Saturday, May 11, 2013
From Crybaby to Senior! Prom
My sister is fifteen years older than me, so I may as well have been an only child. I didn’t have siblings teasing me and joking with me when I grew up, so when I got to school and kids said things like “Shelley’s got a belly full of jelly,” I didn’t take it as a joke and laugh it off; I cried. Wrong reaction. That got me labeled a cry baby. While I loved learning, I didn’t socialize well.
Things got worse because I didn’t realize I had a photographic memory and that wasn’t a common trait. I thought events played out like movies in everyone’s brains like they did in mine, and I always knew I was right. Being sure you’re always right and being a crybaby is not a good combination and does not make one popular. I guess you could say I was bullied, but it wasn't the issue it is today. People (including my teachers and the principal) told me to ignore the other kids, etc. Grammar school was Hell.
High school got a little better. I’m from the Northwest Side of Chicago. There were sixty-four kids in my eighth-grade grammar school graduating class. Many of the boys went to what would now be called a “magnet school.” Lane Technical High School was all boys then, and you had to pass a test to get in there. Frankly, I was surprised there were any smart boys left to make the National Honor Society at Schurz. Most of them went to Lane. But I digress.
There were over eight hundred kids in my graduating class. That’s what was left after four year’s worth of attrition. I faded into the woodwork and my tormentors went their own ways. High school was much easier. Still, I wasn’t exactly “popular.” When I went to dances, I mostly danced with my girlfriends.
I was a normal-sized teenager, but I gained weight after my kids were born and then even more when my bi-polar disorder was diagnosed and I went on medications. I got up to three-hundred pounds and could barely move. I had a bariatric walker and I rode on it. No more dancing for me. I couldn’t breathe well enough to get through one song.
Many of you know I’ve lost 140 pounds. Last summer I moved into low-income senior housing. I came home from shopping for a dress for my daughter’s wedding and there was a notice on the bulletin board—the staff wanted to know if anyone was interested in attending Senior Prom. Well hot diggity dog! I had the outfit already, and I can not only walk without a walker, I can dance! I signed up.
We had our prom and I showed up in my Mother of the Bride outfit. No little black dress for this M-o-B—I wore enough black stuff when I was fat. I wanted colors, and that’s what I got. And no sitting on the sidelines, either. I was there to dance! It never occurred to me the staff would be choosing a King and Queen of the Prom or that the criteria would be participation. Maybe the Hookie Lau pushed it over the edge. I don’t know. I just know I had a blast and…
The King of the Prom was my neighbor, Leo. The men didn't participate much, but it was his birthday, so that made a nice gift.