Building My Cool One Gang Sign At A Time

When I was in the 6th grade there were really only three things that mattered to me: not losing my retainer in the cafeteria garbage can, my boyfriend Greg Larson (the peanut butter to my jelly, the salt to my pepper, the Kevin to my Winnie), and being popular. I was never popular in elementary school except for a brief stint in 4th grade when I used to chase boys on the playground and kick them in the crotch. I was thus named Ball Buster and enjoyed my notoriety for a season. But that was short lived, oh popularity you fickle mistress. In retrospect, it's easy to list the things that held me hostage in nerd land:

1. The amount of time I spent in the cafeteria garbage can digging through half eaten slabs of chicken fried steak and Jell-O salad to find my retainer

2. My loyal and whole hearted participation in Campfire Girls wherein I made and proudly wore a potpourri of handicrafts including a necklace made of marbles and a sweatshirt tastefully decorated with a rainbow swirl of puff paint.

3. My boyfriend Greg Larson (the above mentioned peanut butter, salt man etc. etc.). Who, bless his heart, was committed and kind and smart and...hopelessly nerdy.

To my credit, there were a few weapons in my arsenal that saved me from total and utter nerdom:

1. Heather Daley liked me (She kissed older boys. She was friends with Jenny Phillips, the IT girl of Hiteon Elementary. She got her period before the rest of us.). Every Friday we wore matching outfits which was a bold and earnest statement of our mutual admiration.

2. My Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper

3. My bangs: not too tall and just crispy enough ala the 1991 "claw" hairstyle wave.

I'm now 29 years old and realizing that not much has changed in 17 years. That saying "The more things change the more they stay the same" is an absolute truism. Just like my 12 year old self, I'm still a little bit dorky (see previous blog ode to my khaki pants) but also have a few things under my belt to recommend me. I know this because I qualify for many of the postings on the website Stuff White People Like (which is, as we all know, the very non-ironic reservoir for all things hip). For example:

1. I enjoy throwing up gang signs in photos

2. I have a heady crush on Ira Glass and all things This American Life

3. I have bangs. Ok, technically, I don't have bangs yet. But this Saturday I will be getting my hair cut into delicious, fat non-crunchy bangs.

I feel that the main thing keeping me from crossing the threshold of cool is a friend who is willing to wear matching outfits with me on Twin Friday. Anyone?? It is only then--while simultaneously sporting Chan Marshall bangs, dropping the deuce, listening to Ira on my ipod and clad in coordinating American Apparel hoodies with my B.F.F.--can I claim to have outgrown my proverbial khakis and therein exclaim "Ladies and gentleman, I have arrived." Word.