My friends and I were never much good at being little girls. Afternoons were spent pulling up planks on our backyard porches to look for treasure. Nights were spent watching “Lord of the Rings” followed by mornings rampaging through our yards pretending to be off on our own adventure. Similar days were spent swapping Hobbits for Jedi and plastic swords for light sabers.
Even our grandest attempts at little girl lifestyles ended in a pathetic mess. Tea parties were soon morphed into slob parties—the goal being to make the biggest mess of the apple juice and cookies we used in place of tea and biscuits.
Play dates would always morph into prank wars. There was no greater joy than inflicting some sort of lighthearted pain upon the other. Filling Pixie Sticks with salt or mixing ketchup into each other’s drinks when our backs were turned. We seemed to grasp the concept of being little boys much more readily.
Nothing much has changed.
We’re all still wreaking havoc together and we are as odd as ever. In place of running through the neighborhood defending different galaxies and worlds, we’ve adapted to digital adventures of Xbox’s Lego “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings.” We’ve grown out of building forts in the garage pretending it’s Mount Doom, but not all imagination is lost. We did still dress up like Ents for the midnight premiere of “The Hobbit.”
The way we go about making fools of ourselves has changed, but the art isn’t lost.
Our Friday nights are spent lounging together in sweatpants and T-shirts watching “Star Wars” marathons on Spike and playing Nintendo 64. We switch off between houses, generally ending up at whichever has the most promising amount of food. Proper etiquette requires the invited party to bring a food offering they have shamelessly stolen from their own pantry, a skill we perfected as young padawans, sneaking upstairs to steal more junk food.
Growing up, my older brother was the only definition of cool I had. I tried to emulate him in every way from his code of conduct to his musical tastes. For several years I refused to wear any type of skirt of dress. To me they were a disciplinary device designed to keep girls from climbing and hanging upside down and I couldn’t understand why they were never forced upon my brother.
I have this theory that I gradually train myself to be less and less cool. Among my closest friends we share the same oddities and nerdities that would get any of us thrown in a dumpster in a stereotypical 90s middle school sitcom. But amongst us, it’s cool. Or it’s better than being cool because being cool is boring. Why be cool when you can make a fool of yourself and have a laugh doing it?
I’m not saying I was always above it all — not at all. Late elementary school and throughout middle school I worked entirely too hard to be cool. I wore that stupid bump in my hair, took my matching Vera Bradley wallet, pencil case and bag to school everyday and you couldn’t find a single piece of clothing in my wardrobe that didn’t sport an eagle, seagull or moose somewhere obnoxiously visible.
I think it took me a long while to realize you couldn’t simply look cool and get into the club; you had to act it too. That is where all hope was lost. I never said the right thing, I never held myself in that mock-adult fashion everyone seemed to master in at age 12. The only thing I excelled at was silencing entire lunch tables with uncomfortable jokes.
I used to attempt to hide my weirdness but now I’ve given up. I think what happened was that I truly realized I just don’t care. I figured out, the weirder and stranger I was, the more I could make people laugh. Even if they were just laughing at me, it never really mattered.
I think we come to a point in our lives where we realize that the only people worth being around are the ones who, in turn, want to be around us. If my irrational immaturity and strange behavior weirds you out, that’s totally fine, we just don’t click.
My closest friends and I can make fools of ourselves together. The people who mock us or call us crazy are the kind of people we don’t want to be around. We’d rather them think us crazy. If we’ll never be friends anyway, why not leave an impression?
I like to think of ourselves as adding a little color to someone’s day. Last summer, we kept a variety of hats: a coonskin cap, a pink Corn Palace cowgirl hat and a tree hat, in the car at all times, along with a vuvuzela. We would each don one of the hats every time we drove around and sporadically blow the horn out the window at people walking by and outdoor restaurants that appeared to need livening up. Even if people only snarl at us, we’ve made their day a little less ordinary.
Most people would say what we do on a daily basis is embarrassing, but it doesn’t really matter what the random dude in the car next to me thinks of our violent interpretive dancing. Does it matter what the cashier thinks of the USB cable I wore around my head into Hen House? No. ‘Cause in the end, I’ll never see them again in my life and who knows, every now and then you get someone who will dance back to you or compliment your eclectic headpiece.
I think one of the main reasons I love being so shamelessly strange is its a simple way to find the good humored people of the world. Its like a signal; send it out and see if any other weirdies respond. When it comes down to it, the people whose opinion I truly care about are the ones who play along.