Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On Being an Error

On Sunday, Aar and I watched "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist." It took Aaron a while to get past the title (I believe he was assuming it was going to be a rather snooty and pretentious two hours, mostly regarding the exclusive coolness that is indie music and the fact that we could all really learn a thing or two from sneaker-toting twentysomethings...) but we were just bored enough to watch it. Michael Cera is charming and I liked the atmosphere of "New York At Night." But the story was way too familiar; and therefore, at its ending, way too that's-never-the-way-it-happens-esque.

[spoiler alert]

I suppose it's not out of the ordinary for girls to feel they can't measure up to other girls. My experience as a girl myself leads me to believe it's not a particularly rare sentiment. But watching that movie made me remember all of the awful and really, downright cruel times I have been reminded, by others (mostly dudes), that I wasn't measuring up. Now I don't mean this to be a pity party for me, or to say I had it worse than others. But looking back on old journals (which I did, after watching the movie) I honestly cannot believe some of the s-word that was said to me back in high school, folks (and a few years after.) Gotta use the s-word. Because that's what it was. S-word.

I was left at parties without rides home, forced to sit on the other side of the booth at restaurants so that no one could mistake whomever I was with and me for a 'couple,' asked to act as a matchmaker for people I was crushing on, told I was too much like a 'sister' to be taken seriously, told I just wasn't attractive enough (at least that one was straightforward), told not to talk to someone IN PUBLIC, asked NOT to come to get-togethers so that a guy I liked could have some alone time with the girl he liked... I have literally been told, by a friend of over 5 years, not to stand next to him at a concert because he didn't want other people to know we were friends.

The thing of it is, all of these things were done - ALL of them - with a certain connotation of "come on ...you understand, Maria." As in, look at yourself, Maria, and let's be real here. You can't blame me.

And what grew out of that was that I didn't blame. I never ever did. And I didn't wallow in it either. I just figured - hey, that's what I'd do if I were him, too; and I tried to enjoy being 'like a sister.' (Also I avoided mirrors.) I mean it - you should read my journals. It was never: "Listen to what this jerk did to me tonight!" And it was always: "Sheesh, I should really work on being so mediocre-looking...then maybe next time he'll let me sit next to him."

It wasn't just my appearance though either - I honestly found myself quite annoying and nerdy as well. The consensus seemed to be such.

In fact, let me tell you a particularly ridiculous story (getting a little fired up here.) Do you know that for two years I had a MAJOR crush on an older guy in my school...one night he had a bonfire at his house and invited me. We were pretty good friends by this time, and we were both Christians. At one point during the night, he asked me to go inside with him for a minute, just the two of us (I was super excited, obviously). What he wanted to ask me was NOT 'where have you been all my life??' Haha. Instead, he wanted to know if I would be willing to flirt with his buddy a bit, who was rather lonely.

Now that was one time I actually had the rationale to get up and leave. Being pimped out just didn't sit right with me, I guess. But most other times when something like that happened, I had the reaction I was talking about before - 'well, I don't blame them.' And it was because of that reaction that I stayed friends with people. When I was asked not to sit next to someone at a restaurant or not to ride a roller coaster with someone at Cedar Point because he wanted to make sure no one mistook us as "together" I said... 'well, I suppose if I were him I wouldn't want that either' and I scooted on over.

I'm not saying this all didn't absolutely crush my adolescent spirit. It really did! I was really quite heartbroken that I was such an error of a girl. I'm just saying I generally reacted with understanding. And after watching Nick and Norah on Sunday night, I became so mad that I reacted that way. And I became so mad that I was treated that way.

Norah actually gets angry at Nick at the appropriate times - when he abandons her for a 'prettier' girl, for example. That is something I never did. (Also something I never did: told someone "well I can't compete with her" and heard "what are you talking about?!"Unrealistic movie plot problem #1). With Nick and Norah, however, it of course ends up with Nick seeing the 'obviously she is the down-to-earth-one' light and walking into the sunset (insert: NY subway) with Norah. With Maria it did not ever end so.

Now Aaron has loved me for a while, and it still confuses me sometimes, but I am grateful for it. But I still have friends (well, one in particular) who seem embarrassed of me. (The not-standing-next-to-me-at-a-concert thing? Last summer.) I'm not sure how I'll go from here regarding that relationship, but if I were to be honest I'd have to say I sure am mad about it. No matter how gawky, chubby, annoying, embarrassing or not-cool I ever was, I should have never been the object of embarrassment to anyone. And I should have never, ever 'understood' it. What a waste of how cool I could have been for someone else.

Friends, if you're treated unfairly, please make it stop. I think that will be my lesson for today. It's a shame that it has to be learned and is not instinctive, but I hope you learn it. I am still working on it.


  1. Thank you a lot for writing this!! Such a great post.

  2. and i hope you got rid of that one left (not really-) friend ! couldnt stand the thought if not..