Saturday, May 26, 2012

Popular, Cool or Not.....

I have never been popular. Or cool. I'm not even sure what it takes to be "cool" or run with the "in" crowd. But I know I don't have "it". In high school, I was on the fringe of many groups. I had friends in the Honors classes, jocks, artsy kids, even some popular kids. But I was never part of the Inner Circle. I grew up with 5 older brothers. I don't speak the foreign language of girl. Boys say what they mean and mean what they say. They don't sugar coat anything. You know what they are thinking at all times. There is no grey area. I don't understand the art of saying one thing and meaning another. I don't grasp the concept of being nice to someone's face then mean to their back. I thought cliques were reserved for school girls. I was painfully and woefully mistaken. Cliques are alive and well in the land of mature, grown women. Once again, I find myself out of the loop. And I am OK with it. I just wish I could translate the secret code of who is your friend and who is being nice to your face but secretly hates you. And don't even get me started on the people who don't like you because of who you are friends with. I thought girls outgrew that form of social leprosy in middle school. Nope, you can be rejected for your education, lack thereof, your physical attributes, lack thereof, and, last but not least, your parenting style. Silly me, I look for kindness, understanding and generosity of spirit when seeking new friends. And a little bit of smart-ass-ness. Let's face it, a person needs all those to put up with me. Southern women have mastered this art. They have the whole fake, "I'm being nice to you but we both know I hate you" tone down pat. And everyone knows the code. There is no grey area. Being a Yankee, they were amused by me and very tolerant of my "bless your heart" Yankee moments. There were lots of them. I was very "blessed" in the year I lived in Virginia. Here in the Midwest, I am lost in translation. Even on my best days, I am not brilliant with idle chit chat. Put me in an ambiguous situation, I am a bumbling idiot. Sitting poolside today, I had a high school flashback. All the thin, pretty, blond cool moms sat laughing together under an umbrella. I sat with my unshaven legs dangling in the pool because I clearly did not fit into their clique. They nod, smile at me and say hello but that is the extent of our communication. Being on the PTO or neighborhood board does not cement a lifelong friendship. Proximity and frequent contact does not make a friendship. It took me years to understand that. Across the pool, my 8 year old daughter spotted some girls she knows. She watched them for a few minutes, bit her lip and cautiously approached their little circle. I've seen the Crocodile Hunter approach a swamp with less trepidation. With an audible sigh of relief, I watched as they gladly accepted her into their fold. My daughter has weathered her share of rejection on the school playground so I was thrilled to watch the girls include her gladly. I watched the girls laugh and play. And my kid was right in the thick of it!!! I would love to be able to spare my daughter the painful sting of rejection. I want to tell her that being "popular" is not as important as having true good friends. I have good friends who like me, despite my glaring lack of coolness. I'm ok with not being popular or being a member of the "in" crowd. I have my own crowd of friends. And I accept anyone who wants to join my "clique" - cool, not cool, skinny, less-than-skinny. You can play in my reindeer games if you park your snide judgments at the door.

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