Did I ever tell you about the time I was mortified as a high school freshman? I made some close friends in middle school who didn’t exactly flow into being the same great friends in high school. For whatever reason – seriously none of us remember, we. just. stopped. being. friendly… I was really needing a new start with a fresh social circle as a freshman and tried out some new activities with a positive outlook (as much as a early teen with a “no one understands what I am going through” type mindset can be positive).
I joined the debate team and hit it off with a fun, more poplar than me, red headed freshman girl. Brenda spurred my interest in digging through my mom’s trunk to pull out shirts from the 70’s to wear – now that I am thinking about it, I wonder what happened to the white shirt with colorful embroidery I found and wore so much that year.
Brenda and I became debate partners and although we never hung out outside of school (or school functions), it was a budding friendship I was grateful for after the abandonment I felt from my last crew. Our very first debate tournament was in the early fall – most likely October. The debate topic for the year foreshadowed my social services career – JUVENILE CRIME. The first tournament was in Louisburg, Kansas just 30 minute drive south of our high school. Because of the proximity to the school and the type of activity, there was no team bus and everyone drove themselves and friends (upper class men) or parents picked up (freshman).
The results of the tournament are long forgotten but I can still remember Brenda and I sitting outside after our last round waiting for our rides. I was hanging out, trying to make the impression I was cool and worthy of being associated with. We sat on a cement wall watching the cars rolling up and down the long hills leading towards the school talking about whatever freshman trying to be cool talk about. Both of us quickly spotted a minivan off in the distance rolling up and down those same hills far off. It didn’t take long to recognize the van had the back completely open. We both laughed about it joking how wild it was someone could drive all that way not realizing the back was open. Up and down another big hill, the van got closer. Sure enough the van pulled into the Louisburg High School parking lot and right up in front of the school.
I said a quick good-bye to Brenda and nearly ran to the back of the van to close it before climbing inside. My mom and sister decided to stop by the Louisburg Cider Mill and pumpkin patch before picking me up. They laughed about driving all that way without recognizing the giant window agape in the back and were grateful their pumpkins didn’t fall out. At the time, I couldn’t even think to be grateful more of my new high school classmates weren’t present to witness my horrifyingly embarrassing pick-up.
Fast forward to a little over 20 years later and I am picking up my 3rd grade daughter from elementary school – her first week of school. I am chilling in the pick-up line and pull forward to see my beautiful girl in her crisp white polo and plaid jumper spot me and immediately her sweet face started frowning. She opens up the back seat to climb in and say, “Mom, what is that sound?”
“Sorry girl, there is something dragging on the bottom of the car I need to get screwed back in.” I apologize.
“You cannot pick me up like this mom, you have to get that fixed.”
And there it was, the memory of trying to fit in hit me, I was embarrassing my girl in front of her peers. I promised her I would get my car taken car of so that she could be picked up in a neutrally blending in vehicle to minimize the social impact.