On Being Branded A Loser

Is it possible to come out of junior high without being marked for life as some kind of loser? My entire eighth grade year I sat behind one particular boy whose name just happened to proceed mine in the alphabet. Truth be told, I liked him. Not romantically, just as a person. I thought he was smart, funny and I enjoyed talking to him. He got to know me pretty well that year. He frequently put me down and called me “a hoser” which I assumed meant some kind of loser in general.

One day another guy comes running up to me after lunch. He said, “Did you hear what so and so said about you?” (So and so being this guy who sat in front of me in class). “No. What?” The snitch proceeded: “He said you have a great body if only you had a better face.” I can’t be for sure, but I think I crawled home from school that day. None but a junior high boy can decimate you to that degree. That one went deep.

Fast forward to high school. My high school combined three smaller local schools in one. By that time all the boys were sick of the girls from our elementary school and couldn’t wait to cast us aside to date the “Newport Girls.” My “friend” and I parted ways and I didn’t see him much in high school, but he was chosen for homecoming court to escort one of the “beautiful girls” from one of the other schools. He got to know all those beautiful, popular girls during his four years there.

In the end he had the last word. He wrote one of the most unique messages in my yearbook. Most people just said “Good Luck!”, but not him. He wrote that I was “a girl of high caliber.” Apparently he had learned something in the last four years. Upon reflection it seems he had come to an appreciation of me he did not have earlier. It didn’t make up for his earlier cruelty, but I was glad he finally gave me some respect. Maybe as he got to know all those “beautiful girls” he saw there wasn’t much substance there. It’s a lesson we all eventually learn. Some of the most beautiful people who walk the earth would not turn any heads, and some of the ugliest people are stunning. I’ll take the ‘high caliber.’ It doesn’t fade.

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