Monday, March 5, 2012

Marching to the beat of my own drummer

I’ve always been a little bit different. Even “back home”.

If it wasn’t the fact that I wore my hair natural until the age of 14 (unheard of in my generation), it was the fact that I was six feet tall and a high school freshman, or the fact that I was still playing with Barbies when other girls were discovering fun new games like “Seven Minutes in Heaven”. I never did anything when or how anyone else did.

The earliest memory I have of just being strange was back in elementary school. It had to be first grade, because I remember the teacher involved very vividly. Let’s call her Mrs. R. (because her name began with “R”). Mrs. R was my favorite teacher for many years. She was kind and encouraging and she had the most innovative ways of teaching every day subjects. She was also relatively laid back, so long as you weren’t disrupting the class. (I think you see where this is going.)

Somewhere along the way, I had picked up an interesting habit which, while not overtly disruptive, was probably distressing to her as a veteran who’d likely never seen anything like this before. I have no idea when I began doing this, but I would only sit on half of my seat at any given time. This was not me fidgeting or playing around. I was very attentive and focused on the lessons. I just sat with only one butt cheek on the chair at a time. So if I was sitting on the left side of the chair, my right knee would hang down to the extent that I was sort of kneeling on the floor.

No, I don’t know why.

Apparently, I didn’t know then, either. I recall Mrs. R asking on more than one occasion and I also recall having no answer to give her. I just did. Eventually, as any caring (and concerned) teacher would, Mrs. R called my mother in for a meeting. At this point, I can only speculate as to what either woman must have been thinking as we all stood looking at each other in the now-empty classroom.

After explaining why she called my mother into the school, Mrs. R naturally asked me to sit down and show her what I’d been doing. Because every seven year old is convinced that they are infinitely more clever than everyone else in the world, I did what any seven year old would do. I took my seat properly - primly, even – and looked expectantly up at the two adults. Naturally, neither was fooled. I was eventually cajoled into showing my mother the ridiculous posture in which I’d been absorbing my lessons and she explained how unladylike it was. Especially given the fact that I wore a parochial school uniform. I never did it again. 

Instead, I have discovered an infinite number of ways to be odd and awkward and different, all without taking a knee in a skirt in public.

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