Or, Church Youth Groups Ruin Young Lives
After seventh grade, you might say that I had it coming. A nice big cosmic slap of karmic retribution across my snooty little backside. In eighth grade, it came.
My school lost its lease at the end of seventh grade. The public school district needed the building back. My school did not really have its act together and didn’t start looking for a new building until like, July. Not surprisingly, that didn’t work out too well and the school closed its doors. (Or, “the school did not reopen its doors” if I’d like to make that sentence a TRIPLE negative. Boy crazy in English class much?)
Amy was sent to a Catholic school in Trenton, N.J. Markthew and his family moved away, I think. Mattark and I were sent to another small Christian school about 25 miles away that my parents really couldn’t afford. A few other random dorks were sent there too—just enough to taint the entire batch of “LBCA transfers” and cause our new classmates to view us as one indistinguishable bloc of Loooosers.
Mattark and I spoke on the phone once or twice over the summer but when school started we didn’t acknowledge each other at all. Whatever. He’d developed a slightly vicious case of acne over the summer anyway. Yeesh.
Not that I was one to talk. I’d joined a church youth group over the summer because I just wasn’t getting enough God at school. About a week before school started, we went on one last beach trip. During a barefoot walk across the beach, I stubbed my toe on some girl’s heel in front of me.
I might as well have kicked a brick wall. Apparently? This girl had feet built like army boots. Reinforced with steel and self-defense mechanisms. Her heel was really and truly super-hard. I know. My toe shattered on impact. Shat. Terred.
But still, a toe, right? Buddy tape it up and it’ll be fine? Not this toe, baby. I needed a whole cast shoe and still walked with a bad limp. I wore this cast shoe on the first of school.
Adding to my debut: wearing jeans for the first time to school and managing to do it all wrong (tight rolls? what?), and (oh, my god) PERMED BANGS.
My rocking big poofy Aqua Net bangs? Had been PERMED by an overzealous hairstylist who insisted that the perm would make them bigger and easier to style. It didn’t. It made them look even more ridiculous than the regular ridiculous style I wore but at least THAT ridiculous style was still considered cool.
So: Permed bangs, the stupidest injury story EVER, post-school-uniform-fashion trauma, plus braces and no boobs to speak of.
I did not meet an Amy at this school. Well, I did, but she was way too cool for me. I met girls with names like Edith who had unhealthy fixations on the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and teddy bear sweatshirts.
This school was founded by the Mennonites and was in the middle of Bumblefuck, Pennsylvania. I think stray cows wandering on the soccer field were a recurring problem. We learned Creationism and Abstinence and had to memorize Bible verses every Monday. They finally let girls wear pants the year I started, although you still had to wear skirts on Wednesday for chapel and OH MY GOSH DARN GOLLY it better be no more than two inches above your knee. There were no dances or sports for girls except field hockey, tennis and cheerleading. You know, ones that you wear skirts for.
(Ok, I’m exaggerating. There was a softball team too. Shut up.)
The school also had a huge clique problem. Probably just like my old school had, but I’d never noticed because I was in one. Huh. Girls were MEAN. Boys were CRUEL. Teachers played favorites and looked the other way. By the end of eighth grade there were about nine girls with eating disorders, two with depression and at least one who cut herself.
(I sure do bring the funny some days, don’t I? Holy hell.)
Amy had no problems at Catholic school. She was French-kissing random boys within weeks and went all Trenton white-girl ghettofabulous with the acrylic nails and the bling. She flashed the nuns and shoplifted hair accessories.
(At this time, Amy Elizabeth exits stage left, never to be seen again but often to be Googled. No luck.)
I focused my social energies on the youth group at church. I made friends with an older girl named Nicole who introduced me to the world of Older Boys. One of these Older Boys? Was named Jason Storch, and oh. My. God. I loved him. He was tall and dark and handsome and funny and nice and cute and smart and cool and omigosh he totally just looked at me. Squee!
Nicole asked him (on the phone, while I hovered nearby in terror) if he’d take me to some banquet thing the youth group was having. People got dressed up and took dates and then sat around and…ate…dinner, or something. I don’t know. It seemed monumentally important at the time.
Anyway, Jason didn’t want to take me. He had a crush on Nicole, who had a crush on Todd, who was dating some total skank who showed up at church wearing belly shirts and ripped jeans. To church! Heavens! To betsy!
Jason didn’t go to the banquet with anybody and that was fine with him because he was cool and mature enough to Not Care About Stupid Shit Like Youth Group Banquets. Oh Jason.
I, of course, was devastated. My life was over! The futility of it all! (Yes, I was in the drama club. Why do you ask?) My boyfriend-attracting-ability had obviously peaked in seventh grade and no boy was ever going to like me again, ever. I was going to die alone, unkissed and unmadeoutwith and probably fat.
Luckily, Jason had a friend named Josh.
Next Up: Josh. Duh.