This is Friday’s entry. I’ve been having trouble posting on lj since then.
In November, some of my favorite people celebrate birthdays. Ewbliette birthday is next Friday and Clark-mas observes his birthday four days later. Today, I took my friend Jimmi(named after her father since her parents so wanted a boy) to lunch for her birthday. Our last get-together was this summer when she retold our story to a barnyard full of incredulous friends gathered to celebrate her Master’s Degree matriculation.
We first encountered each other when she began dating my unofficial brother, Louie, the boy next door. A nod and a handshake at his folk’s Saint Patrick’s Day Green Beer Party was the extent of our acquaintance. Back at high school we favored totally different cliques.
Jimmi was a “Stomp” (cowboy/cowgirl) whereas I was a “Goth.” We never socialized. In fact, our peers regarded each other with a mixture of distrust and disdain.
The only people our tiny Goth crowd scorned as much as the Jocks were the Stomps. Stomps were easier targets, so we mocked them whenever we could. A favorite activity included a synchronized and aptly timed humming of the Deliverance battling banjos theme. Our outrageous costumes and equally outrageous antics were a great source of hilarity for the Stomps, although we considered their humor to be lowbrow and uninspired.
Louie announced his engagement to Jimmi at a block party the summer after graduation. I attended sans make up and fishnets because it was HOT. I nodded and shook hands with her again.
Louie and Jimmi married that December, scandalizing everyone. Entire families prognosticated failure, despair and poverty since they married without attending college. I felt sorry for the couple, and hoped they would prove everyone wrong.
A year and a half later, I spotted Jimmi in my Chemistry Class. She sat in the very back row with a few Stomp buddies, and amiably joked with them about my paleness, wondering aloud if I was vitamin D deficient (I was flattered by her observation). I impassively stalked by her cowboy posse to the distant front row, where I sat with my two scruffy but exceptionally intelligent biker buddies, smirking since I blew the curve on our recent chemistry test.
That Saturday, Louie contacted me—Jimmi was failing Algebra for the third time in a row, and none of the tutors at the University Learning Center had been able to help her. Would I spend an hour tutoring her this Sunday? Sure. One hour turned into five as I realized that Timmy was dyslexic.
Since I am also dyslexic, I shared my problem solving strategies with her. It worked. Ecstatic, she called later that week to report that she received her first 80% on a math exam ever
For the next several Sundays I tutored her and her grades improved so dramatically that she was able to convince her instructor to let her retake her failed tests. Then one Thursday as I descended the stretch of steps to the front row in Chemistry class I heard a familiar voice wise-cracking, “She’s the last person who should be drinking a Diet Coke, get this woman a REAL Coke!” (I was then Kate Moss thin).
I turned around, and beamed a smile as white as my face, “Jimmi! Hey!” I waved and hesitated briefly before walking over. It took a moment for her to connect the voice of the Friendly Neighborhood Tutor to the features of the Spooky Goth Chick. As unbelievable as it seems, she had not realized that we were the same person. At our lessons I was fresh scrubbed with glasses and pigtails, at school I was painted black with stilettos and glam hair. I introduced myself to her stupefied buddies and shared a laugh with Jimmi, who was absolutely mortified over teasing me. Although amused by the situation, I didn’t gloat. Part of looking different means enduring taunts with dignity and a bit of pride.