While high school is a pretty universally weird time in our lives, it’s tame compared to the middle school experience. High school might be a primetime teen soap opera, but middle school?
Middle school is the theater of the absurd. The teacher who makes you go around the obstacle course twice during field day? That’s not actually normal. That’s the equivalent of Vladimir and Estragon’s unreasonable patience for that pesky Godot. And heaven forbid your middle school experience happened in the 00s. It’s not normal to be judged on how many times you’ve seen “High School Musical,” either.
But it’s okay. You don’t realize how weird middle school is until you’re out of it because you’re weird, too.
Hi, I’m Blue. And I’m a recovering former middle school student. Writing this list of just a few weird and embarrassing things I did in those three years is helping me cope. Maybe you’ll take a little comfort in my discomfort. That’s why embarrassing and funny people exist, you know. To absorb the embarrassments of everyone else.
So sit back and have a laugh at my ridiculousness. If I didn’t want you to, I wouldn’t be writing all of this stuff down.
1. Went to Science Camp and Cried the Entire Time
Historically, I struggle with homesickness. It started in the second grade when I was really unhappy at my elementary school, but I didn’t have the words for unhappiness yet. Those words came out in the form of tears, and while I curbed the urge to sob all day by the time I got to fourth grade (and a new, more positive school), sometimes the tears would creep back up.
But nothing was quite was terrible as going to science camp in the sixth grade. Allow me to clarify: Science camp itself wasn’t really that bad. We played games. We rode horses. The girls in my cabin were the nicest girls in the entire class, and I liked them a lot. I’m still friends with one of them. But in spite of the mostly pleasant environment, it wasn’t my house. It wasn’t my pillow. I’m terrible at learning how to turn on showers for the first time, so all of my showers were unbearably cold. And even though the cabin mothers were nice to me, they still weren’t mine. Somewhere in the midst of all that, I broke down in ugly sobs pretty much every hour. For no particular reason.
It was weird. I had just turned twelve years old, and I should have been more prepared to spend four nights and five days away from my house. But I wasn’t, and it freaked everyone out. Trying to control it somehow made it worse. I was about the only girl who wasn’t asked to dance on the last night, but then again, I’ve never looked the hoedown type. Plus, you weren’t allowed to eat chocolate for some reason that no one ever figured out. Oh, man, I forgot about that stupid anti-chocolate rule. In retrospect, science camp kind of was the worst.
2. Wrote a Story That Basically Just Turned out to Be "Twilight"
I’ve always written stories. When I was two, I wrote a storybook called “The Pinch,” which I can’t tell you about in case I decide to publish it one day. But despite all this writing, I was also notorious for never finishing my stories. Either I got bored with them, or a new (essentially identical) idea would take its place.
One day, I had an idea that was different. I can still see the notebook and pen I used to jot down my first notes about the story. They came in a set, and they looked like they were wrapped in brown paper bags, much like your rented algebra textbook when the cutesy book covers were too small for the binding. This idea, though. It lit up like fire inside me. I was finished writing the story in probably a week.
It was about a sixteen-year-old girl (because at thirteen, I knew exactly what it meant to be sixteen, right?) who was desperate to fall in love. She met a boy in the grade below her (which may
or may not have been inspired by my crush on a boy in the grade below me at the time), and after talking a whopping sum of twice, they decided to become a couple. In my defense, this was how middle-school relationships worked. I knew plenty of happy eighth-grade couples who had never spoken. They tell you to write what you know, and this was what I knew.
Eventually, my romantic leads found out that they were soul mates because of some inexplicable curse (???) on the boy’s family. Keep in mind that no one in this story had magical powers. I think what happened was a jealous guy tried to kill the protagonist, her boyfriend, and their entire family. In a way, I wish he had succeeded. I continued to write two more volumes of this trash, which couldn’t have happened if they had all died at the end of the first one.
I read Stephenie Meyer’s infamous “Twilight” novel that summer, which was a story of forbidden love and conflicts that make little sense. And even though I wasn’t a great writer, there were two things I knew. First, “Twilight” was poorly written. Second, it mirrored my story almost shot-for-shot, which meant that my story was bad, too. It was in that moment that I decided to abandon tales of epic romance and begin writing stories of disaffected parochial-educated youths. It’s been almost ten years now, and I’m still going strong with that one.
3. Sang the "Egg Song" Every Single Day
I knew a lot of terrifically funny, wonderful people in middle school. But in my memory, perhaps none hold the same, wacky candle to my seventh-grade locker partner. I ran into her near the beginning of my senior year of college, and she’s just as lovely as ever. What was especially lovely about my childhood friend was that she loved YouTube before it was trendy to love YouTube. She’d find the strangest little videos, always with quirky songs in them, and she’d sing them to me the next morning while we filed papers for the first-grade teachers.
“The Egg Song” was our favorite. There was something so adorable about it, and it would give me something to look forward to throughout the day. I can’t explain what it was about that stupid song that I loved so much. It wasn’t metaphorically profound, I hadn’t discovered it for myself, and I actually hate eggs. But she was a good friend. And if “The Egg Song” made her happy, then by God, it made me happy, too.
In case you’re interested, the personally iconic “Egg Song” is below.
4. Refused to Go to the Cafeteria for Lunch in the Second Half of Eighth Grade, Instead Opting to Eat Lunch with My Mom
I am not even a little ashamed of this time in my life, especially now that I know I am moving to the East Coast for graduate school this summer. My mom was my middle-school literature teacher, so she was in the room with all the books. But she didn’t just have the class sets of books she taught. She had other, more unique books on the shelf by her desk. There was a book of short stories that was simply about being thirteen. There was an old, marked-up copy of The Outsiders. There was even a book about iconic moments from other books.
Are you seeing the pattern?
By the second half of eighth grade, I was becoming one of the disaffected, parochial-educated youths I liked to write about. I weirdly lost interest in my friends, and honestly, the cafeteria-circa-1972 really freaked me out. I’ve never seen so much orange and yellow in one place except for a really unfortunate two-pack of Starbursts. So, I was sick of eating my turkey-in-a-bag (You read that right. Sandwiches freak me out. They come with unnecessary carbs. Somehow, I thought that eating sliced turkey out of a bag was normal, but in fact, it made me look like a carnivorous nightmare.) surrounded by kids who were talking about things I wasn’t interested in, sitting in spinning chairs that only spun halfway around.
In short, I was a total a-hole.
But I don’t regret spending my lunch hours with my mom and her books. We had some good conversations. The only thing that was weird about it was that why would an eighth-grade girl want to be seen eating lunch, reading books, and listening to Stevie Nicks with her mother?
And so began my endless struggle to make my life exactly like “Gilmore Girls.”
5. Got My Friend's Crush to Sign Her Diary
This story is my crowning, middle school glory. Never before and never again will I ever accomplish anything that reaches half of the beauty in this accomplishment. I don’t know why I went along with it, but to this day, I am glad I did. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have this story to tell.
It was seventh grade, and my friend was into her third year of a crush on this boy in our class. Her crush was, in our class of about sixty students, pretty common knowledge (see again: sixty students). So, since everyone knew, she decided to run with it and make sure that he knew in the most obvious and theatrical ways. Years ago, I would have remembered all of them. But since none of them were as significant as the diary signing, my memory fails me.
It started as a weird joke. She said, “I like him so much I want him to sign my diary.” And then she kept saying it because it was funny. We repeated the inside joke until finally, I said, “I bet I could get him to do it.”
Almost ten years later, I’d just like to slow-clap my young teenage self for making this offer. That was gutsy. I had no idea why I made the offer, and in retrospect, I’m still clueless. There was just something in the back of my mind that told me I could make it happen for her. Maybe I just had “The Little Engine That Could” stuck in my head.
Also deserving of the slow-clap? My friend, who agreed to give me her diary to take to class to get this boy to sign it. How did she know I wouldn’t read it? How did I actually resist the temptation to read it (Answer: I went to a Catholic school, and there were images of Jesus on every wall. As if He couldn’t already see everything I did.). So, I took the diary to class, opened it to the front cover, and asked this boy if he would sign my friend’s diary.
And he did.
He just signed it without even thinking about it. In fact, he did it so casually, it seemed like maybe he had been asked to sign ten diaries before this one.
I’m not sure who the weirdest person in this situation really was. Was it my friend for making a hilarious joke about a signed diary? Was it this boy for just agreeing to sign her diary, no questions asked?
No. It was definitely me for putting the whole plan in creepy motion.
I can’t go a day without hanging my head at something embarrassing I did in middle school, and some of these decisions are decisions I made over a decade ago. I was an embarrassing, little disaster of a human who listened to KT Tunstall’s not-so-popular album, “Eye to the Telescope,” on a loop. Sometimes, I’d prefer to forget that girl. She was a freak.
But by God, does she have some funny stories to tell at a swell party.