February 28, 2008

Deborah "Glo-bra" Hussein. In the seventh grade, people were giving up on me. There were other things that interfered with my social status, but I was usually still given the benefit of the doubt, and invited to the bigger parties. My mom, though, was staunch. No boy-girl gatherings until I was in the eighth grade. Foot DOWN. Only, not really, Because she gave in in the late spring of seventh grade, as I lay, sobbing brokenly, on a pile of towels in the hall bathroom, for a good hour, desperate in the knowledge that yet another party would come between me and all of the people I was supposed to be friends with, the knowledge that my social standing was being removed yet another peg lower. All of the important occurrences at that party I would miss, and my mother would be to blame. My life was essentially ruined. I considered moving to my grandparent's house in central California, where the people had lower standards (it was a farming community - of COURSE they didn't care whether I wore Esprit and Generra and had a cute hair cut - they probably all had hay in their hair most of the time, I could only assume). But then - MIRACULOUS!, She -- budged. Took pity on me. And I got cleaned up and put an outfit together rather in a hurry, my favorite pedal pushers with the little, green-and-peach palm trees scattered all over, and my favorite mint-green pocket tee from Nordstrom's totally wicked new juniors department, the Brass Plum, and my Esprit sandals, and some matching mint-green socks, scrunched perfectly. I even wore my little Vuarnet-esque white sunglasses pin jauntily on the pocket of my t-shirt, in the same spot that I placed it carefully every time so as to avoid making unnecessary holes. It was May - I only needed a light, open jacket. I finished my make-up application of purple Wet n' Wild eyeliner and blue mascara just as my friend Marisa's mom, Pam, drove up in the wagon, with Marisa in the back, her little brother in the front. I hopped in. It was *perfect*. The sky was still lightly pink-blue, the air was fresh but not chilled, being almost-summer, and I had never been so exuberant. This was the big moment. I was going to my first boy-girl party. I was a woman. It was all breaking wide open, my life was unfolding in front of my ultra-absorbent eyeballs. It was glorious. We ditched our coats in the room immediately off of the garage, the location of the party; our friend's mom was smart. Throw a party for a bunch of seventh- and eighth-graders? Easy-clean-up location, yes, please. And it was a breathtaking sight: there were these big, jagged lightning bolts coated with hot-pink and green and yellow neon, glow-in-the-dark paint suspended from the ceiling every few feet; there was a table with food and sodas (or, as we called them in suburban Portland at that time: pop), there was a big boom box playing Wham!, and Depeche Mode, and Crowded House, and Inxs. There was even a black light that made everything in the room glow - and as I stood, mouth slightly agape in wonder at the heartrending beauty of this very adult scene, a voice crowed and a finger pointed, and suddenly, I was surrounded: "Debbie! Your BRA is GLOWING!!" (I had recently taken to wearing a Playtex training bra, the one with the little, blue flower glued in between the two Vs of fabric, that was supposed to separate actual breasts, but in my case, separated, well, the two pieces of fabric. There was already a generic joke that my name had been slipped into in the recent past, the "What's Debbie going downhill sideways? A skateboard! What's Debbie in the water? A surfboard!" flat reference. I got it. I did not laugh. I just couldn't seem to find the humor. I was weird that way.) HHHhhahahhaahhahahhahha!!ahahahhahahhhhhahahhHAHHAHHhahhahaha I ran from the room, face crumpled, in agony. It was as though I'd been a fawn that wandered into the loveliest of clearings, and was suddenly surrounded by a pack of wolves. My best friend, Marisa, chased me down in the coat room. Lying in a position not too removed from the one at my house, earlier, on the pile of towels. Only, this time, I was getting an awful lot of my purple/blue eye make-up on somebody's killer Guess jean jacket, and I didn't care. Well, I did, sort of, out of respect for the Guess. But mostly, I just wanted. to. die. (Ahhhh. Seventh-grade must-die-now scenarios. They were plentiful, non?) She, choking on laughter, tried to convince mortified me that it was not so bad. She dug around in the pile and found her Vuarnet sweatshirt, which TOTALLY clashed with my awesome mint-green-and-peach ensemble (the Vuarnet logo was kelly green and red with gold accents, if memory serves), so I mournfully turned it inside-out and put it on. It made my torso look weird, because it was too small for me, and my t-shirt stuck out awkwardly at the bottom in a frumpy fringe. The logo glowed rather hideously through the sweatshirt, too, I found out, as I humbly snuck back into the room, though still greeted with guffaws and triumphant wolf-pack cackles, mixed with sneers of "Debbie's still glowing!" - despite my skulking manner. Later, during spin-the-bottle, I couldn't bring myself to kiss whoever it was I was supposed to, and I ran from the room, crying, yet again. Another peg removed and replaced, lower. On Monday, our twenty-something choir-class teacher, Mr. B, got a little too involved in Friday's shenanigans, which were being discussed frenziedly when he walked in. Someone explained why I was being referred to as "Glo-bra," and when I couldn't take the teasing anymore, as it went on for easily the first ten minutes of class, and bolted toward the door without asking for his approval to do so, he asked me, loud enough for the whole room of students to hear, "Where are you glowing, De-bra?" Which kept me in the restroom stall for at least five minutes longer than I otherwise would have remained. One of the other students had been instructed to find me and chide me into returning, which I adamantly refused to do, until she explained rather reluctantly that if I didn't, Mr. B planned to give me detention. (Which still makes me think he had acted irresponsibly and knew he would be the one getting some reprimanding if the whole thing came to the attention of our principal. But that's just an aside.) I have Senior-year high-school yearbooks that were signed by classmates thusly: "Where are you glowing to college, De-bra?" "Have an awesome summer, Glo-bra!" "Debbie Does Glo-bras!" I avoid, as an adult, being referred to as Deborah, tending to go by Debbie when possible.

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