Middle school: Was it middle hell for you?

How many guys have you gone with?

You would think after reading Molly Backes' young adult novel Princesses of Iowa and interviewing her for Behind the Book, my thoughts would be taking me back to high school.  But, the little spaceship in my head that travels back in time is being propelled even further.  I'm remembering MIDDLE SCHOOL!

Dear G0d, make it stop.

The only remedy, of course, is to write about it.

So, let's turn this ship around and ship my pants (sorry, we're still reeling from the excitement at the Ronay household) back to the present so I can go back to being a 30-something year old, happily married lawyer/writer living in Chicago.

It was the late 80s. It was not your average middle school.  Far from it. ... It was Belleville, New Jersey (see a primer here).  Home of Joe Pesci.  Land of the guido and guidette - we used those terms LONG before Jersey Shore.

It was a time and place where we also used the term 'go with' to mean hook up, as in "Did you go with him?" or "I think so and so and so and so went with each other."

And the level of your popularity was directly correlated to the height of your hair.  The higher the hair, the more popular.  I could only manage a slight puff in 7th grade but by 8th grade I had achieved greater height - literally and figuratively.

But, the memory I am visiting today is in 7th grade.  The small puff hair days for me.  Braces on my teeth.  Boobs a growing.  I want to shout to 7th grade Ferny "Go ahead and keep hiding under XL sweaters and sweatshirts but you'll be proud of them in college!"

I'm at CCD. As a sometimes neurotic adult and seriously neurotic young person, I've always found great comfort in praying (see what I mean here). I have a relationship with G0d.  And, I've always had a reverence and respect for all things church and religion.  I cringed inside when kids called CCD central city dump.  How can they say that?

But, in 7th grade, I HATED CCD.  I knew I had to be there so that I could get confirmed so I could get married in a church - and now I'm shouting to 7th grade Ferny again "Well, you're going to marry the cutest, funniest, smartest, kindest man in the world ... who also happens to be Jewish! You're going to get married outside in front of a gazebo on a beautiful May day.  But, of course, you don't know that now."

The reason I hated CCD was because I was so uncomfortable.  None of my close friends were at this church (I eventually switched) and there was a lot of downtime.

In this memory, it's during several excruciating minutes of downtime. We're waiting for something, not sure what the teacher is doing, everyone is talking.

I am in an assigned seat with a girl to my right we'll call Lisa and a girl to my left we'll call Tina.

Lisa: I've gone with 35 guys.  I just counted them.

Lisa points at Tina: How  many guys have you gone with?

Tina, sheepishly:  Just one.

Lisa, to me:  What about you?

Me:  No one.

Lisa looks shocked and disgusted.  Tina looks embarrassed for me and then reading the cue of Lisa, shocked and disgusted.

Why couldn't I lie and just say one?  But, I can't lie.  That's a sin.  But, if I had gone with just one boy by now, I wouldn't feel like such a loser. I'm such a loser.  35?  Boys must think she's really pretty.

Shouting to 7th grade Ferny "You'll get your chance! Relax! You're only 12!  Pretty? What she is is a PIG.  Ok, I take that back.  What I really mean is someday, when you are an adult, you will hope for her sake that she was just a liar."

Ok, let's turn this ship around.
Back to the present and today, I am grateful ~
1/ that it really does get better
2/ but also that it was hard. It was supposed to be, I believe. If 7th grade were easy, how interesting would that make any of us?
3/ and, of course, that I hadn't 'gone with' anyone by 12 years old.  No, I wasn't a loser.  I was a child.

'LIKE' if you're grateful today to be an adult and out of the Middle Hell that is Middle School.
And if you have any stories from Middle Hell, please share in the comments!

Thank you for reading Stop and Blog the Roses.  Follow me on Twitter @FernRonay.


Like Kevin on the Wonder Years, I had - and still have - a running dialogue in my head of observations and neuroses.


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