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If you don't know me by now.

Like most folks, my eighth grade year was spent dodging my sense of self worth, forever scoffing at my own reflection while unashamedly embracing vanity. I couldn't get a tan but I couldn't do Algebra either. I fluctuated between rolling out of bed at the last deliciously carefree moment and showering multiple times a day. I liked brainy boys but pondered long on my straight legged denims (a cuff? or a roll?) Like most folks, my eighth grade paradigm was a paradox.

Recently freed from my tortoise shell glasses, life was a blur of misery. Long naps and longer nights. Repeated calls to Captain D's Time Is Now to avoid a house phone ringing after hours. Clearly, something dire needed it's say. Absurdly poetic musings scribbled in a journal to which I could not stay faithful beyond 3 days. Cassette tapes warbling a radio version of Bohemian Rhapsody, the soundtrack to my swinging moods.

During the spring of my eighth grade year, I got to visit Washington, D.C. with some classmates. Heady stuff was this preliminary attempt at flight from beneath the wings of our parents. We were told to come correct to the airport so as to positively represent. I donned a red felt hat to complete my ensemble. I would swear it was the height of fashion, having no idea it would become the symbol of a most humiliating experience.

Safely in the air, we were given the All Clear to move about the cabin. With all the excitement, I had failed to visit the little girls' room all morning and, suddenly, I was desperate. Even this task seemed adventurous except I was unaware of the locking mechanism on an airplane bathroom door which only reads "Occupied" when it is locked from inside. Imagine how my glee turned to horror when, within seconds, in bursts my male classmate to see me compromised in a tiny airplane bathroom.

Luckily, he was not the kinda boy who used that kinda thing for evil. He was a sensitive boy. Maybe even the kinda boy who admired red hats. Whatever, his mama was raising a gentleman and, to my knowledge, he has never breathed a word but

I'm still slightly traumatized.

In eighth grade, humiliation wore a red hat.


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