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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Childhood Flashbacks: "Material Girl"

When I was in, oh.... um.... sixth grade-ish, Madonna came out with this new song -- Material Girl. I'd only heard it on the radio and, of course as it was all things Madonna back then, immediately love it. At that time, I lived miles and miles away from my school. [We moved a lot.] It took two city buses with a wait in-between transferring buses to get there; and, the same to get home. (If I missed one, or one was running late? It could be an hour or two longer before I made it home.)
Once off the second bus, I had to walk the rest of the way to school. At the time, my first class was Drama. I really enjoyed that class, although I could have contributed so much more had I been as assertive and well, unintimidated as I grew to be later on. See, at that time we were living at near poverty. Broke city. So, fitting in with all the 'ins' and even the outs was next to impossible. And, by fitting in, I don't mean just not having the fashionable clothes -- I mean, lucky to have lunch money and a pair of closed toe shoes. I worried from month to month if Mom would have enough money for the rent... [I know, whaaa-whaaa -- with a violin playin in the background.] In drama class was a cool girl, LaShawn. She had a cool (though, less pretty and more drab, but tough all the same) friend. They befriended me due to something about my being the smallest in the class and all. LaShawn was not showy but she definitely didn't want for anything. One day we met up as I was walking to the bus stop. As it happened, her house was on the way -- and quite close, actually -- to the bus stop. This proved to be very beneficial because she invited me to stop at her house in the mornings and wait for her while she finished getting ready for school. Her mom let her wear make-up. She did her hair with a curling iron. My mom wouldn't even let me shave my legs. :-(
Her home was cozy, though not extremely large, but much larger than the apartment we were currently living in. And, mostly, it was normal. Normal being what I envisioned from shows like Growing Pains. Her room was adorned with posters of all of the latest rock stars and popular people. Half of which, I hadn't a clue who they were. Mom was big on enforcing the Christian only music. Nothing wrong with it except that it added to the oddness I continued to feel in the school environment. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED school. Loved it. I knew school was my ticket to be who I was and not this person trapped inside of low income, and the stereo-type I fell into by all the students who had no clue 'how hard the real world could be' or that there even was a 'real' world -- outside of the perfect, family sit-com style box their parents kept them in. In a way, I always saw kids my age and other people like that movie, "Truman"; only, I had this idea decades before Hollywood. Anyhow, each morning I would stop at LaShawn's home and would wait for her (inside where I could warm up) to finish getting ready before we walked and talked on the way to school. Typically, she would put on MTV for me. Keep in mind, I didn't have MTV. I didn't have cable. And, I didn't get to listen to 'real music' very often. Except that somehow Madonna had managed to melt her way into my musical experiences. One morning Material Girl came on. Not only was it my all time favorite song, but I was now getting to view the video. The Marilyn Monroe style of the video had me in awe. The dress, the diamonds, the men throwing themselves at her -- and yet, she had choices. Anything or anyone -- she was in charge. She was empowered. She had everything -- including choices.
The next day, when I arrived, LaShawn had a surprise for me. She had recorded the video for me. Now, I could watch it at her house as many times as I wanted. (I didn't have a VCR at home either). And, I did. I'd watch it over, and over, and over again.
I would watch it...every morning. It was a wonderful way to start my day. It was an escape from home and from the parts of school I didn't like. The part where I was left on the outside of the crowd -- because I lived in reality.
I hated that I couldn't come out of my shell and be who I was when I wasn't in school. I've always been very personable (you can agree or disagree as you like, but that's how I've always seen myself). I was just too young to realize that I could have made a definite statement and impact if I hadn't been so ashamed of the inhibiting income (or lack of) factor.
How, I longed to live in their Silver-Spoon styled lives. Oh, Sweet Ricky Schroeder, with his matching socks. ;-)
One morning, I arrived at LaShawn's house and rang the door bell as I always did. No answer. I waited. I rang the doorbell again. No answer. Had they overslept? Oh, NO! We'd be late for school; her parents late for work.
I knocked and waited. I rang again. No answer.
I decided I best get to school. But, half way down the block I found that to be selfish. After all, what if something had happened to them? An, intruder? A gas leak? I don't know what, but something was wrong!
I tried again diligently until LaShawn's boyfriend came walking up. He was supposed to meet her at her house to walk her to school that morning. [It always struck me as odd because LaShawn was tall for her age and he was short for his; that being, my height. Sometimes she'd scoop him up like a baby and carry him down the hall at school. Strange, I always thought. He was very nice though.]
Suddenly, the door flies open and LaShawn is there ranting and yelling and burning a hole into my face and down into my heart! Her boyfriend looked as stunned as I. I didn't understand the anger she expelled but it permeated my senses and I found myself ill with grief and hurt and complete confusion. With that, I headed on my way to school.
When I arrived at Drama class, I found myself a corner to sit in as I hope to appear unnoticed. If anyone were to approach me I'd burst out in tears -- my eyes were burning with salt as it was. I was hurt -- but, I was also angered. How dare she? What had I ever done? I was alway appreciative. I was always a good friend. She bore in to me with no explanation! Rude. And, just plain mean. Some friend.
Of course, as we usually walked into class together, it was immediately noticed by her friend that something was wrong. She came up to me questioning, though I wavered not to tell from unearned or invited humiliation. I shared only a few words. I really didn't know what had happened.
LaShawn walked in all happy and giggly -- though shooting me a dirty and hateful look to the side -- before she headed back over to her corner of the Drama room to chit chat about all that was wonderful in her day.
Her friend left me aside and headed to join the group, or so I thought. She and LaShawn started in conversation which became heated. Half ended, her friend shrugged in disappointment and returned over to me. I looked at her questioning, as if she might have some answer for me to which she responded, "She's just a B!tich."
You know what? Her friend was right. Apparently, someone had started a rumor that I had said something like her boyfriend was "HOT" or something. As if? Whatever... [Where where those great comebacks when WE were kids?] LOL!
How funny as we get older we can see things for what they are. But, as a child, we aren't sure about anything. As much as we fear our instincts and as much as we long to trust them, we let the instincts of others influence our decisions more than we listen and follow what we hear from within.
So, I try to be sure to instill in my own children that 'what they feel inside' is who they are; not what the rest of the world tries to put on them. Because, the rest of their world at this age has no clue themselves.
I will admit, that I have built a glass, crystal box around my children. I want them to live the childhood I always wanted. I want them to be part of an 'in crowd.' Which might seem hypocritical. But, see? I can teach them that reality is out there -- without them having to suffer through it. And, in this way -- they can build their own 'in crowd' finding confidence in themselves -- not from the rest of the world.
Back to Material Girl. A Life Lesson. (Be sure to listen to the intro conversation...)
"She could be great, she could be a major star!" "She is a star." DAMN RIGHT! "Don't touch anything, don't change a thing." Damn Right Again.
Be true to your inner self this Wednesday. Wear your confidence on the outside like a white mink wrap, like diamonds, like a Hot-Pink, satin dress (or tux, if you are a guy). Know who you are and wear it well.
Happy Hump-Diggity Day!



Prohomemaker.Com said...

Just a wonderful post all the way around, and proof again of your excellent writing talent.


Farmer*swife said...

Pro-Home, Thanks. I was just putting myself out there as it was on my mind. The compliment on my writing warmed my heart.


kcinnova said...

So sorry about a friendship that went sour. :*(
I was never in the IN crowd and while I don't want my kids to lack for the materials that allow a person to be there (the right kind of clothing, for starters), I can't help the nerd factor. *sigh* Some of us just weren't created to be IN. I'm pretty sure that a person who makes it into the IN crowd is an extrovert, and we don't have any of those in my family!

Farmer*swife said...

KC, that's my whole point. My kids have everything on the level (well not everything, we aren't over-indulgers :-D ) like you and your husband provide so well for your boys....

and, they have everything to be equivalent to the "in crowd, wear it all, have it all, we are the all" BUT, my kids also have the smarts and support and appreciation of themselves to "make" their own "in crowd" that doesn't have to agree on what jean pattern, what christmas toy, or what icon's shoe you wear.

And, no matter what status a child falls into (though, I'd prefer they feel confident enough to choose rather than be chosen) -- true friends are not valued by status, income, intelligence, or social intellect.

Though, a few of those mixed together does help on occasion. LOL!

Lis Garrett said...

I think I was somewhere in the middle, although I might be just deluding myself! LOL! An extrovert, I was not, but I got along with whomever would talk to me. I was always scared to initiate friendships. In fact, I've had many people say what a snob they thought I was until they realized I was just shy. Oops!

I loved early Madonna. Whenever my sister wasn't around, I would steal into her room and sing into a hairbrush while staring at myself in a mirror. I always knew I was destined for greatness . . . in one way or another. ;-)