I was always the last girl standing. The boys would form a line on one side of the gym and the girls would be about half court facing the males. Standing there, the boys would eye the lot of potential partners. Oddly it felt like some ancient mating ritual. On square dancing days, I had all I could do to trudge into the Steven White gym. Standing in line I could not hold still-my feet moved constantly shifting weight. I stared at the shaft of light that gleamed off the gym floor, averting eye contact wondering what was wrong with me.
Once a month, I sat on the Board of Directors for the Kennebec Girl Scout Council. I bet I was the only student to ever walk the halls of Biddeford High School with a green Girl Scout Uniform. Boys laughed at me.
“You in front. Kneel on the grass. We need to see those behind you.” Without question, every student in front knelt on the ground. I felt the grass dampen my knickers. They lived in the back of my drawer. Forgotten. My mother made them along with a matching, but reversible patchwork quilted bolero.
“It’s picture day,” my mother reminded lightly. “Wear your knickers,” she added. NO ONE wears knickers, I thought as I pulled the elastic hem down below my knees. As I walked out the door, my mother gave me a peck on the cheek. “You look nice. Have a good day! And smile!”
The Girl Scout uniform is gone and I’m not sure what happened to my tie dyed outfit, but the fear of being the last one standing remains. As an adult, shouldn’t I be OVER this? Sometimes, I think I am just too sensitive. Then again, who wants to be rejected? Yesterday on Day One of our workshop, we were directed to pick a partner by the end of Day Two. “We can be partners!” I offered a coworker.
At the end of the day, my coworker bent down to talk to me as I sat finishing notes on my computer. “I am going to be partners with Sally. She knows what she is doing with writing. You don’t. I need someone with experience.”
What?! I screamed inside. I swallowed hard. “O.K.” I said. What was I going to say? Just like those boys, it is clear that she doesn’t know me as a teacher or a writer. Clearly, she knows not of the decades I have spent sharing my passion of words with my primary students. She also doesn’t know of the decades that I have worked through my own writing and that I am continuing to experiment with the craft. She’s never read my blog. Clearly, she doesn’t know. The image of the 14 year old, standing alone is all so vivid and it still hurts.