Some Girls Have All the Beads

“Hey, we have a question for you,” said Popular Girl #3, who’s going with Popular Boy #2, the basketball player.  They have already gone to second base, which you can somehow tell just by looking at her.
 
My insides twisted as I took one last look in the bathroom mirror and tucked my hairbrush into my turquoise Le Sportsac purse.  Too bad sixth grade social hierarchy wasn’t determined by purses alone, or else I might have been better off.  I was the new kid.  It wasn’t like this at the other school.
I turned to face Popular Girl #3 and found that she had assembled a gaggle of followers, with their hands on their hips and smirks on their brace-faces. 
“Uh, yeah?” I replied, hoping uselessly that she was talking to someone else. 
She took a step closer, and I could feel her eyes on me.  But instead of meeting her stare, I fixated on her shiny add-a-bead necklace.
Blue, blue, blue, gold.  Blue, blue, blue, gold.  Some of the gold beads were fluted.  “Her parents must be rich,” I thought.  She had a lot more beads on her necklace than I did on mine. 

Some girls just have more beads than anyone else.
“We want to know,” she drawled, “why you don’t wear a bra.”  They laughed while I looked down at my scuffed saddle shoes, trying to think of what to say next.
I didn’t have an answer to her question.  I didn’t know why my mother hadn’t gotten me a bra yet.  I was the only girl who didn’t wear one.  Maggie P. got hers over the weekend, and came to school today flaunting her Teenform through her white uniform blouse.
I suppose as far as breasts go, I didn’t have any yet.  And just the thought of asking my impassive mother to buy me a bra was enough to make me want to hide in my closet.  She wasn’t exactly easy to approach.
Tears began to sting my eyes.  I looked down and pretended to dig for something in my purse as I muttered “I don’t know,” and pushed open the door out to the green-tiled hallway.  I felt the blood rush to my face, and I knew it was purple.
I spilled out into a blessedly empty hallway and rounded the corner to my locker.  As I choked back sobs and fumbled with the clunky lock, I waited for the girls to pass by, hoping they were done with me.  The echoes of laughter faded until nothing remained but the ticking sound of the ancient clock on the wall.
I stared at my reflection in the tiny locker mirror and heard my father’s voice in my head, “Chin up, shoulders back, Tootsie.”  I dried my eyes and cheered myself up by looking at the pictures of Duran Duran, Adam Ant and Dexys Midnight Runners on my locker door.
“Maybe today is the day my mother will notice that I am growing up.” I silently hoped.
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Comments

  1. Oh I remember awkward moments like that. Girls asking me when I might shave my legs or armpits etc. So embarrassing!

    I hope your mom did realize you were getting older and helped you to purchase a training bra so you could feel less self conscious. Sometimes kids can be such jerks!

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    1. I think I actually had to ask her for one. Can't remember exactly how long it took for me to work up the nerve, but it was finally resolved!

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  2. This is a perfect post. You tell the story so vividly and I felt - and related to - every cringing emotion of it. Having my own unapproachable mother, it wasn't the bra, per se, but so many parts of growing up that I stumbled through on my own. And then having a gaggle of popular girls to track our every failure to match up. I hope you've gotten yourself every literal and figurative shiny bead in the world now.

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    1. Thank you, Cindy! My hope is to have my own daughter feel she can come to me with anything. That would have made things a little easier, I think. Much happier with my "beads" now!

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  3. You took me right back to the end of fifth grade when I was the first girl in school to wear a bra. It was so embarrassing and awful! I was teased incessantly! It's no fun being on either end of that bell curve, huh? Growing up can be the pits.

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    1. You are so right. The girls who were the first to wear bras got teased just as much. Man, kids are cruel!

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  4. Oh wow, your descriptions were bang on!
    You brought every aspect of your story to life, and I felt like I was there with you. Man, growing up sucks!
    Great story!

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    1. Thanks, Dawn! So many aspects of adolescence for everyone were just unpleasant.

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  5. oh wow. great job bringing us back to our lovely adolescent days. Come On Eileen's gonna run through my head all day now. :D

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    1. Loved that song!! Thanks for reading.

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  6. Ugh... I was a late bloomer, too, and hated every minute of it. Loved this post!

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    1. Thank you! Being a late bloomer was definitely not a lot of fun.

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  7. Greatest first paragraph in a blog post EVER. So with you. And your period details were amazing. The add a bead (I had those) and the Le Sport Sac, had that too. It was all so terribly important. Did you go to St. Rita? That's were we went. Maybe St. Monica? Anyway, this was brilliant-- I keep saying it to you and it keeps being true.

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    1. St. Rita, it was St. Rita!!! I still remember that girls bathroom in the hallway. I'm sure it's all different now. I liked that school...it wasn't all bad. But you know, 500 words. Thank you so much for the encouragement & compliments. Means a lot coming from you, lady!

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  8. Oh, I can totally relate. I, too, was a bit of a late bloomer. Combine that with the fact that I didn't really want to grow up, I was certainly the last one to take this leap into adolescence. Kids can be so mean, can't they?

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    1. Would love to see a study on why kids are so mean to each other!

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  9. I really loved this. Your writing transported me straight back to eight grade when I was the new kid and decidedly unpopular. Looking back, I sometimes wonder how we all managed to make it through those turbulent years, and out the other side. Thanks for this little reminder of how those years shaped us and made us into the people we are today.

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    1. Thank you, Samantha. It is a miracle that we all survived adolescence.

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  10. Your writing here is superb. Your descriptions are just spot on. No amateur traps here Yeah Write people!!! Just loved reading this post.

    I developed early - of course the reward for that is being smaller than I was in 6th grade after nursing two kids - but I was the new girl in junior high and never Miss Popular #1-6. Maybe #8 on my best day.

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    1. Thank you, Carinn. I appreciate the compliment. Popular Girl #8 on your best day...love that.

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  11. This is such a great post. So honest and real. Loved this line: "They have already gone to second base, which you can somehow tell just by looking at her."

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  12. I so remember those damn blue and gold necklaces! What an awful time. But I bet those popular girls (a) don't have cool blogs now and (b) have saggy boobs. You win.

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  13. I hated those new bra years. So much. Oh so much. My new bra came unclasped at my aunt's house in front of my 5 MALE cousins who could see it through my yellow dress. Why did my mom let me where a dress that showed my new bra? Ugh.

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    1. Oh, that makes me cringe! Those bra malfunctions early on were the worst! When it happens to me now, I just laugh.

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  14. Girls are mean, girls are mean, girls are mean! This captured that moment perfectly.

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    1. I know, they're awful. And I'm sure there were times that I was less than kind to other girls, as well. Boys don't seem to fall into this trap as much.

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    2. Oh, I forgot to say...is that header new? It's hard to remember what people had before, but it seems new to me and I really, really love it!

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    3. Yes, it is new. So glad you like it...thank you, thank you!

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  15. Oh ow. I got asked that question a lot. Of course, as the daughter of a bra burning hippie with an unfortunately large chest the reason was, "Because bras are sexist unless you need them for your back." Yeah. That one made me really popular. The school actually forced me to wear one after the gym teacher complained about watching them flop. They were B cups. I wanted to tell them that he was a perv, but nobody would have listened. I still hate bras. Even though I have to wear them for my back now.

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    1. Yeah, bras are the invention of the devil. Except now I'm so used to wearing one, I feel weird without it.

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  16. Oh, I remember those days. I think my mother bought me a bra when I asked her about the hair under my arms and what I should do about it. My grandmother, bless her, settled the all important panty hose question (nylons vs. knee socks). Many of the other girls were wearing nylons and I still had to wear knee socks. I felt so awkward. She bought me my first pair. I think that may have been one of the few times she actually overruled my mother.

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    1. Nylons vs, knee socks...I had forgotten about that dilemma!

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  17. Oh, wow. This is goooood!

    I totally remember being there. Couldn't wait and begged and pleaded and bargained.

    Now? What I'd give to NOT have to strap one on every single day of my life.

    And I gotta agree...Duran Duran always made me smile, too. =)

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    1. I know, the bra is a curse, especially in this Texas heat!!

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  18. Ooooh, this brings back memories. Ugh. I had the same situation in sixth grade and remember the torturous details clearly. What a gorgeous post; beautifully written. The details are amazing and I was right there with you in that bathroom (albeit Duran Duran, etc. were after my time!). Well done!

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    1. Thank you so much. Glad you liked it.

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  19. If you had met me, we could have been the flat-chested, new girls together!

    I could probably write 100 posts about not fitting in. I would never be young again. ;-)

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    1. Well, I am learning that flat-chestedness has its benefits as we age! No saggies!! :)

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  20. This was great! I was thinking about the popular girls at my HS recently. They have totally forgotten that they were so mean and act as if we were such great friends, it's so weird to me.

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    1. Funny how that happens, doesn't it? I remember at my 10 year reunion, this girl who had been really mean to me just came right up and threw her arms around me! Good thing I am over it and have a forgiving state-of-mind!

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  21. You took me back in time. Your details were fantastic. Ellen

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    1. Thank you, Ellen! Glad you liked it.

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  22. Oh my goodness. So relatable! I remember those sort of moments with the girls at school and wishing I didn't have to bring up the uncomfortable topics with my mother. Well done!

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  23. My stomach was turning in knots...it's crazy how a story like this one can just take me right back to the most awkward years of my life...and it makes me think about my own girls too and how I wish I could shield them from moments like this. It's sort of a shame we all have to go through it.

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    1. I know, all I think about is how a) I hope my daughter never experiences this and b) I hope she is never the one to inflict this on others.

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  24. aww..I can feel the awkwardness.

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    1. Well, I guess I did my job, then! :)

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  25. Girls are so mean. Really. And they can still be mean when you are an adult. I remember being a substitute teacher and hearing girls say things about other teachers (they were nice enough not to say anything to me) that would have made me cry. It is a shame that they waste their time being so destructive.

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    1. It is a shame, I agree. I do not look forward to going through the teen years with my daughter! Ack!

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  26. Oh my lawd, the horrible thing that is puberty. You did such a good job conveying the emotion, the awkwardness and desperation of just a young thing. Kudos!

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  27. Mine was Guess Jeans and Dooney & Bourke purses, but other than that it was EXACTLY THE WAY IT FELT. You described it perfectly. Perfectly. Blown away by this.

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    1. Oh, yes, I remember the Guess jeans & D&B purses so well. Am thinking D&B came later down the line of the purse obsession. Le Sportsac was like a starter purse. Thank you so much for the compliment!

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  28. you are an amazing writer!
    xxoo
    Sisy

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