Tag Archives: click

Misfit

I am a misfit. I do not fit into any particular group, nor do I even try anymore. I have never been a “click” person, preferring to be a loner, unless someone wants to engage me on a one-on-one basis. I really don’t like people all that much, although there are exceptions.

Growing up in Manhattan, I went to Stuyvesant Day Camp, out in Staten Island. Each day I would leave my house, stand on the corner of 14th Street and Avenue A with my canteen and lunch and wait for the bus to pick me up. Since all the counselors were liberal hippy types we’d sing Negro Spirituals all the way there.

I was always the person who somehow attracted the outcast, or oddball (you know that person that everyone basically rolls their eyes at, or ridicules behind their back). Although I was never the object of derision, the groups I was associated with engaged in it. All through my life, starting in day camp, I was somehow a person who the misfits looked to. I never understood why and whenever the poor person who was bullied by the popular kids, befriended me, I wanted to say to them, “Why me? Please leave me alone.” I believe that, although I didn’t speak up, I never took part in the actual bullying and what they saw was a person who was different from the others in the group—someone with a certain amount of, not only compassion but empathy. I believe I didn’t just feel sorry for them, I identified with them because I also felt like an outcast. I truly understood their plight, not because I was the nerd, but I was an outcast masquerading as “normal.” I just wanted to fit in. As children, any kid who is not white bread, any kid who is different, is in for a heartbreaking childhood.

When I was about 11 and in day camp, there was a girl named Lorelei who was the object of cruel jokes, mostly because she was different—a very free spirit—and did not wear undies. That was noted when we changed into our clothes after swimming and she was relentlessly teased by the other girls. Sadly one of the mothers even wrote a song about her that became a chant every day. Since I did not sing the song nor did I take part in the jokes, she gravitated to me. One day she asked me over to her house for a sleepover, which was mortifying to me. I didn’t want anyone to know lest I become the object of the popular girls’ wrath. I put her off for as long as I could and asked my mom who said, “Just go over there. It will be nice.” I was hoping she would tell me not to go, but she didn’t so I bit the bullet and said I would go. She was SO happy that she had a “friend” but I wanted to keep it a secret. The day came for my sleepover and I reluctantly went over with my mom. I discovered that Lorelei was very wealthy and lived in a gorgeous townhome in Manhattan. Her dad, an older gentleman with gray hair, was a widow so she had no mother to pattern her behavior after. He also walked with leg braces and was very debilitated, but very nice. I think he was over the moon that his daughter actually had a friend over for a sleepover. I was determined not to have a good time and kept wanting to call my mom to pick me up, but I figured I’d stick it out. But something interesting happened that evening—I began to actually enjoy myself. Lorelei was actually a fun person and I have a good memory of playing with her parakeet, putting him under the cover and watching him burrow himself out. In spite of myself, and against all odds, I gave in and laughed and enjoyed the night. I remember thinking, “Ok, I’ll go over and get it over with. Then I will make an excuse and never come back.” So, although I had a good time, I still figured this was a one-time thing. Then, the inevitable question was asked, “Can you come over again next week?” I wanted to say NO, but I just couldn’t hurt her feelings so I agreed. Again, the next time I went over, I had a fun time. But, somehow the popular girls got wind of my fraternizing with the enemy and their rebuke was swift. My friend Denise said, “You know if you continue to be friends with her, you will not have any more friends.” At that point I decided not to listen to her and basically ignored her warning. I don’t know what would’ve happened in the future, but I never had to make that decision. The problem was solved because one day Lorelei stopped coming to the day camp, and I literally never knew what became of her. But that taught me a lesson that you shouldn’t be so quick to try to fit in. As the years have gone by, and as I have gotten older, I don’t care anymore about fitting in or being popular. I am who I am, and I am not a social butterfly—I often have to force myself to be in groups and interact. Do I care?—sometimes I do, but mostly I don’t.

Haunting Melody

It’s funny how a song that you haven’t heard since you were a teenager, can suddenly bring you back to a moment in time, good or bad. A while back, I was in Starbucks and I heard a haunting melody that sounded familiar. Upon listening more closely, I realized what I was hearing and I was suddenly transported back in time to the age of 16.

When I was a kid, my friends Janet, Mark, and Billy met the charismatic Richie M. hanging around Playground 12 in Stuyvesant Town. He had two friends, Pat and Tommy and the 6 of us somehow formed a sort of click. Richie was very tall (6’ 3”) and good looking, had dark hair and wore glasses. Conversely, his sidekick and best friend, Tommy was very short, had a pug nose, a big mouth, funny teeth, and was in general not very attractive, although he was a really nice guy who we all loved. I think they had a symbiotic relationship and he lived vicariously through Richie. It was such a contrast—kind of like Mutt and Jeff. But more than Richie’s appearance was his personality—he just had that special “something” that attracted people, mostly girls. The group eventually grew to include others, the sisters who Janet and I privately referred to as “The Bozo Girls” because of their bushy red hair, and a number of other peripherals who came and went. But there was no question who the leader was and that was Richie. I was a total innocent at that time, a good girl, and had never even had a boyfriend. So, naturally I was flattered that the fabulous Richie wanted to hang with us. At first, we were all platonic, but as always happens with males and females, sex gets into the mix. Every other day, it seemed that Richie had a new adoring girl on his arm and I just assumed that I was not “worthy” of Richie’s greatness—I had to be content to worship him on the sidelines like everyone else. So, one would think that since I was lacking a boyfriend, I would jump at the chance when asked to “go out” with someone. But I guess I was still selective, even at that stage in my life. One day, Tommy asked me out and I said I’d think about it—not a good sign. I remember going home and weighing the pros and cons: Pros-He had a part time job at a theater on Broadway and could get me into shows. He made some pretty good money, even at age 17 and could treat me. Cons: I just could not for the life of me picture myself remotely kissing him and unfortunately, that kind of goes with being somebody’s “girlfriend.” The next day I gave him my answer, “NO” and then said those dreaded words that nobody wants to hear, “But we can be friends.”

Then out of the blue, the next day, and unexpectedly for me, Richie asked me out. My answer was an immediate YES, YES! I remember being so shocked but feeling like I had reached the mountaintop and felt “on top of the world.” I literally looked in back of me to see who he was really talking to—it could not be me, of course. But it was and I drifted on top of a cloud when I went home that night and almost had to pinch myself to see if I was indeed awake. Of course, I had no idea what it even meant to be a girlfriend of anyone, let alone a girlfriend of the most sought after boy in Stuyvesant Town. I felt remotely guilty about turning Tommy down the day before, but the guilt didn’t last very long.

Since we lived near the East Village (of Greenwich Village), we would sometimes go over to a discotheque called the Electric Circus, which catered to the younger crowd because they did not serve liquor. One night I remember scrounging around to get the $4 admission fee and we arrived with Richie leading the way. We were all dancing together as a group, and having a great time while colorful amoebas splashed over the walls accompanied by the rhythmic psychedelic music of that time. Suddenly, a slow song came on, and Richie asked me to dance. The name of the song was, “I love you more than you’ll ever know” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears. I almost fell into a trance and for the duration of that song it felt as if there were only two people on the dance floor and in the world. Since he was so tall, I hung onto his waist, with my head leaning against his warm chest, feeling his heart beating, and was only aware of that haunting song and the flashing psychedelic lights across the ceiling and walls. At that moment, I loved him with all my heart and soul, just like the words of that song. Richie was indeed my first love, and my first broken heart because unfortunately that moment in time did not last. But for that night, my dreams came true.