Stories of a Family Too Dysfunctional to be Fiction
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I'll let you know right from the beginning that I lacked the balls to get the fuck out at such a young age, so this marked the beginning of my quest to buck the fuck up.
I was the epitome of an awkward ugly duckling throughout the course of my adolescence. My grand entrance into this world from the womb was the first sign that the journey from childhood to adulthood would be a series of trials and tribulations. Apparently I had tucked myself into a comfortable fetal position while in the womb, laying on my left side and causing my left ear to fold over. The ear eventually unfolded a tad, but still held a hunched position while the right was normal as can be. From a distance it looked as if my ear was winking at someone.
The folded left ear was just the beginning, however. Somehow I managed to grow in three front teeth...yes, three! This extra was no extraneous baby tooth either; this was a bonafied, real-deal, permanent adult tooth that had grown in right in front. Of course the dentist pulled the tooth right away. This left my already gawky appearance even gawkier for once the extra tooth had been pulled, all that was left was a huge gap between front tooth number one and front tooth number two.
The folded ear, the gap between my two front teeth both laid the perfect foundation for nature to snowball the oddities that were to come. The mixture of heritages from my parental units laid the groundwork for a losing battle. My father's creamy white Eastern European skin mixed with my mother's oily, yet wrinkle-free olive complexion from the heart of the Mediterranean, created a hotbed for acne. Doubled with the fact that I received the menstrual gift of womanhood that marked the arrival of puberty at the absurdly young and impressionable age of nine years, there was no hope. Developing a body that my peers would envy in just a few short years, in the fourth grade of grammar school, branded me as an outcast no matter how hard I tried to fit in. Still to this day white shirts hold a stigma for me. In grammar school I wore baggy, dark-colored t-shirts in the hopes no one would notice the obvious differences in our developing bodies. Alas, there was no stopping the age-old action of snapping a bra. No one was safe from the bully girls, eons from developing any sort of female-esque body shape, nor the sarcastic boys who would remain just shy of the five-foot mark for the better part of their lives. To add insult to injury, I was the new kid. My family and I had just relocated from the Bay Area to Sacramento and I had been ripped away from everyone I had grown up with to this point, along with any sort of peer acceptance that came from the camaraderie of beginning and moving up in the ranks from pre-school to grammar school and beyond.
So here I am, a shy nine-year old girl with an ear that winks, a gap the size of the grand canyon between my two front teeth, a face full of acne and the oily skin to complement it, an awkward and developing body and I'm blessed with mother nature's gift of womanhood now making a regular appearance once a month. Not only was I completely and utterly self-conscious, confused and lost in an adult world, but my mother still felt nine was too young for tampons, so she made my life just that much more awkward by having me navigate the gigantic and uncomfortable Kotex pads that were oh-so inconspicuous each time I paid a visit to the little girls' room to change these horrific diapers. Obviously the double-stuffed period pads weren't the most flush-friendly, so each time I had to change them, I had to weigh the pros and cons of a possible toilet overflow versus the embarrassment of exiting the stall with a tissue wrapped package that every other girl could only fathom to be a diaper of bandages from a horrific wound.
Needless to say, I didn't fit in well. My closest confidant and ally was a small tabby cat named Monty and my textbooks.
My father, however, refused to let me nerd up in my books on the weekends when my mother was at work and he was off. His narcissistic tendencies had him constantly engaging in some physical activity that he demanded I partake in. If you have never been to Sacramento in the dead of summer, consider yourself one of the lucky few. The temperature each day hovers between blazing and scorching. This heat was, of course, no concern to Captain Ego, aka Dad. He would drag me on 20-mile bicycle rides through the dry and dull neighborhoods that made up my small existence. Of course I would try my best to keep cool by donning shorts and a tank top, but I was never safe from the evil heat nor the awkward comments from Daddy-Dearest. He always made sure to point out that I had breasts now and in an awkward attempt to hide his glaring stares, ridiculed me for not owning a bra yet. He would then move on to the pimple paradise that had found its niche on my face and would subject me to his amateur attempts at the medical practice of dermatology. His pimple popping skills didn't do much more than leave scars on my face and on the rapidly diminishing self-confidence I possessed. He always managed to leave me feeling utterly ugly and weak with his matter-of-fact statements on my chubby, flabby and altogether fat torso and my complete lack of any photogenic qualities. It was no wonder I lacked the confidence in my self to try and make any friends, let alone any ability to ignore the more often attempts to ridicule an ugly duck such as myself.
One day the clique of girls that held the ever-desired title of most popular made notice of me despite my constant attempts at invisibility. I was now the target of all the fun-poking and ridiculing they could serve up. From my dermatological plague to my pubescent body to my discount store wardrobe...nothing was safe. I played it cool for a while; until I had endured more than any young child should ever have to. I was able to hide my complete self-loathing and sadness throughout my classes, but it all came flooding out when I arrived home. Greeted by my mother and her obligatory martini, all empathy for me as an awkward, young girl was absent. She was far too deep in her own self-pity to realize that I needed a mother to comfort, console and begin to put the pieces of my shattered self-image back together. Instead, my sobs were met with one statement that had been emblazoned on my soul for all eternity:
"Buck the fuck up or get the fuck out."