How Not to be Cool

Recently, I’ve received a lot of sweet and encouraging words about my posts.  My favorite messages are the ones that say that I make them laugh.  I love being told that I’m funny, mostly because in person, my sense of humor can be really awkward.  I always think I’m hilarious, and people do end up laughing at me, but it’s usually because I’m being inadvertently funny while trying to be funny in a totally different, cool-person way.  I’ve finally come to accept, however, that that’s just never going to happen.

I’ve never been very good at hiding my true nature.  Trust me, I try.  Even when I was little, I tried to make everyone think I was cool and adorable.

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But the truth is I was crazy… and a little gross.

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So, instead of telling you stories about how awesome and cool I am, I’ve decided to share a few stories that are actually true.  And hopefully funny.

One of my mom’s favorite stories is the time she caught flipping the bird at the Easter Bunny.  Let me just say right now that I was three years old and I did not know what I was doing.  A few days earlier, I had gotten my middle finger stuck in our screen door.  That was apparently the scariest moment of my little life up until that point because I still remember it.  I thought I was going to be stuck in that door forever and they were going to have to chop my finger off.

Anyway, later that week, my mom and my grandma took me to see the Easter Bunny.  I’m sure Mom and Mimi were really enjoying their day until they paid for the pictures and turned around to see me, standing right in front of the rabbit, and about ten other kids waiting to get their pictures taken, and shooting him The Finger.

“JACKIE!  What are you DOING?!” my mom screamed.

“Showing him my hurt finger.”  Duh, Mom.

At that point, my mom walked right up to that poor fellow in the rabbit costume and explained, with a distinct emphasis on every word, “SHE’S SHOWING YOU HER HURT FINGER.”

The rabbit just nodded, bobbing his head up and down.  Good thing it didn’t fall off.  That could have been even more traumatizing than the little kid with hobbit hair making rude hand gestures in the middle of the mall.

Sadly, I don’t have a picture of that day, but I do have a picture of the day I met Roger Rabbit.  I was terrified of his movie as a kid, so I have no idea why my parents thought I wanted to meet him.

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Clearly, I am not happy.

Speaking of things that scared me, nothing in my entire life, not even my intense fear of zombies, compares to the day I realized what it really meant to be afraid of something.  To be honest, I still feel really guilty about it, because it stemmed from a really sweet gesture.  Around the same time that I flipped off the Easter Bunny, my dad bought me E.T. the Extraterrestrial on VHS.  That night, we all gathered around the television, turned off the lights, and played the movie.

I didn’t last five minutes.  As soon as I saw E.T.’s creepy little silhouette running through the grass, I was done.  I was so scared that I started bawling and my parents quickly turned the movie off.  Now that I think about it, I think I had the same reaction to The Wicked Witch of the West, but my fear of her was nothing compared to the sense of sheer terror that E.T. ignited in me.  My fear of him lasted for a ridiculously long time.  I even had my dad go back and make sure he wasn’t hiding in my room after my cousin showed me a picture of him when I was nine.

I didn’t try watching E.T. again until the restored version was released on DVD, and I am proud to announce that I am no longer scared of him.  I think the new CGI effects had a lot to do with that, as I’m still not overly fond of the puppet.

Confession: Although I have successfully overcome my E.T. phobia, I’m still not okay with Yoda.  Creepy little puppet, he is.

Along with being a little wuss who was scared of absolutely everything, I was also remarkably dumb.  Although I do not blame my exposure to Disney for unrealistic expectations in men, I do blame them for misleading me on what should have never even been up for discussion.

For example, thanks to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, I truly and honestly believed that diamonds and rubies and sapphires came out of the ground looking beautiful and sparkly.

I can’t even tell you how long it took me to figure out that real diamonds do not look like this.  I actually think I was in college before it finally hit me that Snow White totally lied to me.  I don’t know why it took me so long.  Granted, it’s not something that I think about very often.  I just remembering being in a shop and I saw a garnet rock, the way it actually looks before it’s cut down into the diamond shape, and thinking, “Huh… that’s a funny looking garn… OH MY GOD.”

Dumb.  Kid.

The other example I have of my sweet and simple trusting nature (at least when it comes to Disney movies) stems from my repeated viewing of The Lion King when I was six years old.  My took me to see that movie at least five or six times because my grandma was really sick and my mom was pregnant with my sister, so he got to entertain me.

After one such viewing, we were driving (I think to the supermarket), and I was looking at my new Lion King trading cards (all of which I still have).  I found one with a photograph of a warthog.

“Look!  It’s Pumbaa!”  I showed him.

“It is!  You better not call him a pig or else he might charge you!”

That, of course, was a reference to Pumbaa bowling into those hyenas that called him a pig, but as a young and embarrassingly naive little girl, I didn’t realize that.  Thus began the next five years of actually believing that warthogs understood the word “pig.”

When you think about it, it isn’t much of a stretch.  I mean, dogs understand “sit” and “fetch.”  Why couldn’t a warthog understand the word “pig?”  Not that I’d ever get brave enough to actually go up to a warthog and yell “PIG” at him, but still.

Speaking of yelling things at animals, I had a friend who was absolutely convinced that if you yelled at an emu, it would fall over and die.  Fortunately, I never bought into that one.  But the warthog thing?  Oh, that lasted forever.

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There I am, watching my Disney and believing every life lesson those characters taught me.  You can tell from the blank look on my face that there is absolutely no brain activity going on in this picture.

So there you have it.  My childhood in a nutshell.  I like to think that today, I’m a little wiser and a little less gullible, but then again, I want to write for a living.  Maybe wisdom and reality are simply beyond my reach.

6 thoughts on “How Not to be Cool

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