my family moved from caldwell to boise when i was 14 years old, between my 8th and 9th grade years of junior high. good times, right?
we lived in the boundaries of east junior high.
east junior high was “full,” so i had to go to north junior high. (go vikings!)
junior high is a super fun time to try to make new friends. especially when you’re a looker like i was.
[insert horrible 9th grade school photo here. (or don’t. because it really is just the most awful thing you’ve ever seen. unless you beg.)]
9th grade is also the year that lds teens start seminary. i met jennifer beynon in seminary, and she graciously invited me to sit with her and her friends at lunch.
because movies might not portray reality most of the time. but when there’s a scene in one of those movies where the new kid is looking for somewhere to sit in the cafeteria and feels all awkward and like an outsider and miserable and alone and so on, that is REAL LIFE.
so let us all give thanks to jennifer beynon for sparing me that agony.
fast forward a couple of weeks.
i totally have my sea legs now. totally know all about being a 9th grader at njhs. totally. ahem.
one day the hot lunch offerings included french fries and fry sauce. and john – one of jen’s friends with whom we sat – had a tray full of fries.
john ate a few fries but then pushed them away and offered the rest to me.
“thanks,” i said and dug in.
jen hadn’t heard john offer the fries to me and spoke up.
“hey,” she said to me, “you’re eating her fries. stop eating her fries.”
did i hear that right? did jen just call john a her? i kept eating.
“don’t eat her fries, alyce.”
i did hear her right. how embarrassing for jen!
luckily, john hadn’t heard jen’s major faux pas.
“jen,” i whispered, pointing. “you just called him a her! that is a dude.”
because i obviously had known john a lot longer than jen had. i knew.
“no. no, she’s not a dude.” jen’s eyes were wide.
“yes, he is.”
“no, alyce. no.” she was giggling now. (she had beautiful straight teeth and a great smile, btw. i had braces.) i can’t be 100% positive, but i believe she was also hitting
john’s the girl’s arm and telling her the funny thing that just happened, i.e., throwing me under the bus.
it no longer mattered whether or not i had permission to be eating the fries. a lot more was at stake. i had been thinking john was john for a few weeks now. i needed time for it all to sink in. and to realize what an idiot i had just made of myself.
you can assume that my face was so red it was purple. and splotchy. i had never been so mortified.
“so. what’s your name anyway?” i stammered. because why would people in 9th grade have the social graces to find out basics like name and gender upon first meeting.
“what did you think my name was?”
“uh… er… john.”
laughing all around. except not by me. or if i was laughing, it was the embarrassed and nervous and i want to die kind.
lunch proceeded. fries got eaten. fry sauce was enjoyed. i was mostly silent.
the bell rang. salvation!
vivian got my attention as i prepared to escape to class. “so you really thought i was a guy?”
“umm, yeah.” (please never make me admit it again.)
“did i turn you on?”