From fifth through eighth grades, I managed to acquire acne, braces and a sinus infection that lasted more than six months and eventually required surgery to correct. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a real dork, because I knew how to make a joke about the fat girl’s elastic pant waist to the skinny popular girls and was often the creator of genius code names like “Lardo” and “Lardass” for the girls that we wanted to befriend in person but stab in the back five minutes later. But I wasn’t cool enough to avoid such experiences as being asked out as a joke in sixth grade by one of the popular kids, who, by the way, is now a loser without any friends, that big fat poop.
By far, one of the biggest sources of embarrassment in middle school, greater than even my frizzy hair, peeling lips, red pimply face and constant congestion, was my family. See, my family is, at times, excessively loud and into fart jokes, and as a middle schooler who wanted nothing to do with her parents, family was often a source of discomfort.
One of the most embarrassing moments of my middle school life was when my parents took me and my gorgeous popular friend Michelle to a Cornell University football game. I had warned my parents beforehand that I expected them to look their sharpest or I might just die right there in the middle of the stadium, but my mom went ahead and wore her disgusting purple hoodless sweatshirt with matching sweatpants, which she pulled over her belly and into her crotch, to my absolute horror and disdain. Needless to say, Michelle never hung out with me again.
I blame my mom’s lack of fashion sense for chasing away all of my popular friends. I was thinking back to the Sweatpants Incident over this Thanksgiving break when it suddenly dawned on me how much I have changed since my middle school years. My family and the embarrassment they provide is now something I relish more than anything else.
For instance, I spent Thanksgiving with family at my Grammy’s house. On Thanksgiving Day, my aunt switched into embarrassing memories mode. She happily – and loudly – recollected a time when I was about four years old and had packed my suitcase for vacation. My mom looked into my bag and noticed that I had packed at least 30 pairs of underwear. When she inquired as to why I had packed quite so many pairs, I promptly and cheerfully replied, “Sometimes I get a little over-excited.” It was awesome to be reminded of this in front of 15 other people.
The morning after Thanksgiving, when everyone except my family had left my Grammy’s house, Grammy and I got a little rowdy. We walked around humming “Three Cheers for the Red White and Blue,” marching through every room in the house until we arrived at the bathroom. My dad was shaving and had locked the door, so Grammy repeatedly marched into the door and jiggled the handle while I hummed louder until my dad got mad and came out. Grammy and I did a small rotation in the bathroom and then marched downstairs to complete our parade’s tour.
The vacation culminated in a visit to my grandpa’s house, where my uncle engaged me in a conversation about London. While I talked, he proceeded to inhale a bowl of peanuts so quickly that he choked on one and coughed so hard that he let out a large fart. Then we returned home to Ithaca and our puppy, Kip, whose recently neutered ball remnants had swollen so large that it looked like he was about to give birth to yet another testicle.
In middle school, I would have been mortified by all of these events, but now I just think they’re hilarious. I love my family, purple sweatpants, parades, swollen testicle remnants and all.
Kaminsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.