A Visit with the Ghost of Awkwardness Past

I was talking to a friend the other day. The conversation turned to our favorited books-turned-movies and, therefore, about some of our favorite actors-as-novel-character-hotties. You know, Tom Hardy as Heathcliff:

[Source] Really, Tom Hardy? With the smoldering stare ? Stop it. Just stop. *faints*


I mean, I realize that with Hardy-boy Heathcliff, you have to be able to get over what a deranged f*ckhead his character is, but I think that I have proven that this is no problem for me. Smolder, Hardy, smolder! The list also included Edwardian babe #1:

[source] Mr. Darcy #1. Colin Firth is the ultimate Darcy, but in a chaste, wholesome sort of way. To quote my friend, “Firth’s Darcy is the man I want to make me Mrs. Darcy…..”

  And Edwardian babe#2:

[source] “…..and, well, I just want MacFayden’s Darcy to make me Naughty Lizzie.” Right you are, my friend. Why yes, Lady Catherine, I SHALL pollute the shades of Pemberly thusly!

The Darcy Twins are hard to compete with, but my friend and I agreed that our first and, perhaps, forever leading-man-as-literary-hottie love will always be Christian Bale as Laurie in Little Women.

  What a sweet face. Except when he’s pouting, which, I’ve learned as an adult, he does for approximately 47.8% of the movie:

You’re welcome for all of this book-to-movie eye candy. That, however, isn’t really the point.

What was most interesting about this conversation was the moment where we both confessed to watching Little Women every single day after school for a year.

Every.Damn.Day.

For me, it became a grounding moment, an almost meditative action. No matter how terrible school was or how I’d been teased or bullied, I could come home and watch the March girls grow up. It was a perfect movie. I would argue it still is a perfect movie for adolescent girls and beyond. I wanted to be a Jo, even though I often felt like an Amy. This makes sense because, while I thought myself such the adult, I was actually 11 and, therefore, a giant pain in the ass.

  Little Women taught me about death:

  It taught me about the importance of following your own star:

  And it taught me that, somedays, your milkshake just isn’t bringing the boys to the yard and that that’s okay.

More than anything, however, I think it taught me that everything’s going to be okay in the end. For me, the message of Little Women was, “You’ll get there, girlfriend. Promise.”

Once I entered the tumultuous cesspool that is the seventh grade, however, Little Women wasn’t meeting me where I was anymore. Thus began my love affair with the dark siren that is Andrew Lloyd Weber.

I stole my grandparents’ VHS copy of CATS and watched that every day after school for a year. I was hormonally chubby and had acne, braces, and a haircut that can only be described as “of the criminally insane.”

Skimbleshanks mocked me with his plucky optimism and grooming. And while the Rum Tum Tugger caused many a stirring, I sort of hated him because I knew that, if I ever encountered him, he would politely sign my autograph and then go make out with Jenny and Dots. Those sluts.

But Grizabella? That bitch got me. Where the year before, the March girls and their unfailing optimism had bolstered me, in the darkness of seventh grade, “Grizabella let me lick my wounds bitterly in the dark alley of my soul.” (Note: Twelve-year-old me wrote that exact line angstily in a college rule notebook and I included it here for your reading pleasure. I have no shame anymore.) As such, I sang “Memory” in the shower every day.

I had lots of feelings in Middle School. Like you do.

This, my friends, is the ultimate bullshit of adolescence. In my twelve-year-old head, Grizabella and I were kindred spirits. “No one wanted to dance with me at the mixer this weekend, Grizabella. I bet no one wants to dance with you either because you’re a dirty, mangy alley cat.”

As an adult, my relationship with the Griz has changed. Now that I have had a small taste of the harsher truths of abandonment, loss, rejection, fear, and self loathing, I have a greater respect for her as a character. I also have a great desire to go back in time and backhand myself, screaming, “It’s not that bad, bitch! Just wait! You think missing Xenon: Girl of the 21st Century tonight was bad? JUST WAIT! You think you get Grizabella? You don’t get her! You don’t know her pain!” And then I’d slap me again because, as we all know, I am nothing if not measured and rational.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about younger me. This trip down memory lane, while EXTREMELY embarrassing, was a good one. After all, my new favorite mantra is, “How can one expect to become old and wise if they have not first been young and stupid?” (Tori Murden McClure)

So here’s what I’ve learned about younger me:

1. I was a bajillion years old even at twelve.

2. I was hardly the only one to have gone through a prolonged Ugly Ducking phase. (And, yes, Mom and Dad, that’s what it was. Your protests that I’ve “always been beautiful” are in vain. And yet, I love you so much for always thinking I was beautiful, even when I didn’t.)

3. At some point in everyone’s life (yea, dudes too), we will be Amy, Beth, Jo, or Meg. I’m in a Meg phase now. I’m not a huge fan, I’ll admit it, because Meg bores me with her stability and calm, but that’s what my life and its inhabitants need right now and so Meg shall I remain for a while longer. I feel a Jo phase coming on though.

4. A weird childhood and adolescence is the recipe for a vibrant adulthood, I think. Some of the most incredible adults I know were tragically weird in their youth. They’re still total weirdos,but it’s an evolved, comfortable, self-assured weirdness and I’m so thankful for them and all their moxy.

5. Sometimes you just need to revisit your old wounds. In revisiting our old wounds, we also remember our old balms. I’m going to watch Little Women tonight. I’ll cry like a baby for approximately 87.4% of it. When Beth dies, I’ll have to pause it, hug the dog, and sob for a little while. Then I’ll hit play again and watch as life goes on.

Because it most assuredly does.

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  1. The movie I watched over and over again as a kid was Beetlejuice.

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