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.


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.

Follow on Bloglovin

Proof that I have matured….

So, I was at the grocery this morning. I am aware that nearly all of my recent posts have involved the grocery in some form or another, but that’s where I’m at in life.

Anyway, I was unloading bags from my cart and loading cold items into coolers because, yes, I am just that Type A. A young man in an old Bronco sped down the parking lot aisle. He was blaring some godawful screamer “rock” music as loud as those speakers could possibly go. Base turned up high. Windows rolled all the way down.

I was visibly annoyed, of this I have no doubt, and I knew what he’d be wearing before he even got out of the car.

Combat boots.

Ripped Jeans.

No visible eyes due to full-on hair shag.

Wallet chain.


I thought to myself, “Ugh. Youths.”


Or, alternately,

Then, all of a sudden, it hit me.

Adult me wants to give that young man a haircut and teach him something about good music.

Teenage me would have actively tried to make out with him.

Take that, every high school teacher who said I’d never grow up.

“Your baby is so, so, so….. what a nice outfit!”

Departing from my usual Senior Day tradition, I went to the grocery this morning. Next to the frozen peas I saw the ugliest baby I have ever seen in my entire life. I mean, the sweet child required a double take to make sure that he was, in fact, a baby human. Bafflingly, the woman pushing him in the buggy was, without a doubt, the most beautiful woman I have ever seen… in this part of the country.

Before you mothers or other sensitive souls jump all over my case for this, let’s get something straight.

I’m sure the baby has a wonderful personality.

I kid, I kid. Nowhere in that little anecdote did I say that I was a peach, especially not this morning. I was wearing my early-morning grocery uniform of yoga pants and a long-sleeved tee. Normal enough, you might say, but it wasn’t until I looked in my rearview while backing out of my parking space to come home that I noticed that I had toothpaste foam dried to the side of my cheek.

And all over the front of my shirt.

It’s fine. I have no room to judge.

Though this child looked frighteningly like, well, the baby from Dinosaurs, I am certain beyond the pale that this baby will grow up to be a studmuffin of the highest order, complete with a full head of hair and all of his natural teeth, both well into adulthood.

My mama read The Ugly Duckling to me. I know how this works.

There does seem to be a pattern, however. I was an adorable baby. I can say it. It’s science. But then I went through what averaged out to be a 16 year-long awkward phase wherein I vacillated between looking like a tiny, tiny Rosie O’Donnell or the goth version of a character from Fraggle Rock. I came out of it, I suppose, but Carter didn’t know what I looked like throughout my childhood until we were married.

Hook ’em. Reel ’em in. Throw ’em in the live well from which there is no escape. Then show them the pictures of you looking like, well, like this:

Yea, call me the Dowager Lady Shawn Hunter, Teen Heartthrob. As a matter of fact, put that on my business cards. (“But I’m a girl! I’m a girl! So what if I have a bowl cut and like plaid! I need love, too!”)

I’m over it. I promise. Well, I’m trying to be. The T-Boz haircut, on the other hand? *shudder*

We take for granted, however, that all babies will be adorable, simply because they are babies. You can blame the kittens and puppies of the world for screwing them over like this. No, really – they’ve screwed up the curve.

The ugly baby is a real thing. Even in the celebrity biodome, ugly babies can be found. This story about Emily Blunt (wife of “Jim, from The Office,” as my husband knows him) made me laugh out loud at the same time it made me thankful that I speak Southern.

“I remember when we were in the recovery room … and this nurse came in – her name was Mabel, another great old lady name. She had this fantastic, crazy weave and she said, ‘Damn, your baby is so cute!’ And I went, ‘Oh, thank you,” Blunt, 31, recalls.

“She went, ‘Damn, she’s awesome, she’s so cute.’ And I went, ‘Mabel, I think you say that to everyone,’ and she went, ‘No, I don’t … when I know a baby’s ugly, I say, “You had a baby!”‘ I was like, ‘Those poor parents must know.’” [People Magazine]

“You had a baby!”

That right there, friends, is why I’m so glad to be fluent in Southern. For instance, if I have an ugly baby and someone says, “How precious!,” I’m gonna slap them right in the mouth, blaming the hormones all the way.

The same holds true for the following: “What an adorable little outfit!”,  “Have you figured out who it looks more like?”, “What a face!”, and, of course, “You had a baby!”

Slaps. Slaps for all of them.

I may or may not have gone home and immediately told my mother that I saw the ugliest baby in the world at the store. I also may or may not have told my husband, sister, and best friend about it, too. But I did save a bird’s nest and promised God I’d do more volunteering. Because Karma. (I’m honest, not stupid.)

But I would never, ever, ever breathe a word about it to that sweet mama. Tact matters, my friends. I am a lady, after all.

Though I am not, it seems, enough of a lady to refrain from writing about this on this blog. In case you or the Karma Police come after me, however, let me remind you that I predicted that this child’s ugly babyhood is just a phase and that he will grow up to be a modern Robert Redford while I, for my sins, will likely grow a fantastic mustache.

My mama read the Ugly Duckling to me. I know how it ended:

And then, the ugly duckling grew into a beautiful, majestic swan. She moved to Quebec with a handsome Canadian Goose and, together, they ruled the city’s largest pond with grace and fairness all their days.

As for the ducks who taunted the ugly ducking, they grew embarrassing amounts of lady facial hair and, despite their best efforts to make lemons into lemonade, were denied entry into the county fair’s fantastic mustache competition.

And that, sweet children, is why you should never bully.