The Cool Table

alicecardsHas anyone else ever been a child?  Were you popular?  You know, like a cheerleader, or a jock, or something like that?  If so, go away.  Oh, I’m just kidding, I guess you can stay.  Though what I’m about to say might totally blow your mind.  Also, it’s probably longer than an episode of Bachelor Pad, so you’ve been warned.

You see, popular people, there are a lot of us who were not popular.  In fact, some of us were the opposite of popular.  I had a friend like that.  She wore her Girl Scout uniform to high school and talked about one of her favorite shows, which was Star Trek, rather incessantly.  It just so happened that this was one of my favorite shows too (I’m talking Star Trek the Next Generation.  The one that had Commander Riker.  I don’t care if you like Sci-Fi or not, he made it worth it.)


This guy. Am I right?

Wait, where was I?  Sorry, I do that a lot.  They call it ADD, I think, except once they gave me a med for that, and I was up for like two days straight.  And by up, I mean my eyes did not close.  For two days.  That was some whack stuff.  And they’ve had trouble with people abusing it so they can get stuff done.  The only thing I got done was listen to my heart try to beat out of my chest.

There I go again.  Anyway, this nerdy friend was the polar opposite of popular, and being the true friend that I was, I tried to distance myself from her.  This was because I was a jerk.  I knew I would never fit in with the outgoing kids who somehow magically knew the right stuff to wear and the right way to do their hair.  They could make those fountain bangs just right.  And their blue eyeshadow was the bomb.  Also, they knew what was trendy, or they made it trendy.  Stuff like legwarmers, and scrunchy socks, and tunic tops, and those stupid stirrup pants that fit no one tall ever, and, of course, inside-out off-the- shoulder tops and jeans that were pre worn out for your convenience.  I wore stuff from Wal-Mart.  And glasses that covered my entire face.  That was the look of the 80s.  Cover your entire face.  So I didn’t wear my glasses most of the time.  Which meant I didn’t see, but this was high school, so I don’t think I missed that much.  My point – I’m getting to it, okay? – is that while I knew I wouldn’t be one of them, I knew how not to be hated either.  You disappeared.

That’s what I wanted to do as a child.  My mother says I was a happy kid, but in typical depressive style, I remember angst.  She must have seen some of that, because she allowed me to become a latchkey kid at nine just so I’d shut the hell up about this or that friend hating me at the daycare center.  And they did.  Man, little girls are not sugar and spice.  Unless you like poison with your sugar.  All I knew was that one day some girl – and I always had a bestie friend, because this was an awesome way to put every egg in one precarious basket – would shut me out.  One day BFF just hated me.  Sometimes there was no a reason why.  So there I was, baffled and shut out.  Other times helpful “friends” let me know what I was doing wrong.  One told me “The reason people hate you is because you cry.  Like you’re doing right now.”  Yeah, thanks for that, friend.  You know why people hate you?  Because you’re a freaking bitch.  But I didn’t say that, because 30 something Alice couldn’t speak to little Alice.

Bullies were prevalent.  One of the worst was a girl I’d called my bestie for a few years.  We held hands and skipped together.  Then she found another bestie.  And they teased me.  I told the teacher.  She said, “Stop tattling.”  Note to all teachers.  Don’t say that.  You know why?  Because you’re being a bitch.  Try something new.  Listen to the kid.  Investigate.  Maybe she is a little whiner, but then again, maybe she’s on to something.  In other words, get off your butt and do your damn job, which is more than educating kids.  It’s humanizing the little monsters.

I learned to cope, though.  People made fun of my smile, so I didn’t smile.  They made fun of my laugh, so I tried not to laugh.  In fact, I didn’t look up if at all possible.  I disappeared.  And I did it so effectively that by high school, when I was third in my class, no one knew who I was.  They had no idea because I wasn’t in honors class with them.  I didn’t have the confidence for honors classes, even though I made straight As.  Oh, and okay, the History teacher was freaking cute.  But mostly it was the low confidence thing.

But I was determined to make the grade, because that was something I could do.  I couldn’t be popular, but I could work my behind off and get good grades.  And I did.  I graduated fifth in a class of about 170.  Which was awesome cause smart is so valued in school, right?  That’s why they have pep rallies for the chess club.  No, smart isn’t valued.  Beauty is valued.  Athleticism is valued.  Smart is not.  But at least I could be smart.  That was something I could do.  So I clung to it. 

So I guess you’re thinking I was a major troll right?  Not really.  I’m not unattractive.  Do you know how hard it is for me to say that?  To say that I’m not ugly?  Nevermind saying I’m pretty.  But the first time it occurred to me that I was attactive happened when a boy told me I was beautiful.  I was twenty.  My friend – the nerdy Girl Scout – said “I could have told you that.  But I guess I didn’t have enough testosterone.”  Exactly. 

I met this boy on a trip to see said friend, where, you’ll never believe this, but I kind of acted like a jerk again.  We met and it was literally the guy walking across the crowded room.  OMG this is FATE and I am being repaid for all that HELL that is high school at last!  This is redemption!  I have a hot guy, and he thinks I’m hot!  This is the MEANING OF LIFE.  To say I was slightly high would be an understatement.  I shot up higher than any morphine trip on “love”.  Because this was true love, guys, and not just two people who happened to have the hots for each other.

Okay, so it was.  But at the time, I didn’t know that.  And when the relationship crashed and burned, I hit rock bottom.  How dare GOD or whatever the hell was up there – Mother Nature, sprites, leprechauns, whatever.  Man I was seriously pissed.  I had just been screwed.  At twenty, I would never, ever find another man ever.  I’d had my one chance and it was over and so was my life and – yes, I realize the irony.  At the moment, on my personal blog, I am dissing the hell out of Ana Steele, the dim witted heroine of 50 Shades of Suck, er Grey who thinks her life begins and ends with a total asshole who happens to be attractive.  Why do smart women do this to themselves?

I think the answer lies back with all the paragraphs up till now.  What is valued?  Not brains.  Not sensitivity.  The outgoing, active, loud, people person – the cheerleaders and the jocks of society.  Outward beauty, what can be seen and touched, that’s what gets you noticed.  That’s what gets you at the cool table.

And it doesn’t really change when you’re an adult, either.  There are studies (which I am too lazy to look up right now) that say that beautiful, extroverted people tend to get the better jobs, and the promotions.  They are more often presumed innocent in a court of law.  We are so often judged by appearance.  When you become a parent, there’s a new cool table.  When you get a job, there’s another table.  No matter where you go, there’s that damned cool table.  And you’re not on it.

Recently, I’ve found a new cool table.  It is the Internet.  On the Internet, the introvert can shine.  On the Internet, you are judged on your words, not your appearance, because hey, sure, you can put your picture up there.  But no really knows for sure if that’s your real picture.  I can assure you, though, mine is real.  I really am a blond girl with a blue dress and a bitchin’ white pinafore.  I’m a little taller, though, give or take.  It kind of depends on my diet.

Yeah, I’m full of crap.  I’m too cowardly to reveal myself.  At least not yet.  But even with the outward appearance removed, I still desperately, desperately want on that cool table.  And I’ve found another one.  It’s the blogosphere, people, specifically, WordPress.  Yeah, yeah, I see you, Freshly Pressed people, with your fresh pressedness.  A couple of months ago, I had no idea what that was.  Now, hell yes, I’d like it.  But honestly, that’s not what I want most.  What I want most is what I am, slowly, discovering.  I want to be part of the community of bloggers.  They congregate, like groups hanging around other like groups.  Humorous, brilliant, amazing people.  And you find them by reading their blogs, and looking at other people who comment on their blogs.  And you put yourself out there, just a little bit.  And you shamelessly self-promote, just a little bit.

And if you’re lucky, you meet that blogger, or bloggers, who have made it to the cool table.  Unlike high school, many of them are willing to help you get there too.  A couple have helped me more than I can say – I won’t embarrass them or anything, but one is a Canadian clown and the other one speaks to puppets and stuffed rabbits.  And one started this amazing blog and let me write for it.  That is all you are getting out of me.  These people are at the cool table.  And if you put yourself out there, just a little bit, they’ll let you come too.  Because here they appreciate sensitive.  They appreciate funny.  They appreciate smart.  They appreciate YOU.

And you know what else?  If people on the Internet can appreciate you, so can people out in the real world.  I’ve experimented with this.  It turns out, if I’m myself, people still like me.  Get this, all you closet nerds.  There are lots of other nerds, and they don’t care that they’re nerds.  In fact, they are nerdy and proud.  Who knew?  Anyway, I’m taking my baby steps.  I wear my glasses now (ones that don’t cover my face, thank you 2012 styles) and I look up.  It turns out, there’s more to see than I realized.

© Alice and A Canvas Of The Minds 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alice and A Canvas Of The Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


56 thoughts on “The Cool Table

  1. Great post!
    Back in high school I was sort of a bully, I’ve been doing track forever and that gets you noticed, however, now that I’m older I look back and realize that I would bully so I wouldn’t get bullied. Because of my father’s job we moved around quite often, I was the new guy, and I had to find my way in the little circle. I was not vicious, far from that, but I would bug people. That being said, I never made it to the cool table, mainly because they were usually the people I would bully, together they are freaking amazing and cool, get in alone or in pairs they are nothing. So I was never in the cool table lol.

    • Oh, I bullied sometimes as well, justifying it with the whole “well I was bullied.” Yeah, that made it right. Growing up is like making it through a big toxic wasteland at times. But then we get to be adults and become blog buddies.

  2. Thanks for writing this, I am the opposite of popular and I’m quite new here but I like how the community of bloggers is.
    I still love that Star Trek.

  3. This was a great post. I could relate to so much in here, especially the part about avoiding scorn by disappearing. For what it is worth, I think you are super duper cool. I’d rather be at a blogging cool table than any other kind.

  4. I can relate to your disappearing act. I was such an invisible kid that as adults my sibs would ask me where I was when such and such happened, and when I told them I had been present they were shocked. People didn’t see me, either family or friends. I didn’t get bullied any more, but I didn’t date and didn’t go to prom.

  5. I love this post so very much. Like as in, even though I had a sneak peek, I still read through every word with excitement, emotion, and laughter. Okay, every word didn’t make me laugh, but that’s just because I’m not a jerk and don’t laugh at other people’s sad stories.

    And look, your Alice is there in your little box!

    • Yes, there she is! So glad Alice is no longer PG though maybe some kids should have parental guidance. Wonderland is kind of intense.

      Thank you so much, Ruby. You have a talent for making others feel awesome. 😀

      • LOL, Wonderland can be!

        And while I may be able to see or say (you know, See’n Say) the right thing, I don’t ever make someone feel like something they aren’t already. And you, my friend, are awesome-sauce!

  6. That was awesome Alice 😀 I never thought I’d be part of the “cool table”, but actually I don’t think it matters. I like this table very much and in my opinon it is awesome, which is way better than cool. xox

  7. Hey, great writing! You definitely belong at the Cool Table. You do know what you’re getting yourself into, writing for Canvas, I hope? YES, you win the Kewpie Doll! You’re part of one of the most amazing group of intelligent, cut-to-the-chase-sharp writers in the blogosphere, if I may be so bold, and I AM so bold, as to say so. Welcome, from me.

    • Kewpie doll? Wow, I thought it couldn’t get better than gold unicorn badges (part of the clown insanity in case you’re wondering.) Is there a Kewpie doll badge? I’ve been collecting those lately, and that sounds somewhat creepy, but also very cool.

      There are some incredible writers on here. And look at all the letters after your name! Neat. I could go by this: Alice, BA, MA, MLS but no one would care. MD is more impressive, but I’m not sure what FAAP stands for. I could make some guesses, but they involve various animal names and nonsense words. I’m not sure where this comment is going. Thanks for the welcome!

      • You left out the part where I wore my Space Camp flight suit to school. I don’t actually remember wearing my scout uniform. Or that I skipped 8th grade. Or that I…
        Great post. Which strategy is better? Geek rebellion, or invisibility? Anyway, thanks to you I was never friendless in high school. Or junior high. Or my entire adult life. I’ve been reading your writing and telling you how great it is since middle school, and I’m so glad and proud of you for stepping out there and sharing your voice and your talent!

        • Aw, I’m so glad you liked it. I wondered about mentioning you, but how could I not in talking about high school? I did admire how you could stick to your guns and like what you wanted no matter what the others said. It got to where I didn’t even know what I liked I tried so hard to fit in and really it didn’t matter anyway.

          I forgot about the Space Camp flight suit, lol. I’m glad we’ve been friends so long as well, and that you are my first and best reader. And here you are going to law school now, so yeah, I’m pretty damn proud of you as well.

          And isn’t that a great pic of Riker? 😀

          • That pic of Riker is awesome. He definitely won the prize for “best sporting of a beard by a Star Trek XO.” Though mirror-verse Spock wasn’t too bad. Come to think of it, none of the others could grow one.

            I was some combination of oblivious and stubborn in high school. I also recognized stupidity when I saw it, in teachers as well as peers. And the history teacher may have been good looking, but he wasn’t much of a teacher.

      • MLS?!? Just further evidence of AWESOME! (yes, I too have an ALA-accredited masters, and so does Mr. Chickadee).

        Bravo on a brilliant debut post! I don’t typically read posts this long word-for-word, but you got me. Totally. Glad to have you at the Canvas Cool Table™.

  8. This made me want to stand up and applaud (watching a bit too much xfactor tonight though….as usually it would just be a smiley face lol) So well put and I’m so happy you’ve come to this realisation! I’m a nerd, a geek and proud 😛 I say it loud and say it proud! I studied my arse off, I’ve forgotten more about the nervous system than most people will ever want to know lol and love watching sci fi on TV. Oh this was a great post to read this evening, thank you 🙂 xx

    • Applauding is always acceptable. I worked at this library years ago, and one of my coworkers was making a list of what should be improved. One of my other coworkers wrote on his list “Everyone applauds when I enter a room.” I like that idea. Very cool. Lol.

      Sci-fi is also cool, and it’s nice to be able to admit it now. I work with geeks, and while they sometimes make me want to scream, I get to be myself. We have themed birthday parties. The last one was the theme of pirate. Yes, we are all adults.

      I’m glad you liked reading my post, and that I didn’t get an X.

      • haha brilliant suggestion! Would certainly make everyone feel a little more appreciated though how well it would have gone down in a library I’m not sure :S
        I realised that I could be ‘cool’ or at least accepted for the things I like when I moved to college and found groups that felt the same as me…I suddenly accepted myself! though as I change work places I find what you said to be true about all the different groups through every walk of life to be annoyingly right and where I am at the moment….they’re all so different from me I’m back to being the weird geek again lol still proud but harder to make others understand!
        Oooh our parties are always weird, the last moving in party was themed as ‘TV characters from your childhood’ and there were some amazing costumes! hehe

        • We had a zombie party once. Occasionally I suggest the theme of “birthday party” but no one listens. I also have to learn not to be a smartass at meetings because they take my suggestions seriously. That’s why we had a team in the chili cookoff called “Hot Spicy Librarians”.

  9. Back in high school, I was something of a cult leader. Yes, I was the Queen of the Misfits. And we held a social circle we called, “The Anti-Circle”. I know what you’re thinking, but we were nowhere near as exclusive as “The Popular Table”. It was open to pretty much freak, geek, and creep there was. With some exceptions, but that’s my Friday Confessional. I don’t want to give too much away.

    For me, it was a show. I didn’t feel as powerful as I looked. I defied every rule I could manage. I drew attention to myself and somehow became an icon for the freedom of self-expression and the pride in doing it. By my senior year, it actually caught on the to popular kids. And surprisingly enough, the social workings of that school have never quite been the same.

    I was happy to hear it. But, in a partial truth, that’s not why I did it. I did it as a shock factor. As an act of defiance against societal rules and challenging their norms. I wanted to be a freak, and not just a freak, but the Queen of Freaks. And I was.

    At least something positive came out of it.

    Now, here’s where adult life comes in. When I left high school and went to college, I left it all behind. The freak persona, and the cult leader that went with it. Instead, my aim was to get in with the most influential people. And do you know what? I did. I didn’t even have to fake anything. I was friends with almost everyone that mattered in the IT department. I had preference in beta projects. I got special treatment from teachers and supervisors. And it was fantastic. I was the cool kid there.

    This is where real life comes in. That’s when I got smacked in the face. It didn’t occur to me immediately, but after a few times being taken down, I got the message loud and clear. I was still a freak, except now I was a geek too. That’s why I did so well in college. That was what my college was made up of!

    I’ll never be a part of “The Cool Table”. I never was. I can’t conform to social norms, and I feel the need to challenge the status quo. I always did. And that’s fine. Because out here in the real world, i can be even more cool than cool by just being myself. I ditched the persona a long time ago. I’m not a cult leader. I’m no pioneering geek. I’m not a goth. I’m me.

    • Friday confessional, huh? What is that? Wait, it might be explained above. Anyway, yes, I totally get all of what you said. The first time I experienced popularity was when I worked at my first really professional job. I was so young, but I was popular with my male coworkers which I thought was cool until I got fired. That’s a much longer story, though.

      I kind of had a misfit table, too, but we didn’t catch on to anything. I also find myself constantly questioning the status quo, too, having different opinions on many popular topics like religion, politics, etc. I look forward to your confessional. You can then come over to my site and find out your totally made up horoscope for the week that just passed.

      • Let’s just say this week’s Friday Confessional is going to involve a select few people that were just too “weird” to be part of the “weirdo club”.

        When I got my first professional job, it was like high school all over again. There were so many young, pretty girls my age. And I was just then coming out of my awkward phases. Yes, late bloomer right here. I went against my nature and tried to change who I was to fit in. I figured it was my chance to finally reinvent myself.

        The facts were these. I was not big on clubbing. I didn’t like to frequent happy hours with my co-workers. I was a young woman about to get married. And truthfully, I think it made some of the other women jealous.

        A friend of mine said to me a couple of days ago, “You’re the exception to the rule. Who actually meets the man they will eventually marry in their teens and actually marries him in their early 20’s?” Point taken. That is when I started to realize that I’m the exception to a lot of rules, just based on my disorder alone.

        I was in a lot of clubs, so people collecting wasn’t difficult. Eventually, I took over several music courses, a German club, and a stage crew. It wasn’t a hostile takeover. Somehow, word got around about it. Years later, when I was in my real life, a senior in high school approached me and asked, “Are you Lulu?” I was stunned. How the …? The young girl smiled and said, “You know, you’re a legend at our school.” I graduated four years ago!

        • How cool is that? I met my husband a year after the “I will never have a man again” incident and we got married when I was 22, so I get that. The others in my grad program at the time were all “good ol boys” who’d hang out and drink and golf and drink. The first year I got married, and the second year I had a baby. Yup, I totally fit in. 😀

          • I reunited with my husband as friends after a couple month period where we weren’t allowed to talk. His girlfriend and all, she had always seen something between us that we never quite saw. I guess it was pretty obvious to others, though my husband and I were rather clueless.

            In that time period, I was in the middle of a long, mutually abusive relationship. I really didn’t hide it from my now husband. I had never hid anything from him before, and I wasn’t about to start then.

            My husband had a huge fight with his stepdad, which resulted in him throwing his house keys at him and storming out. He called me from another friend’s house and asked if he could crash for awhile. Of course! Well, once he caught the actual wind of what was happening there, and the complete disdain I had for my boyfriend, my husband made it his business to kick the guy out.

            He did. Several days later, we were together. That’s a whole other story for another time. He proposed a couple of months later and we were married seven months after that. In the meantime, just after I got my dress fitted, I got pregnant. We were trying, but we didn’t think it would happen so soon. So, six months after the wedding, we had our son.

            Talk about a fast-forward kind of romance. But why waste time courting? We had clearly already been doing that for the first five years we had known each other!

  10. Wonderful post.

    I was a sensitive kid, and once someone told me that people didn’t like me because I cried so much. So you’re not alone there.

    The Internet is the only place I can be amongst cool people also. I’m quite unattractive and nondescript in real life. I used to be careless about my appearance, too, such as the clothes I wear and such. Not that I’m a fashionista or anything now, but I do more than throw on a ratty T-shirt and jeans.

    Then again, I also went to a weird high school. Everyone there probably wouldn’t have done to well at a normal school. It was like the school district high school for nerds, ha. Not that there weren’t cliques and such there . . . but we lacked things such as, say, a football team and cheerleaders.

    • Isn’t it great when people are helpful like that? You suck! Hey, why are you crying? Stop crying you freak! Future psychologists right there.

      No football team or cheerleaders? I’m trying to imagine that. A school without sports as its main focus? What did they do there, like, teach or something? Bizarre.

      At the moment I have two pairs of work pants that fit properly and don’t have stains on them. And a few tops that I mix up – sometimes I wear this one on Monday and then the next week I like wear it on Tuesday. I’m hoping to lose some weight before I buy new clothes. I’m also hoping I can do so through wishful thinking.

      Thanks for your kind words.

      • You know what was different and kind of cool about my school? Our football team was horrible, and our cheerleaders were not attractive, so most people came out to see our 100 member showband. The “hot” girls were all on the dance squad, an extension of the showband. Being in band was the closest anyone could be to being popular on a football field.

        The popular kids were actually either the ones who had money and lived in the upper class neighborhoods, or the ones in the gifted / advanced classes. Somehow, the jocks became jokes and the smartest kids were hailed. Oh, and the ones in drama club. We had award winning musicals.

  11. GO RIKER!!!
    Having said that, I must add that I love this post. You have put words to many of the thoughts and feelings I had as a teenager. Most of the time I didn’t even try to fit in, because it felt hopeless. And why should I fit in anyway?
    Still, I wanted to belong, but I hated myself for wanting to belong and for caring what they thought of me. I decided that if I were going to be an outcast anyway, it might as well be by my own choice.
    Thanks for sharing your insight here.

    • Thanks for your response! It has taken me too long to embrace my inner geek, but I’m getting there. I wish there were a way to let high schoolers know that it’s a different world than that microcosm they are in right now. I mean, sure, there are still cool tables and whatnot, but there are more choices.

      And yeah, Riker was totally hot. And that charm!

          • I have to make time to stare at my closet before picking the exact same crap I always wear. I’m down to two pairs of pants that aren’t stained or too small. And only a couple of shirts. Maybe I should do something about that. Shopping? Dressing rooms? I just gave myself a panic attack.

            I think we could work in a whole post about the trauma of malls.

  12. I guess I’ve always been very lucky. While I was NEVER the cool kid. I never care about it. Or was too out of it that didn’t notice. Honest to Ceiling Cat. I know everybody says that but I do really mean it.

    I had a grand time reading physics, astronomy and science fiction & fantasy books. And since I wasn’t interested in boys, I never learn about rejection. In a way, you could say my childhood and teen years were blissfully oblivious to awkwardness.

  13. Congrats for making it to the cool table. You give all us shy, unassuming misfits hope! Just don’t forget us when we come with our pathetic lunch trays in hand looking for a seat somewhere in the corner of the table.

  14. I love this blog, it was so well written, funny and damn accurate, the cool table is where you make it Alice, and beauty mate is skin deep yet somehow the cliché ugly to the bone is sticking in my throat, You have a fantastic flare and style about you, which is one thing that those cool chicks back in the day never had and will never have, that is something you hold and will always hold about you, your blog literally had me laughing at the screen, to the point, of tears in some parts, where i had to wipe my face, (must of looked like a royal cracker), but like most cracker’s I have no care factor for how it seemed to those watching me laughing at the computer screen sitting in my corner minding my own business 😉 well written girl……….thank you for that giggle at a very real and serious underlying message within your words, ((hugs))

    • Thank you so much for your words! Sorry I’m just now finding this comment. You are so right – we might have been slow bloomers, but what we bloggers have is lasting power. I remember an interview with Billy Joel. He said he went to a reunion, and the big head football guy hadn’t accomplished a thing, while he, despite being a short guy with kermit like eyes had become a major star because of his musical genius. He asked the football guy what happened. “I peaked too soon,” he said.

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