1.04.2012

wardrobe malfunction

i have an internet friend whom i really like a lot.

okay, so i love her. there, i said it. i actually met found (like a collector!) her through another of my hardcore lady-blogger crushes whom i found through a link on CNN!

if you're keeping score at home, this makes me a 3rd degree black belt in interwebbius freakstalkitude (one degree for making a friend through CNN, one more for poaching a friend off of her and then the final one for considering becoming a missionary, not because i felt called, but just to hang out with them in haiti. aaaaaand, scene).

she introduced me to chuy's creamy jalepeno dip and penned the most beautiful sentence i have ever read (about her hands' reaction to jalepeno oils leftover from cooking): "it felt like i dipped my hand in lava...like i had fondled the sun."

and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you make me love you.

it also doesnt hurt that she writes about jesus in a way that makes my prose look like something i fished out of layla's diaper. she is farking hilarious, authentic, inspiring, and passionate. and even though she is a mother of 4, she rocks one of those neon pink chicken head feather things (which i am so far from understanding that i just know it means she is cool).

anyhooooo, heather has just had some crazy changes go down in her family's life. while jesus is all up in this part of their story, it's still hard and sucky at times. she jokingly requested that i make her laugh daily for the next month. i intend to try.

so while i was thinking up a good laugh-inducer to start her month off with, i realized that this was a good story to share with the world because it makes me look completely stupid and awesome. here we go.

the year: 1997. the scene: my private high school. me: freshly turned 14 years old, in 9th grade and still violently prepubescent.

we wore uniforms at my school. all day every day: plaid or gray skirts and oxford shirts.

but 2 or 3 magical times a year we had OUT OF UNIFORM DAYS. these were a big deal. there was maybe one scheduled annually for no reason, but usually you had to donate a certain amount of money to some club or to the planet earth to be able to wear normal human clothes for a day. it was bald extortion, but we didnt care. we would have sold our own mothers to be able to wear jeans with our peers for 8 precious daylight weekday hours!

looking back, i can see why they were so rare. it was barely controlled pandemonium on out of uniform days. something about those uniforms must have kept us in a hive-mind trance of blind obedience, and when we got out of them (untucked shirttails! white socks! undershirts with writing!) we had semesters of wild defiance and rule-breaking to make up for. nothing got done on out of uniform days.

for a teenage girl, you had to be prepared. you'd better believe that my out of uniform day outfits were planned ahead of time and laid out in a perfect paper-doll like arrangement on my floor the night before. it seriously looked like i had gotten dressed, laid down spread-eagle on my back and then gotten raptured straight on to glory right out of my clothing, leaving my outfit in the exact formation that it would be in on a human, albeit deflated.

now i went to this private school only because my parents both worked there. they met while teaching there and got married at in the school chapel and both still work there. because of that, my brother and i got free admission from PK through graduation. one year of tuition to my high school costs more than an entire in-state college education plus room and board would cost for all 4 years.

i say this to emphasize that lots of my female peers were probably more financially equipped to really impress the masses on out of uniform days. they owned tons of clothes and all in the really cool brands.

me, not so much. i just didnt have a lot of street clothes. when i wasnt in uniform at school, i was in play clothes, sports attire or pj's. i really couldnt have cared less about fashion. but on out of uniform days, something changed in me. it was my red carpet and i needed to bring the populace to its knees in awe.

i would envision for myself a transformation akin to every teen movie where the "ugly" girl takes off her glasses, lets her ponytail down and is suddenly smoking hot. somehow, if i just got out of my navy uniform socks and shoes and into the right "makeover" outfit, the stars would align for me.

i kid you not: i would try on my out of uniform day outfits and practice slow-motion walking around the corner of my bathroom while shaking my hair as if it were blowing in the wind, just to get a picture of what it would be like the day all the boys jaws dropped. my own personal movie montage.

never mind that i was flat as a board, 5 foot nothing, and still looked like a 7 year old at this point.

i never had a chance: i started school a year early, so i was already behind physically, and then it turned out that i was a late bloomer AND being insanely active year-round probably staved off puberty for a few extra years as well.

i had learned this hard lesson 2 years prior, back in 7th grade. while under complete dominion of the testosterone tsunami that is so charming during the male formative years, the boys were all suddenly losing their minds over any girl with a b-cup or higher, and i had NOTHING, not even zits to herald the onset of womanhood. i was more likely to get diaper rash than my period.

while moxie, spunk and a precocious vocabulary may be timelessly charming to eunuchs, they dont hold much water for an adolescent boy when compared to a developed girl bouncing by in a skirt that was certainly not handbook-regulation length.

me as a teenager, in 8th grade, just a few months before high school. that gap in my teeth was from a baby tooth recently falling out. it is understandable why the guys wouldnt be drooling over me as a buxom hottie. it almost looks as if i have achieved negative boob space. ladies, and gentlemen, i have discovered antimatter.

by the time i finally flowered (please tell me you are cringing over that usage) and got my boobs (and 7 extra inches of height), it was 11th grade, and the mammary-craze was over (or at least dwindled...these are boys we're talking about). the fact that i missed the boat on that trend actually worked out well from a purity standpoint, but try telling that to teen-angst keight who just wanted to inspire one measly erection.

so in 9th grade, a few months prior to this fateful out of uniform day, i found the perfect shoes in a catalog. these were going to show what a super hot, cool, badass babe i was. i begged my mom to order them for me. i probably traded in my birthday and christmas gifts to ransom these boots for myself.

my first indication that i was on the wrong track should have been that this was an L.L. Bean catalog that i was shopping in. i think the only people turned on by chicks in L.L. Bean gear are hippies, Coloradoans and lesbians. all well and good, but not precisely my target demographic.

but i was blissfully ignorant at this point. while i waited for the mail to deliver my payload of teenage social domination, i meticulously crafted the rest of my outfit.

since my boots were sporty and outdoorsy, i kept with that theme. i found some olive green colored cargo pants in the back of my closet that my poor mother must have bought me at some point, and paired with them an AWESOME simple black fleece vest that was trimmed with white reflective material, like safety equipment, or road signs. it was a few sizes too small for me, and i told myself that it would give me some cleavage because of this. underneath the vest, i went with the classic sex symbol: the plain white turtleneck, which, incidentally, was approved as part of the school uniform in the colder months. score!

now, this post is about how stupid i am, but i will stand by the clothes of the outfit, come hell or high water.

the cargoes were close-fitting and not baggy. even the pockets didnt stick out--they were for fashion NOT for freight. the vest had a permanently popped collar which gave me a confident air and its reflective accents made sure that i was noticed, even in the foggiest of conditions. the white turtleneck is neither here nor there, but trust me, it worked. i opted for a high ponytail to complete the styling. (makeup and accessories were not "things i knew about" at this stage in my life).

finally the boots arrived. the box was HUGE and much heavier than i had expected. no matter. i tore right in. they were perfect! from their huge rounded, chunky toes, to their badass laces and ratchet clasps (that should have been my second hint that i was barking up the wrong fashion tree).

i tried them on. they were kind of hard to walk in, but i figured it was like i had always heard about high heels: you have to get used to walking in them, and once you do, you are totally hot. same idea.

the sensation of wearing shoes like this was somehow familiar but i couldnt place where i had felt it before.

i had to re-choreograph my bombshell strut due to the new gait that my boots forced me into. instead of shimmy, saunter, sway and knock the boys dead, it was now, more of clunk, stutter, boom. but i was nothing if not confident that these were my magic sex boots of destiny, and after the fit i had pitched to possess these treasures, i couldnt even contemplate that something might be amiss.

i lay in bed the night before the big day and listened to my matthew sweet CD. i had chosen one of his deep tracks as the theme music for my victory, the song was super baby. it was perfect, and in my head i was all the shimmery teenage perfection of a nubile young noxema model.

as i listened, the scene of myself at school the next day unfolded in my mind. i was walking down the hall to this song (somehow it would be broadcast over the intercom system at just the right moment, i knew) and the boys were losing their minds. some passed out, some stared blankly, knowing they would never be the same, and some embarrassingly used their textbooks to hide the involuntary, unstoppable pants-situations that just the sight of me was causing.

the long-awaited day arrived. i got dressed and headed to the bus. i vaguely remember someone on the bus asking me where i had gotten my boots and if i went snowboarding a lot. i fleeting stab of panic hit me and momentarily furrowed my brow, but i just figured it was because i looked so sporty and outdoorsy hot that they assumed i must be a cool snowboarder chick.

i got to school (for some reason, walking down the stairs off of the bus was really difficult for me) and readied myself for a whole new chapter of my life. keight vincent: commence hottie phase.

it wasnt until after 4th period when i went into the student lounge that i knew it was working. a few upperclassmen guys were obviously checking me out as i walked by. these were the hot guys who werent into team sports but were all about camping and rock climbing and extreme sports stuff. not bad for my first conquests, and naturally they would be the first to fall under the spell of my snow-bunny outfit.

the red flags finally caught up to me and sucker punched me right in the reflective zipper when the hottest of these guys came up to me (me thinking: "here he comes! it's finally happening!!!") and asked..... if i snowboarded.

i was thinking, "what the hell!?! why do people keep asking me that?" i told him that, no, i had been skiing out west 4 or 5 times, but never snowboarding. i was eager to move the conversation forward into more logical topics such as our first date and subsequent marriage.

then he goes, "ok, well, just so you know, those are totally snowboarding boots." and i was like, "well yeah, they are like what you put on after you get done snowboarding and are hanging around the lodge, looking all rosy-cheeked and awesome." he goes, "can you point your toe?" i gave it a whirl, and no, in fact, i could not point my toe. i couldnt move my ankle at all. it was locked in place. and he says, "yeah those are the boots you actually wear and strap into a snowboard with."

then it hits me where i had felt this sensation before: when i was skiing.

the stupid, robotic walk that those plastic-shelled ski boots force you into so that you dont break your ankle while skiing was the exact same way i had been walking around all day: heel-toe, heel-toe, clackity clack.

i saw my boots with new eyes. no wonder they were made by airwalk (the skateboarding/snowboarding gear company). no wonder they weighed about 5 lbs each. no wonder i could stand flat-footed on the ground and lean myself forward, straight as an arrow, to a 45-degree angle without tipping over. no wonder they felt like rollerblades with the wheels removed.
this the the exact model of the shoes i wore that day.

i was walking around my high school, in HOTlanta, georgia, rocking actual snowboarding boots as if i had just finished shredding powder (or, whatever) on the slopes. he couldnt have shocked me more if he had informed me that i was wearing actual skiis.

game over. shut it down. dream sequence ended.

luckily, i wasn't too mortified beyond that first face to face with the guy who told me what i actually had on my feet. though physically under-developed at this point, i was fairly socially agile and confident in my position as the funny chick who was friends with everyone. i knew i wouldnt be ostracized for this gaffe, but it still sucked a bit.

i got through the rest of the day by making fun of myself before anyone else could beat me to the punch, but i boiled with embarrassment on the inside every time i remembered how cool and hot i had thought i would be.

my coup had failed, my dreams of becoming a hottie icon had come crashing down all around me (luckily my feet were uninjured thanks to their armor). i regretted buying those boots for a long time after that and every time i saw them in my closet, my face burned with the stupidity of thinking i could ever be that girl in the teen movies.

but, like it always does--even if teenagers cant see it-- the passing of time changed my perspective on this little tale and on myself. for one, i went snowboarding twice after this and got to proudly and loudly tell the ski shop worker, "no boot rental for me! i brought my own."

and for two, i am so thankful that i was a late bloomer; awkward and largely unnoticed in any sexual way by boys when i was a teenager. i had not a clue at that point what i stood for or what my views on sex or dating or marriage were, and i inevitably would have gotten in way over my head for lack of a plan. as it were, i still ended up on the unfortunate side of that timeline in college, when i discovered non-sports bras, mascara and fake ID's, but had still yet to think about what i wanted my story to say and look like.

mostly, i just look back at that out of uniform day and laugh hard at myself. for how dumb i must have looked doing my robot walk from class to class and for the mental picture i simultaneously had about how hard i was rocking at life. ugh, you couldn't pay me to be a teenager again.

super baby, indeed.

20 comments:

  1. hahahaha....this post is amazing. i too have a similar story, albeit not involving snowboarding boots, but equally as humiliating. out of uniform days were such a treat. i planned my outfits with such care and concern. also, amen to being a late bloomer. i remember the Bar/Bat Mitzva season of 1997...the shame i felt in comparison to the other girls. we were on a similar puberty track i think. we turned out alright though, awkward middle school/early high school years aside. i remember always admiring how cool you were...always in the snack bar cracking people up and i was always kind of in awe of that. anyway, hope you are doing well! go war eageles :)

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  2. that was awesome. thank you for sharing your teenage pain. suddenly, i'm glad to have just turned the big 3-0... but also, feel such pity for teenaged girls the world around!

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  3. OK I am DYING laughing at my desk in a office of 9 engineers, all men! Hahahaa I would most certainly pay to see a picture of you that day! What great writing, you paint a hilarious picture!

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  4. make her laugh! love this.

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  5. GREAT story, Keight. Those damn out of uniform days...they were so tough for everyone! :)

    -Abby G

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  6. Ouch... it's totally a mistake I would've made! Or it's something I never would've noticed was wrong...

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  7. I'm laughing so hard I've got tears in my eyes. This is totally something I would have done in HS, and we're the same age so I'm just picturing my 16-year-old junior self doing something like this. I also scrimped and saved every summer with the goal of becoming totally hot before the fall semester started, and I'd practice wearing eyeliner (still can't do it at almost 29) and dogear the pages of magazines with clothes I liked. There are some horrifying pictures of me wearing things I thought were cool (tall, tall toe socks; the popular, chunky white canvas shoes with CURLY CUE SHOELACES, etc.) and I just cringe seeing them. I, unfortunately, was an early bloomer (hello, boobs in elementary school and my period in middle school) and I experienced a lot of pain as a result (and as a result of my own poor choices), but this made me smile in a big way today!

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  8. Geez. My daughter won't quit asking me why I'm laughing :). So funny...definitely no desire to return to teenage years!!

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  9. Man oh man! I have somehow blocked out some of these phrases “undershirts with writing” “street clothes” “handbook-regulation length”. High school was so hard! Although I never wore snow-boarding shoes ( I did love L.L. Bean too, seriously why??) did you know that I wore navy orthopedic nurse shoes from 1st-9th grade?? My dad was convinced I 'needed' them. I never noticed how not cool they were at Busey or even in Middle School. The first week of 9th grade however an upperclassman noticed that there was something off about my shoes
    (maybe his mom was a nurse) and pointed out that I was wearing 'nurse shoes' as I walked by. I was mortified! I felt so bad because they were $100 shoes and brand spanking new but I just couldn't face Upper School in those suckers. My mom bought me penny loafers the next week and we hid them from my dad for as long as possible... I am still haunted by orthopedic shoes :)

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  10. Nothing says hot like hefty boots and white turtlenecks. I bet if there was a future-lumberjack trolling your halls, you accomplished your mission. (and I totally laughed at your LL Bean demographics)

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  11. As a fellow private schooler and late bloomer (except with nothing to blame like starting school early or being super sporty and athletic), this story was hilarious but much to real! We were spared uniforms, but suffered something far worse in the form of Nazi dress codes. Shirts couldn't be lower than a palm's width from your collar bone, skirts no shorter than a dollar bill's width from mid-knee, no jeans or pants with those metal rivets like jeans, shoes with laces had to have socks, you get the picture. So our 'out of uniform' days meant jeans and a school tshirt. But you better believe we treated those like our chance on the runway. We'd try to find the tighest jeans possible that wouldn't get us sent to the office and order tshirts two sizes too small just for such occasions. Even though we were more 'in uniform' on those days then most, we felt so awesome. Oh skewed perspectives of an adolescent. I don't miss those days! Thanks for the laugh! :)

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  12. Loved those out of uniform days too! I planned my outfits so much that most times, I convinced Mom I needed an entirely new outfit. They were days that could "change your life !!!"

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  13. Hahahaha :) Long time blog lurker here, but this is so dead on that I'm coming out to say so! I spent a lot of homerooms and french classes with Keight in high school.

    I can still remember some of the outfits I agonized over for free dress days. You were always so confident and popular though - I never would have guessed that you experienced the trauma/drama of it all too! Back then, I couldn't quite ever figure out how to make my seriously bootylicious hips look ok in jeans, when they were perfectly happy hiding under uniform skirts and track pants 99% of the time.

    @Erin, I totally remember those shoes you wore, and never made the connection to nurse shoes! They were so unique and you were so cool at Busey that I just assumed you were trendsetting :)

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  14. This story is just off the charts amazing. You are literally one of the funniest people on Earth! I am holding in snorts of laughter while trying to put my baby to bed! I was also a uniformed highschooler and cherished free dress days. My go to feminine choice of footwear - Dr. Martins aka Doc Martins. The high ones. Dark brown, not black, for a touch of softness. WTH was I thinking?!?

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  15. Hilarious!!!!! I'm trying not to laugh too loud b/c I have a kid sleeping next to me, but it was hard not to just cackle. I can so relate!

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  16. hehe. Love it.

    Being on the other side of the blooming spectrum, I'm just going to tell you that you didn't miss anything there. I got teased, just in a different, totally innapropriate, manner.

    We, too, had "jean" days at our school. We didn't have uniforms, but had a pretty strict dress code. I do have to sympathize with your plight with the other girls having more money to buy clothes with. My parents re-financed their house that was paid off in order to send us to our private school. It didn't leave a lot of room for things like $80 Abercrombie khakis and sweaters. I almost think it would've been better if we did have uniforms.

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  17. Speaking from another poor girl from the same school, I feel you so hard about those out of uniform days. XD We paid full tuition, which meant I almost never could get new street clothes, so I would panic every time there was an out of uniform day, and once I had such an anxiety attack, I wore my pajamas to school. My homeroom teacher said that was inappropriate and sent me to the bookstore to buy a new uniform.

    Unless they were the days that required you to wear the T-shirt you had to pay for to earn the out of uniform day, I sort of dreaded them. Haha! Oh, those teenage years and the desire to at least fit in, never mind attracting boys! :D

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  18. @milltini, cough it up! blog that story, STAT. yeah, the snack bar was my first comedy gig. i bombed many a night, i assure you.

    @kristawilbur, yes! the whole eyeliner phenomenon terrified and confused me. girls would just be caking that shit on in the bathroom, and looking normal! it defied logic.

    @erin i remember your nurse shoes! but just like maryann i just figured they were part of your hot, cool edgy vibe or something. i was too ignorant to question anything!

    @amanda there is something positively pharisaical about "no rivets." really, guys? cant we just stick to the heart of the law: DONT BE SLUTS!

    @maryann, holy crap, i'm freaking. (aside: world, maryann is the BRILLIANT valedictorian, 1600 SAT'er and 7 months younger than me--making her 16 at graduation i believe--wunderkind of our school. she was also cool as crap and was a huge part of me realizing that the kids in the smart classes were just as cool, if not more cool, than the popular kids.) that you would deign to lurk here is mind blowing. hells to the yes, i was traumatized and insecure about all of that stuff. it's the vagina in us that makes us needy fools. all i was confident in was that feigning confidence was a strong hand to play.

    @tracy YES! screw abercrombie! i cannot imagine the pressure of my parents refinancing their house for my education. i would have been like, refinance it, send me to public school, and buy me some sweet cords, dammit!

    @strawberrylime, i am DYING to know who you are. that is kind of disgusting about your homeroom teacher doing that to you. for emotional and financial reasons.

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  19. Oh... this story. It made me laugh so hard! It doesn't matter if you went to private or public school we all slow motioned our "She's all that" scene in our bathrooms every dance, homecoming, first day of school, etc.

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  20. that was awesome. thank you for sharing your teenage pain.

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