I’m not exactly a nerd, because the term connotes a certain level of intellectual superiority. I was only stellar academics-wise back in grade 2 (and boy, did I gloat!). It was downhill from there. College wasn’t so bad, but we’re not talking about college. We’re talking grade school, where the bullies feasted on nerds like me, like flies swarm around warm sh*t. I guess I was asking for it: I was pigeon-chested, I had thick plastic eyeglasses, I wore platform shoes (hey, it was in vogue in the 70’s!), I’d trip everytime I tried to run, and my favorite topics were animals, dinosaurs, UFO’s, and the occult. So fair enough, I get it now why I was bullied. I can’t walk like a nerd, talk like a nerd, dress up like a nerd, then get hurt if someone calls me a nerd. I don’t know where it all turned. It wasn’t so bad when I was young. Here’s me with the late Pepe Pimentel, when my mom made me pose with him when we saw him at some resort in Laguna (something that sounded like Hidden Valley?):
Not so bad, right? You gotta admit, I was kinda cute. Pepe even asked me if I wanted to be part of his Saturday kiddie show at the time (ala-Uncle Bob). So I don’t know where it all went awry. Life took me through some twists and turns, and before I knew it, I was heading straight to NERDSVILLE! I started reading too many books, I stopped talking to people in general and retreated into my own little private world, I started a lifelong friendship with my pillows (Rhinus, Jason, and Doggie), I started playing with imaginary friends (a griffin named Grover), I lead an imaginary country (The Morbius Empire), and I started collecting everything I could get my hands on (stamps, coins, bottlecaps, rubber bands, kare-kare bones, EVERYTHING). I swear, I’d be a psychotherapist’s dream client! Anyway, in a couple of years, I went from cute and adorable to this:
Omigod, I’m so thankful the shot is blurry! It’s as if all the bullying and all the verbal abuse pushed the kid with the joie de vivre deeper and deeper inside, leaving a gnarled bizarro version of myself. I feared going to school because it would be day after day of being tormented by those goons in school uniforms. So I escaped, and I imagined, and I daydreamed myself far from where I was, leaving my corporeal self moving about like a complete idiot. Even after so many years in my school, when my graduation yearbook came out, the write-ups of my classmates were all glowing superlatives of all their successes and achievements. Here’s a sample, one of a brainiac and one of a jock (names blackened out to protect the innocent):
If you were the parent of any of these kids, you’d be grinning from ear to ear, beaming with pride, right? Now let’s move from exhibit A to exhibit ME. If you were the parent of this boy, who shall heretofore remain nameless, how would you feel?
Believe it or not, that was my yearbook write-up. Anyway, this isn’t a nerd pity party, just a bittersweet looking back, since we talked about my insect-collecting club days during one of the Morning Rush shows. It just reminded me of those days when the only thing that would comfort me on a Sunday night, knowing that it’s a Monday the next day, that I’d be facing alienation and discrimination from the bullies, was hearing a song on TV, from the Donnie and Marie Show. It went something like, “May tomorrow be a perfect day, may you find love and laughter along the way.” Thank heavens it was, and I eventually did. 🙂