Flounders and Sonnets


This week, we are hearkening back to my youth. High school to be precise. Hard to believe now, but I was an odd little teenager. Granted, I think most teenagers are weird. But I was a little weirder, I think, than an average teenager. Nerdy and quiet, but quirky. Certainly weirder than my brother, who mooned everyone. So that’s why, when a teacher complains of a kid being weird, I always ask, “Weird, weird? Or just quirky?”

I mean, for one assignment, I was supposed to make a gingerbread house. But mine collapsed (probably because of my baking abilities, or lack thereof), so I made a ginger fish. I originally intended for the fish to look like Rainbow Fish (aw, sweet), but instead he looked kind of like Elton John (um, weird. But seriously, if Elton John were a flounder, he’d look like my fish). So I gave him giant rhinestone glasses, named him Freddie, and wrote a story about my fish’s musical talents. In German. And entered it and my fish into the gingerbread house competition, and put it one of the displays. (Strangely, I was disqualified)

For another assignment (same year, even), a friend of mine and I decided to collaborate on writing sonnets (from The Passionate Shepherd and The Maid’s Reply to the Shepherd). She wrote one, I wrote the other. It was actually a clever idea. I meant it to be silly, but as soon as my English teacher started reading it (aloud to the class, though I don’t recall why), I realized how very, very dirty the whole thing sounded. My cheeks flaming, I thought desperately to myself:

“Oh. God. I did not just write a sonnet about… masturbation.”

And then, more desperately, “Please, please, please, don’t let them get it.”

My classmates, for what was probably the first time all year, fell completely silent. I wanted to hide beneath my desk. Soon, one head turned in my direction. Then another.  Someone giggled. Soon, the entire class was howling with laughter.

I wanted to die.

Instead, I may have gotten some grudging respect from my peers after that. I was pretty quiet then–I was too shy to even order at McDonald’s. Yet when they heard that poem, thinking I had intended to write on such a subject, suddenly I was more than the quiet kid who sat in the back of the room and hid behind all that hair.

I was the quiet kid who hid behind all the hair, president of German Club, and the girl who wrote about spanking the monkey.

Is it a wonder I write romance novels now?

MCC

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