I was born socially awkward, though I have learned how to "act" appropriately. Social interaction is an intricate dance that sometimes mystifies me and can be exhausting. I strive to say the right things at the right time but I usually make a mistake and other people react badly. They don’t seem to understand how perplexing and frightening it is for me to communicate with humans. Thankfully, I have still managed to make some friends who understand and appreciate my quirks. As a kid I considered Mr. Spock to be a kindred spirit.
During high school I hung out with the other outsiders. We weren’t Jocks (sports team members), Snots (popular kids), Dirts (smokers, drinkers, and drug users), Geeks (semi-popular kids) or fit in with any other group. The mean kids called us Freaks. We referred to ourselves as the Square Pegs, in deference to a mediocre teenage television sitcom. We managed to find each other and ate in the “overflow” lunchroom. I preferred the space because it was quiet. The main lunchroom was crowded, loud, and made me very nervous.
There were about twelve in our group and we spanned several grades. We welcomed other weirdoes and found camaraderie with each other. It was nice to be with people who knew what it was like to be bullied by the other kids. Sadly, during our tenure in school the victim was to blame for being bullied. We treated each other with respect and provided emotional support since few adults were our champions. After graduation, we remained in contact but eventually lost track of each other.
During a visit to my hometown, I went out for dinner with my first cousin. Nancy is fifteen years older than I am but we get along splendidly. We went out for a drink afterwards and ended up at the local dive. A large sign states “No smoking allowed inside” as you enter the business. It is an old dimly lit badly decorated establishment but it makes enough money to remain open. We sat at the nearly deserted bar and she knew everybody there. She introduced me as her “Cousin from the Cities.” I drank my favorite Malibu rum and coke, with very little ice. Though it is against Minnesota state law, people were smoking inside the bar, including the owner/bartender.
Eventually, the conversation drifted to my parents and the couple sitting next to Nancy knew my folks. The man lounging next to them perked up, “When did you graduate?” he inquired. I informed him and he started laughing and told me his name. He was a Square Pegger!! George smokes so he has not aged well but he still sort of looked like he did way back in the day. I’m more than twice the weight I was in high school, my hair is now gray and shorter, and he didn’t recognize me either.
We chatted. He was honest about making some foolish mistakes during the ensuing years but loves having kids. I told him of my life but I was careful because I knew that whatever I said would get back to my family, thus is the gossip trail in a small town. He and I were friendly in high school but there has never been a romantic interest. None now but he did inquire about Marvin. Marvin and I were best friends during high school but Marvin moved to Chicago and ceased contact. George had heard that Marvin was “funny” dressing in women’s clothes. I set him straight and told him that Marvin was gay, pun intended. Marvin had given me permission long ago to tell anyone that I wanted to that he was gay. I consider a person’s sexuality to be a personal matter but since Marvin and George were friends in high school, I told the truth. George wasn’t surprised.
George is still holds a lot of resentment against the torments that we endured growing up. He bumps into the ones living or visiting the area and it causes him pain and anger. I told him that they weren’t worth the energy. I choose not to dwell on the horrors that they caused for me, which were numerous. I have no desire to attend a class reunion and be subjected to the cutting remarks of the now-adult bastards. A few may have matured and may even feel remorse but none have ever apologized to me. I have encountered several who won’t admit that they caused any harm. It is difficult enough to deal with the bullies in my family. I hope that all the Square Peggers are doing well. George gave me an unexpected hug as we were leaving. I’m glad that he is doing okay.
Avoiding round holes.
© 2013 Ima B. Musing