Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Value of Pubic Humiliation: The Story of This Blog

When I was nine, my parents grew to believe I was dangerously close to teetering over the edge of a greedy, amoral abyss. I chalk this up to a series of painful episodes, beginning with the time I convinced every girl in my class to give me a My Little Pony at my ninth birthday party. Drunk with power, I then demanded my godmother return her practical birthday gift to me for the My Little Pony castle so my vinyl ponies would have somewhere to meet their dates. And she did! (I don’t recall what the practical gift was, but it might have been corduroys or a wooden box in which to store my plastic bracelets.)

I would have slapped me. In fact, I wish someone would invent a time machine already so I could travel back in time and slap some sense into myself that year. (But mom, if you're reading this, thanks for not slapping me.)

I was also getting into lots of trouble at school. Here are just two samples of my bad behavior from that year:

1) My friends and I regularly tossed our classmate, Nikki B., into the school dumpster during noon recess. For fun, I guess, though I doubt Nikki enjoyed it much. Skinny and rich enough to have a pink, ruffled canopy bed and all the Barry Manilow tapes, she made an easy target. (Nikki, wherever you are, I apologize for being such a jerk.)

2) My teacher, Mrs. Bradford, caught me pointing to my special girl area during a spelling test in a vain attempt to make my friend Melanie laugh. The spelling word was “hose.” I think you can figure out what I was getting at, loosely. (Wasn’t I terrible?) I had to push my desk into the hallway and shamefully confess my meaning behind the pointing. Actually, I didn’t confess; Melanie told on me. (Sidenote: is it me, or is the word "hose" kind of easy for a third grade reading test?)

CCD wasn’t getting through to me, probably because the nuns were more than a thousand years old and I wasn’t down with the whole confessional booth thing. Plus I was still singed from a mortifying church incident: when charged with merely doing the first reading during mass for all of the K-8 classes, I didn't know when to stop and kept right on reading, all the way through the gospel. My teacher (Sister Shameonyou) stood up and thundered, "NO!!!"

So despite money being tight, my parents shelled out the bucks for the complete set of ValueTales books in an effort to get me back on the right track.

Did anyone else have the ValueTales books when they were a kid? They’re still on my old bookshelf at my parents’ house, their sun-faded spines advertising the lesson each book aimed to instill: responsibility, fairness, honesty, determination, courage…

I think I had almost all of the books, save for “The Value of Laughter: The Story of Lucille Ball” and “The Value of Conviction: The Story of Cesar Chavez.”

Here we have Canadian amputee Terry Fox, who taught me the value of facing a challenge. Years later I would employ the skills I developed from this book when facing a particularly arduous challenge called “dating.”

Though Nikki never exacted revenge for my torments, not to worry. Junior high did. And payback was indeed a bitch. But that’s a post for another day.


A portrait of the artist as a young a-hole, at right.


36 comments:

  1. surcie10:22 PM

    I've never heard of ValueTales, but I'm sure that's only because I was the perfect child. Unfortunately, when it came to the hell that is dating, I had no Terry Fox to inspire me. I'm sure he gave you a leg up on the competition!

    BTW, you look very cute and sweet in the photo--not a bit hole-ish.

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  2. Weren't you a cute (if sassy) young thing!

    Why are nine and ten such hard ages for little girls? Those were my worst years, too (except I was the bullied, not the bully).

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  3. gorillabuns11:02 PM

    okay, so you are making me totally rethink catholic school for my kids, right down to the fossil nuns.

    though, i thought the dumpster trick was quite ingenious when it comes right down to the coveted pink canopy.

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  4. But, Jess, you were such a cute a-hole *LOL*

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  5. Umm...Jess? We would have been best friends in elementary school. Not really because of the "My Little Pony" fetish, although I would've been intrigued and totally would've played with you and made the ponies do obscene things, but more because of the dumpster bit, the hose bit and the shared trauma of CCD.

    Yep, we would've have been buds, sealing our fate in hell earlier than originally thought.

    LOVE the portrait.

    And Melanie is a bitch. We'll see her in hell. OH, WILL WE EVER!!

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  6. Hose IS a tough word to spell. It's clear now, but at that age we're learning all the rules about phonemes and graphemes (even though the teachers don't call them that). It could be hos, or hows, or hoes, or hoze, or hoz, etc.

    *pushes glasses up on nose*

    Sorry. You let out my inner word-nerd.

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  7. We totally would have been friends in grade school, if only so you wouldn't kick my ass and toss me in the trash.

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  8. That whole post was quite excellent, but you really got me with "Portrait of an artist as a young a-hole". Beautiful.

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  9. Jess, you are adorable...although I suddenly feel guilty for having a pink, ruffled canopy bed.

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  10. Terry Fox died before completing his challenge. And he ran funny.

    - Mike, former Canadian Child A-Hole

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  11. OMG, what a cute picture--that is really you! I Can tell, even without the literary smarty-pant's girl glasses you wear to look even smarter!

    OK, the hose thing--were you pointing to your vagity insinuating you would like a 'hose' in that area, or were you poiting to yourself meaning to imply "I is a hose bag!"

    Hahahahahah Aren't I a funny one!

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  12. Jeez Louise Jess, you had a baby at age 9? That is badass. But your husband looks a little young for you, no?

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  13. How did I miss that series when I was a youngin'?

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  14. Aren't all nine year olds devilish? I would think something was wrong with you if you hadn't been! I used to break in to abandoned trailers in the neighborhood to see if I could catch bums in the act. Act of what, I have no idea.

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  15. Sadly, I never had any ValueTales books. At that age, I was subsisting on a steady diet of MAD Magazine snuck out of my brother's room

    Which explains a lot.

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  16. I wonder how many people realize just how funny your comment about reading into the Gospel really is. You know, you may have to answer for that one in the end. Good grief, I'm going to be laughing over that one all week!

    I was taught by Sister Victorine (no lie). I believe she was Lucas' inspiration for Darth Vader.

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  17. I think we were probably all brats when we were little. I'm just so glad that whole stage of life is over. At least I hope I'm not still a brat.

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  18. YOU sound like my kind of girl.

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  19. What a cutie. It looks just like you. And yes poor girls have such a hard time. IT must be to prepare them for adulthood where life isn't any easier for a woman.

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  20. you bad girl! I did a little making fun of myself - usually of the really poor and/or retarded kids. I was fucking evil.

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  21. Eileen12:20 PM

    I did 12 years of Catholic school- and you can see what happened to me.

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  22. In 7th grade I sketched a picture of my Spanish teacher (male) in drag. And I labeled it with his name. And I did this on the back of a quiz that I turned in to him.

    Where can I get those ValueTales?

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  23. Aimee9:32 PM

    OMG, Jess. All 9 year olds are horrible. Testing the waters & whatnot. I remember being in the middle a lot. One girl was my best friend at church, but then during the week at school she was snotty & rude. Finally one Sunday I all but told her to get her OWN choir book, she was NOT sharing mine.

    Sorry I've been on pause lately. I promise an email this weekend. I do. xoxox

    Also hope your ass is feeling better. ;)

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  24. Isn't it fun to analyze our stupid behavior from years past? LOL!

    "A portrait of the artist as a young a-hole, at right"

    Hey, I think you have that drive, devilish spunk, and imagination for a reason. To entertain us.

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  25. No Value Tales here. But a lot of bible lessons.

    My problem wasn't that I was the bad kid - because I hated to get into trouble. But I was the instigator. I would challenge other kids to do the "dirty deeds". Which I think back was probably worse. Because I never got in trouble for it.

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  26. I have to admire a girl who can manipulate others so well. Not to mention the brute strength required to toss a classmate into the garbage.

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  27. You lucky girl! I've tagged you for a meme. Instructions are over at my site.

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  28. PS Silly! I know you're not a mom yet, but that don't matter to me. You can talk about your own mom, for all I care.

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  29. I never had the ValueTapes thing, but being Southern Baptist carried its own peculair brand of guilt-inducing punshment. This post made me laugh out loud. I like you more BECAUSE you were a young a-hole.

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  30. I was almost as mean and dirty as you in third grade. Almost. There was this girl in my class that I nicknamed "Fairy Dog" Turner. Her real name was Mary Beth. I got everyone in the whole class to call her that from then on.

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  31. Wow, I was never that mean because I was so unbelievably slow to thought. When kids would pick on me, I'd run home, walk in the door and start saying: "Oh yeah, well you're stupid!" Or something inane like that. I was a putz...and probably still am.

    This was fun thanks for sharing and no, I never had ValueTales. I did have nuns, however...and lots of them.

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  32. I totally remember those books. Being Canadian, I especially remember the Terry Fox book.

    Such a cute little a-hole you were...

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  33. Oh man, the Value Tales books. I think I had "The Value of Perseverance - The Louis Pasteur Story" and something about Helen Keller.

    And you were a little bad ass weren't you? Sadly, you and your third grade posse probably would have thrown my nerdy ass into the dumpster too.

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  34. HOW did I miss this post? It's wonderful. You remind me of my fourth grade friend, Jenny P., who taught me how to be a "baddy baddy" (instead of a goody goody) and encouraged me to perceive innapropriate behavior and stints in the principal's office as something wonderful.

    I never put a girl in the dumpster though. Ouch.

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  35. Your post reminded me of my 4 year old niece at christmas, opening my gift, her nose wrinkled: "Hmppf, everything I didn't want!". I'm certain that I was never that way ;-)

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  36. Hilarious as always. Remind me again why I keep being too busy to stop by? Must make it a priority. Everybody needs laughter...and painful reminders of their own past misdeeds and embarrasments.

    By the way, the blog link won't work, but I'll put it anyway. New one coming soon...I hope. :-(

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