Honestly, I don't know why I was so obsessed with that crowd. Most of those people didn't do much that was very interesting -- although as we got a little older they were the ones who had parties, where you could drink as much Coke as you wanted, eat as many potato chips, and slow dance with the coolest, best-looking girls.
Maybe it was the chance to slow dance with the best-looking girls. For the best looking girls definitely formed the In-crowd on the female side of the aisle, led by Julie, the prettiest girl in the class. But, honestly, must of those good looking girls were not particularly interesting or smart or unique in any way -- although, to be fair, Julie was nicer to me than she ever had to be.
There was one girl, though. Her name was Sharon. She had striking reddish-blonde hair and ... well, she had developed physically, which captured the attention of the boys in junior high. She was definitely part of the In-crowd.
Obviously, I was attracted to Sharon, and was thrilled when we were assigned to be lab partners for biology class, which we took in 8th grade because we were in the honors section.
In our third or fourth lab session, the teacher introduced us to the concept of cells. I remember standing there at the lab bench next to Sharon, when the teacher directed one member of each team to swab the inside of their mouth with a little stick. Sharon volunteered to be the swabber for us. And so she took the stick, opened her mouth, and wiggled the stick inside her mouth, scraping off some cells from the inside of her cheek.
She took the stick out and proudly held it out to me. There was the stick, with this glob of goop hanging off the end, all drippy and shiny and looking kind of like snot.
I took one look at it -- and immediately lost my attraction to my lab partner. But that was actually a good thing, because from then on I could concentrate on biology instead of Sharon. And as I remember, we both went on to get A's in that class (well, Sharon did anyway).
It was also in 8th grade when I caught wind of a rumor. The four coolest boys in our class were forming a club. They called themselves The Mamas. They let it be known that they had a secret handshake, and met together after school. Of course, all this made them even cooler than before.
As soon as knowledge of The Mamas got out, another group of boys who were almost as cool decided to get together and form a second group which they called The Papas. One of the boys, Larry, approached me to see if I'd be interested in joining The Papas. I was thrilled to be asked and told Larry, sure, count me in.
But a day or two later, Larry found me in the school hallway, and informed me that they'd decided to offer someone else the fourth spot in The Papas. I was out. I was rejected. Just one more leftover loser in 8th grade.
A few days later another friend of mine, a neighbor named Mike, started making fun of The Mamas and The Papas out on the playground. He snickered at them -- not to their faces, but to me and another friend of ours, David, who lived up the hill behind my house. Then Mike suggested the three of us form our own group. I, of course, feeling rejected, jumped at the chance.
The whole thing burned out in a few weeks, and was soon forgotten. But the next time we all convened for a party on a Saturday night, the lights went down, the slow song came on, and I summoned up the nerve to ask Julie to dance with me. I was floored when she said yes. And we slow danced under the dim lights for the length of the next record.
But then, a few minutes later, I saw her with Larry. They were talking. And giggling. Then they were dancing. And I was back to drinking Coke and eating potato chips with Mike and David.
Finally, when I got to college, I lost interest in trying to be in the In-crowd -- partly because there were too many people in college for there to be a single In-crowd. There were athletes who were cool; there was a theater group that thought it was cool; the kids who ran the school newspaper were cool in a certain way; and a lot of fraternity brothers thought they were super cool.
I finally realized what I needed to do was not try to be cool, but to do my own thing -- which I eventually did, and found my own group of friends who liked me and accepted me, and who were interesting, and even cool in their own way.
In other words, what I learned was, I'll always be a Three Little Pig.