My one and only Birthday Party

I believe I was in the third grade. Somehow I think it was a surprise birthday party. (My sister might remember). It was during a time when I was into “My Little Pony.” I can barely remember who was at my party, except for a few photos I still have of the day. The problem is I cannot remember who most of the people are around the table in the photo.

The strongest memory I have is also one that paints me as a brat of a kid. While I know that survival was most likely the reason I never had another birthday party (food on the table at each meal was more important than having the best birthday bash) the memory I have was one of ingratitude. Before I tell you I have one further side note. I was in third grade during a time of “name envy.” The butt of your jeans had to have the right name brand or you did not fit in. Goodwill, hand-me-downs, and non-name brands did not work. As a kid growing up in a poor household, having “Guess” on my jeans was definitely not an option.

For that sole birthday party my mom made a cake and shaped it like a pony. It was to be a “My Little Pony” cake. The problem was that my mom spent so much time trying to shape the cake (I rather doubt they had a pony cake form back then), she forgot one of the key elements to the cake. The decoration/icing. My favorite (and probably only) My Little Pony was light blue with a lavender tail and mane. All My Little Ponies had a symbol on their hind that signified which Pony they were. Mine had lavender bows on the hind. My mom however decorated the cake so there were literally bows on the entire surface of the horse.

I was MORTIFIED. No one made fun of me, but I assumed all my friends thought this is what I thought a My Little Pony looked like. My friends never mentioned it, and I never brought it up, but I do think after it was all over I said something to my mom in tears. I am sure she wanted to slap me across the face (not that she ever would have) but wow did I sound ungrateful. When really I was afraid for what I would be thought of in a world that teased so heavily, where I would never have the “Guess” triangle on my butt.

Was it too much to ask for at the time to not stand out and to just fit in? Now that is the last thing I want – to fit in. Bring on the bows!

Would you be mortified?

I write. It is what I do. It is what makes me feel grounded and balanced, and how I make sense of the world. I cannot remember when I started writing in a journal, but I have a bin or two in a closet that contains all my journals from over the years. I am now slightly inspired to go and find my earliest ones and see has my voice changed? I am sure it has.

So when a colleague told me the other day about “Mortified Nation” I had a nice chuckle. Mortified Nation is a documentary that has just been released where individuals read from their teenage journals. Some of them are funny, some depressing, and some will speak directly to the title: mortified. I am sure I have plenty of journal entries that fall into each of those categories, and some that might lead me down a path to what life truly was like back then. Of course we have our memories, but I wonder if even at a less mature age if the words that flowed from within were telling to what was really going on in our lives?

Would you be mortified to read our teenage journal aloud? What would we find out about you? That you hated your mom, and had a crush on a different boy a week? Who knows but these individuals are brave souls, unless they have the writing ability of David Sedaris’ or their raw honesty just rings a bell in our own nostalgic thoughts of the past.

The documentary was available on iTunes and Amazon on November 5, and in some local theaters over the next 2 weeks.