Hint: It Was Lean On Me By Club Nouveau
When I was in high school, approximately ninety-nine years ago, I ran with a superstraight crowd. Well, not a crowd, exactly, but enough to play bridge except when one of us was mad at the rest, which was pretty much all the time. Anyway, we all decided to become Peer Counselors one semester, which basically meant that, for one period every day plus one after school session per week, we would make ourselves available to listen to and rap about (yeah, that’s right, I said “rap”. it was the ’80s (but just barely so, you know, shut up).) people’s problems; whether they be with friends, boyfriends, parents, teachers, their own weird bodies, whatever. We were instructed in suicide prevention methods (pretty much just calling a grownup), what to do if one of our “clients” wanted to hurt someone else (again, grownup), and dealing with reports of abuse (also, grownup. in fact, looking back, we were kind of just tattletales who got an hour to fuck around every day (please don’t tell my mom because it’s the only A I got in high school. oh, and French, but that was because I had a little flirt with Monsieur Silver) and rad tee shirts. Oh, yeah, there were tee shirts). We were the cool kids’ worst nightmare: Hall Monitors for your soul.
The thing is, I was sure I was going to be an actress, and everyone knows that actresses don’t have to care about other people, but thought that training to do so could only benefit me (duh) in case I needed to play someone who was empathetic. I practiced making concerned faces and sympathetic eyes in the mirror and really selling the whole caring bit. I decided that frosty pink lipstick really brought out the “I’m here for you, friend”-ness in my mouth and always wore Love’s Baby Soft, in case I wanted to go in for the hug with a little extra squeeze at the end for authenticity. I worked on crying on cue, but couldn’t master it. I hadn’t yet experienced enough tragedy in my life. Now, I’ve got more than enough material to draw from and nothing to fake cry for. Thanks a lot, life.
In the end, I think I saw a total of 10 clients all semester and never anyone more than once. Turned out, I was TOO superstraight for peer counseling. I had to ask my fellow counselors things like what a joint was or if lesbians were from Lesbia and, if so, where on the globe I could find it (yeah. that happened). No one wanted to tell their secrets to the girl who was like “Oh, I totally know about that. I read about it in Judy Blume’s ‘Forever’.”
But, before all this. Before the tattling and the fucking around and concerned face and sympathetic eyes and the confusion about drugs and sex, we had…
That’s right, folks. That, there, is a picture of me. And some other people. But definitely me, too. I don’t remember what we were singing, but I’m 100% sure it was inspirational and Up With People-y.
So, internet, now you’ve seen me. And my poor fashion choices. My anonymity just went out the window, along with my pride. Which is great because I was starting to feel a little bloated.