22 June 2011

Raise Your Hands If You're Sure

"What on earth does 'moded' mean?"

A few posts back I spoke of moded people, thinking to my old school self, "Self, I am so hip and getting down and jiggy with it."

"Like, for shizzle," says the white girl.

Apparently, there are old school terms and then there is old, old school. Even the old schooliest might not know what "moded" meant. The actual meaning of the word "moded" derived from "moated", in the medieval days when you would get stuck on the moat and look stupid. You would have to swim to dry land, across rank water full of people-eating eels or the Loch Ness monster or something.

Yeah. I just made that up.

If I read my urban dictionary right, it means: inyerface, burned, dissed, facejob, owned. A derivative of the word "demoted".

My sisters and I flung this word about often growing up in So. Cali. It was the ultimate burn, especially toward our neighbors. Calling names was nothing new. Almost a rite of passage, like high school prom. Or a first date. Or cleaning untended liquid broccoli from your first apartment fridge. As kids, we were rebels, calling the neighbor kids, "Ni**erpoos". They in turn, called us "Honkey Trash".

HUD apartment housing, folks. Doesn't get any better than this. Apparently, it takes a village to raise a child, and that same village to make your kids racist.

Not a shiny moment in my childhood memories but here is one shinier from long ago. I'm a greenie. I recycle.

Fifth grade was a very hard year for me. I discovered boys. I discovered Lawman jeans were cool. I discovered friends could stab you in the back and that hygiene couldn't be taken care of by a shake of baking soda.

You see, my parents were under the opinion that with four girls, deodorant was a commodity we could do without. The notion of buying deodorant for a second grader was probably not on their radar and baking soda was cheap and always available in the kitchen. Bad news for me.

I have always been a Sweaty Betty. (no offense to Betty). The payoff to looking like someone who is detoxing is that you have great skin, but again, one is always sweaty. The bane of my existence has been B.O. related from the start of second grade.

I recall that dark day when a parent handed us four girls a set of shakers to share. These shakers were rather like the red pepper flake dispensers at the pizza parlor, except these babies were full of baking soda.

To shake. Into my pits.

It doesn't take a science major to know that baking soda is prone to clumping in wet environments. And boy, did it.

Every morning I would faithfully shake baking soda into the caverns of my arms with the hopes I'd ward off smelling like a 10 year old couch in a frat house. I'd end up spilling white powder on my clothes and hating the moment that would come a few hours later. That moment, that dreaded moment, of catching wind of my fragrant..er..., flagrant self.

Being an odoriferous sort, I would nearly die of embarrassment when I would nonchalantly raise my arm and a small clod of greyish baking soda would fall out of my armpit. It would happen at the most inopportune times. And no boy would come within ten feet of me. Who knew that giving it another few years and I'd be modeling swimsuits for a living? How is that for moded? But for my fifth grade year, I stood three heads taller and was marked with sweat stains and raging B.O.


I would pray, "PLEASE don't let there be clods in my pits. PLEASE don't let their be clods in my pits." It was mortifying. By mid morning though, you'd think my body was having some gruesome white clod fall out.

Despite my baking soda pits, B.O., and dusted t-shirts, I had trouble making friends. I remember one morning, going over to my desk to start my school day. I came eye to eye with a gigantic, sunshine yellow, toile-covered basket perched upon my school desk. This was not any basket, it was a JEAN NATE' bath and body basket. I stood dumbfounded, eyes glazed in glorious wonder over who would be so kind to do that? Soap, lotions, a little deodorant, and more soap....all packaged in it's beautiful, golden yellow glory. I was so excited. I felt special.

I didn't realize the assistant teacher was giving it to me because I was emulating the Bog of Eternal Stench. My teacher may have thought that I (or my parents) needed some help in the hygiene department. I gather she didn't have a polite way of saying, "No offense but you smell like a sheep herder!" My stepmom became unglued (and rightly so) when she found out one of my teachers gave me body products. Why it was such an offensive gift, I wondered. I had my baking soda, right? Naturally, I didn't understand until it was explained to me how the teacher should have addressed my parents first.

And queue the deafening sound of a 5th grader's feelers being put through a proverbial meatgrinder. 

Everyone has an awkward stage in their childhood. I had big teeth, a bean pole body, mean school mates, and awkwardness all poured into a pair of Lawman jeans.

That was my fifth grade year in a nut shell.

I'm thankful now for those character building lessons. Armed with deodorant, my fifth grade year could have been easier. I could have forgone the embarrassment but I am now better equipped to empathize with my kids once that time comes...and it will...even if I will never, ever, ever enjoy red pepper flakes on my pizza.

You can be Sure of that.

~Bee never lets you see her sweat

Listening to: Animal by Dash & Will

3 comments:

pshene said...

This is hilarious and I am glad you can look back now and laugh at it. I enjoy your writings, Jenn.

And I have a hard time believing, as cute as you Littlehale girls were, that guys were staying 10 feet away for any reason other than timidity, clods or no clods!

sheamacleod said...

Oh, you make me giggle.

By the time I met you, I'm pretty sure you girls were allowed deoderant. But only if you bought your own. lol

Foo said...

And here I assumed it was text message abbrev-speak for "outmoded".

Your story of going through puberty without antiperspirant has traumatized me to an extent that I'll be entering therapy.

Post a Comment

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe