15 September 2013

Life Goes On

photo via http://maramostafa.wordpress.com/
Do you remember book orders from elementary school? You know, those flimsy Scholastic pamphlets that prime children for a life of idle spending? The ones that advertise “unbeatable prices” for the best of Magic Tree House and Junie B Jones? Well I do; book orders haunt me, not just because they paved the way for unhealthy buying habits, but because they mark my most tumultuous childhood memory.  

Growing up I hated reading; I mean hated reading. I found greater satisfaction in picking my nose or watching paint dry, so when Scholastic book orders came around, I was less than enthused. This killed my poor mother, who offered to buy me any book in the catalog with the high hopes of lighting my “educational fire.” As other kids perused through their booklets with thrill, mine found a permanent home in the depths of my Limited Too backpack. I had better things to do with my life than read. Essential things like watch Lizzy McGuire, tend to my Yamaguchi, or make up dance routines to all the songs on the newest NOW CD.

Half way through the school year, Scholastic decided to revamp their marketing plan in order to appeal to the not-so-studious children like me. They added “clubs” for girls and boys that featured two of the most popular tween products. For girls they introduced “Lip Smacker Club, America’s Famous Lip Balm Flavors.” For just $5.00 you could become an elite Smacker’s member and receive the latest lip balm flavor with your purchase. Since Lip Smackers determined whether or not you were cool, I made it my goal to become a “Smackette.” 

On the bus ride home I daydreamed about the flavors to come, Orange Crush, Dr. Pepper, Tootsie Roll, Strawberry, and Glittery Watermelon, and prepared my, “I’ve Gotta Have It Or Else I’ll Die” speech for my mom. After a few trial runs with the bus window, I decided that the best way to maneuver a “yes” out of my mother involved a light ego massage. I’d rub her sweet spot; I’d tell her that she was right, that I had found the light, and I loved to read. I’d even throw my hands in the air for dramatic effect. I’d tell her that I wanted to order a book or two, and then once she was hooked, I’d slyly add the part about the Lip Smacker Club...

Contrary to my foolproof plan, my mom said no. “Book orders are for books only,” as if the Smacker’s club wasn’t essential to my very being. I tried asking again, probing for a different answer, but all I got was another no. I told her I’d die without it as I fell to my knees. I grabbed my hair, pulling out the butterfly clips in a hot fit, exclaiming, “My life is OVER! You will never understand me, I HATE YOU!” She took a calming breath and looked down at my blotchy red and snot-ridden face with disgust, and said, “You will most definitely not be apart of Lip Smacker’s acting like that” and walked away. I spent the night crying into my Aaron Carter pillow, planning the downfall of my popularity as I took whiffs of the few flavors of Smackers I owned.

After recess one day, we returned to the classroom to find our book orders piled high on our desks. I usually didn’t mind watching my classmates open the plastic encased books since I couldn’t care less about reading, but this time was different. This time it was like watching Christmas morning from the back porch, snow falling on my head as I watched my friends take in the warmth. This time, I watched my friends become “Smacketts” while I remained plain-old-Mallory. Two girls sitting next to me screeched with delight as they uncovered their new flavored lip balm at the bottom of their orders. They opened their “mystery” flavors, trying them on for size, swapping them back and forth. Once the school bell rang, all the girls in my class huddled together with their newest flavors, passing them around for a quick sniff as I looked on with spite.

Rather than hanging out with my friends before the busses left, I decided to prepare myself for the next Smacker-less day and wallow in my misery. I gave myself a pep talk for the following day, preparing to become the lamest of the lame.

The next day, the Smackers Club obsession had surprisingly subsided and translated into an obsession with tattoo chocker necklaces. Although I’ll never let my mom forget the “torture” she put me through, I learned a valuable lesson thanks to my “deprived childhood”- Life goes on.  
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