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That’s Not Fair!

January 19, 2012

In addition to being born with the body type of a Walking Stick insect, I also had to suffer the injustice that this ball was hit right past my glove.

Life isn’t fair.  That’s what my parents told me anyway.  And, damnit, that whole unfair thing is just not fair.

I can tell you all agree.  Because I can tell my “Ode to Mom” post last week (here) really hit a nerve — specifically, the part where I told about losing a 4-H cookie competition because, as the judges explained in their notes, I “didn’t use the preferred store-bought paper dessert plates to display peanut butter cookies, as directed in the 4-H handbook.”

Well, since that post, the emails have rolled in!  Emails from readers who say they understand and have faced similar injustices in their lives.  A sampling:

Dear Angie,

One time in college, a fancy restaurant refused to serve me because I had long hair and was wearing a Metallica shirt.

I guess I was covered in Silly String, too.  Oh, that, and I had bile on my shoes.

Party hearty,

Mel

Dear Angie,

You poor thing not winning that cookie competition.  Dislike!  Get this.  Last week I went to Trader Joe’s and learned they no longer carry my favorite hummus-flavored soy puffs.  Can you imagine?

Margaret

Dear Angie,

I feel you, dog.  In related news, last week my neighbor ordered me to pick up my dog’s business from her front lawn using my bare hands.  Okay, I didn’t hate it.

Sal

P.S.  It makes good compost.

***

Horrible, wretched stories that make my heart ache and my fists clench.  Where is the justice?

This made me want to share with you a few more injustices from my childhood.  When you read these, you will probably have to remind yourself that I live in America.

1.)  Censorship.  When I was in junior high, my small town’s radio stations only played country music and Steve Miller Band.  To cope, I made mixed tapes by recording songs played on a hip, out-of-town radio station that only came in on rare occasions when an eastern wind blew just right and the moon was in the lunar phase.

I waited patiently for weeks to record Faith No More’s song Epic.  It finally came in perfectly one evening and I was ready.  But then, toward the end of the recording, during the closing piano solo, a radio deejay broke in and exclaimed Hey guys, this song is a mopey-dopey downer!  And then he went into a loud, off-tune imitation of Sammy Hagar singing Don’t Worry, Be Happy that lasted until my song finally ended.

My brother and a random, unidentifiable cowboy kid with an arm cast who will forever be immortalized in my family's photo album.

2.) Favoritism.  My family once lived in Florida, mere miles away from Disney World.  My brother was practically raised there.  Donald was like an uncle to him.  Since I was an infant at that time, my parents had to resort to picking up random strangers to accompany my brother on their many, many trips to the theme park.  Some of those random kids didn’t even have two working arms (see left), as necessary to hug on large Disney mascots.  Months after I was born and years before I reached the height requirements to go on the teacup ride, my family moved to Chicago.

3.)  Deprived basic needs.  My mom refused to ever buy me the breakfast cereal that was made up of miniature chocolate chip cookies.

4.)  More censorship.  In 1982, Square Pegs premiered on CBS — perhaps my favorite show of the entire decade.  It was ground-breaking.  Not only did it spark serious community conversations about the severe injustices of social cliques, it also included the most authentic Valley Girl accent ever depicted on national television.  After just one season, Square Pegs left the airwaves.

Had the show carried on, had the actors got the acclaim they deserved, the world might be a different place now.  And I wonder where that homely Sarah Jessica Parker girl would be today.

5.)  Still more censorship.  When I was in elementary school, I drew perhaps the best horse ever drawn by a first grader in the history of crayon sketches.  My classmate Clint then yanked it out of my hands and altered it to make the horse appear to be defecating.  To gain his acceptance, I then wrote up an essay for Clint using lined handwriting paper, which I stapled to the drawing.

My hoors poes on the grund.

He poes alot and alot. 

Later I think he will ate it all up.   

My beloved first grade teacher Mrs. Fagin spotted our work, pulled me into the hall and let me have it.  I recall she said such devastating things like she was “disappointed” in me because I was “her brightest student” and I was better than this.  And then she said she didn’t care a lick about what Clint did because he was a “no good loser anyway who would, at best, end up pumping gas and drawing poop on other people’s phenomenal drawings of barnyard animals for the rest of his loser pathetic life.”

Okay, I can’t remember exactly what she said about Clint so this is just my paraphrasing of what I think she probably said.

6.)  Copyright infringement.  When I was in second grade, some bratty kid plagiarized a story from Humpy Dumpty magazine and used it for our writing assignment.  She ended up getting her story selected out of all of our stories, she won a student writing award, and she was sent to a prestigious writing workshop where she got to meet famous children’s book author Ivy Ruckman.

Oh, wait.  Yes.  That’s right.  That was me.

So what?  What are you going to do about it anyway?  Call up Ivy Ruckman or something?  Yeah, well you know what she’ll say?  Life isn’t fair.

47 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2012 11:48 am

    I feel your pain. Blabber-mouthed DJs need to find another job. I feel like punching someone.

  2. January 19, 2012 11:57 am

    “Some of those random kids didn’t even have two working arms (see left), as necessary to hug on large Disney mascots.”

    So glad I wasn’t drinking milk … and then blowing it out my nose when I read this!

    Ah, life isn’t fair – the hallmark card of life! Great post.

    • January 19, 2012 12:54 pm

      Thanks, MJ! I’m glad that didn’t happen and I’m glad it wasn’t soda — I’ve done that before and it burns.

  3. January 19, 2012 12:01 pm

    I remember my frustration at having to work in our family hardware store and listen to country music all day. And the fact that you didn’t have to work there, sis. You perfected the art of ticking dad off enough that he’d send you home. (He’d just kick my ass if I tried that.) And when you got paid for the little you worked there and I didn’t!

    Hey, MY life was not fair!

    • January 19, 2012 12:56 pm

      I don’t remember any of this. So you’re telling me our parents owned a hardware store? And that I at one time worked there too? That sounds made up.

      • January 19, 2012 2:39 pm

        Instead it sounds like the basis for several future blog posts!

      • January 19, 2012 3:05 pm

        That might open up a whole can of worms I’m not sure I should open. Child labor laws, for example.

  4. January 19, 2012 12:03 pm

    My older sister once got a horse-drawn sleigh for Christmas. I got dolls and clothes. I LOVED Square Pegs so much! I can’t believe you got an award for plagiarizing. Why didn’t I think of that? So jealous.

    • January 19, 2012 12:59 pm

      Oh, no! Not a horse-drawn sleigh! What a brat! I don’t know how you ever moved past that pain.

      I appreciate the confirmation that Square Pegs in fact existed. I know so few people that have ever even heard of it, so sometimes I think I just imagined it all.

  5. January 19, 2012 12:08 pm

    Just so I know you did NOT go to Disney as a child, because I didn’t either. What’s worse is that friends of mine took their kids to Disney on what turned out to be a special “theme” day. The two little girls couldn’t get onto the TeaCup ride because it was filled with gay men.

    • January 19, 2012 1:02 pm

      That special “theme” day sounds like a great photo op for Newt Gingrich. He could have posed right in the middle of a teacup. I really need to get back to my job in politics because I still have all of these brilliant ideas to share.

      • January 19, 2012 1:06 pm

        But which wife would he pose with, and whose dress would he be wearing?

      • January 19, 2012 1:11 pm

        Elyse, you need to work on our campaign. Because those are exactly the questions we need to be asking ourselves.

      • January 19, 2012 1:45 pm

        Well, I was planning to work for Obama, but maybe I’ll consider Newt. After all, a new marriage for both of us might be fun. Of course, it is possible that marriage to Newt is carcinogenic, so I will have to think about it a little bit more.

        Let’s chat in December.

      • January 19, 2012 2:14 pm

        Okay, but don’t you dare steal my teacup photo op idea. Although, it might not work as well in mobilizing your voter base.

  6. January 19, 2012 12:13 pm

    I was just introduced to your blog, love it! Great post – life isn’t fair sometimes, but kids from our generation seem to roll with it better than today’s kids!!

  7. January 19, 2012 1:17 pm

    You’re lucky to be so talented; the only thing I could draw was flies.

    • January 19, 2012 1:19 pm

      Drawing is overrated. Who needs to draw these days when we have adorable clip art at our fingertips? Drawing is soooo 1992.

  8. January 19, 2012 1:32 pm

    Hah – the only line I hated more than the “life’s not fair” line, was the “would you jump off a bridge if the other kids were doing it too” – line.

    Although the one I heard most was the “because I said so!” line around our house.

    You know what really isn’t fair though? It’s not fair that everybody (literally everybody) had a functioning TV growing up with more than 4 stations. We weren’t poor or anything. My Dad just didn’t think TV was educational (of course not! That’s the point!) so he was wasn’t prepared to even pay for basic cable until about 1998 (when I for all intents and purposes had already moved out). We had one of those old TV sets with rabbit ears that you had to play with for ever to get a decent quality picture.

    I think I spent about 3 years after I moved out glued to the TV set watching reruns of everything I could get my hands on to make up for the all those lost childhood moments.

    I really was deprived! – So I absolutely feel your pain.

    oh that and that a friend of mine can eat whatever she wants without gaining weight – talk about not fair (what’s the use of a survivor’s slow metabolism when there isn’t a famine in sight, I ask you?! ;) )

    • January 19, 2012 2:20 pm

      You may know I was practically raised by television, so I can say you WERE deprived. I know a couple of your kind in real life and I can’t even have a conversation with them. Sometimes we’ll talk about the weather and what I made for dinner the previous night. And (oh, no!) sometimes we discuss books we’ve read.

      I’m glad you were able to catch-up on all that quality television. When you’re at a high brow art gallery opening and need a good ice breaker, I’ve always found that inserting Saved by the Bell into the conversation works quite well.

  9. January 19, 2012 2:53 pm

    Ahhh… you brought back the thrill of making mix tapes. How much more fun could there be on a Saturday night than sitting by your boom box, fingers poised just above the play and record buttons waiting for hours for the one song you want? Good times.

    • January 19, 2012 3:10 pm

      Yes! You captured that scene perfectly! Those were good times indeed. Now if you want to get really tacky, we can talk about how I used to also hold a tape recorder to the TV to record the audio from Friday Night Videos. Then every once in a while you’d hear in the background of the recording “Can I change the channel now?” or “Time to go to bed.”

      • January 19, 2012 5:35 pm

        I actually brought a camera (one of those long, narrow Kodak cameras that looked like half a brick) into a movie theater and took pictures of Peter Frampton in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the movie screen. My girlfriend and I saw that movie over and over again (I didn’t have a TV, hence, my super odd teen behavior and use of the words hence and super); we were pretty much the only people in the theater so the newfangled built-in flash didn’t bother anyone. I guess I have strayed from the topic . . . . life isn’t fair, it it was it would have occured to my teenage brain to bring a tape recorder into the theater as well. Alas, we can’t all be as brainy as you Angie.

      • January 20, 2012 9:21 pm

        I love that story! I wish I would’ve been that cool, but I was too goody-goody to do something so insanely illegal. (Shocking!) Although, then again, I might’ve done a lot of illegal things for Peter Frampton. Rrrrrrow!

  10. January 19, 2012 3:17 pm

    I can’t figure out Sammy Hagar singing Don’t Worry Be Happy. I must be missing something. And it’s just not fair. I love that you plagiarized a story and won a contest with it. That is an After School Special, or at least an Ozzie and Harriet episode. You are so Ghetto (not).

    • January 19, 2012 3:52 pm

      No, you’re not missing anything, Les. That buttmunch that sang over my song thinking he had the cool raspy voice of Sammy Hagar is the problem. The stupid Bobby McFerrin song he sang is the other problem. And the fact that I once owned “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” earrings is the after-school special you speak of.

  11. January 19, 2012 4:07 pm

    Two things:
    1) Does Clint indeed pump gas now, or is he a world-renowned brain surgeon?
    2) In that picture with your brother and the random injured cowboy, who’s the kid in the middle?

    • January 19, 2012 4:42 pm

      Good questions, Peg. 1.) I have no idea. Perhaps a proctologist. Then the joke might literally be on him. 2.) Are you talking behind the Donald Duck costume? Before answering this, I had to actually click on the photo so I could see it enlarged and peer inside the costume eyes. Upon further study, I’d venture a guess that it’s Dom DeLuise.

      • January 20, 2012 4:08 pm

        I was going for the laugh-out-loud impression that I thought Donald Duck was another random kid with a blue hat and a really, really big shnoz. Way to ruin a joke there, Angie.

        Looking at your picture, let me just say this. In the high stakes game of puberty I’ll see your walking stick, missing-the-ball shortstop, and raise you a fat, huffing-&-puffing-down-the-court, also missing-the-ball basketball player.

      • January 20, 2012 8:40 pm

        Yeah, I tend to step on people’s jokes a lot. Not intentionally. Somehow this relates to the fact that I was rotten at taking aptitude tests because I always thought well past the straight-forward question. All of a sudden “Sally” was no longer on a train to Boston traveling 80 mph that will arrive in Chicago by 10, but on a train to Boston that could possibly turn into a jet. I should’ve just answered C and played it safe.

        Poor Peg. I don’t know which pathetic kid is worse. My stick figure ensured I was completely androgynous until I was at least 17. Dating was fun.

      • January 21, 2012 11:10 am

        I HATED those kinds of questions. You didn’t know if the test-writer was being devious, or you were being overly analytical. I guess it just means that you have a fabulous brain that’s always working overtime, right?

        It seems like all the girls who ended up with the cute figures were stick figures to start. It was hell to get boobs when nobody else had them, especially when they were accompanied by a round tummy.

        I guess the grass is always greener on somebody else’s body.

      • January 21, 2012 2:15 pm

        Back then I would compare myself to a cross between Dickens’ Tiny Tim and the singer Tiny Tim.

        I once knew a kid who grew green grass from his belly button. Is this relevant to mention? Sure it is.

      • January 24, 2012 8:57 am

        Seriously? That’s an amazing party trick. Might say something about his personal hygiene, but still…amazing.

  12. January 19, 2012 8:10 pm

    I must have blocked out that Square Pegs was only on for one season. Now I must spend the rest of the night weeping for what was lost.

    • January 20, 2012 9:17 pm

      I will be weeping right along with you while I sing through my tears the song that has been branded on my heart since 1982: “Square Pegs, Square Pegs! Square! Square! Pegs!”

  13. January 19, 2012 9:09 pm

    I get so sick of my kids complaining, “That’s not fair” when they think we’re treating them differently. They just don’t understand we love them both, but the quantities of love are much, much different.

    • January 20, 2012 8:48 pm

      I don’t want to play favorites with your children either but Fonz has my vote, purely on the basis of his phenomenal writing skills.

  14. January 21, 2012 6:40 am

    After reading this post I have come to the conclusion that you are actually me.

    We lived in Orlando when I was seven. Mere miles from Disney. We only went once the entire time we lived there (almost 2 years) All I remember is the monorail and that we parked in the Minnie Mouse lot and I bought my mom a mug with the castle on it.

    Also, Faith No More. “Yooooou want it allll but you can’t have it! yeah yeah yeah!” Yeah I can’t have the entire song uninterrupted on my mix tape because of some boneheaded DJ blabbing. I also used to tape stuff off the TV and still have one of those old tapes of my brothers yapping in the background…you can ever hear my dog barking. Classic stuff.

    And finally, Square Pegs!!! YES! It wasn’t a hallucination. My husband is going to buy me a DVD of the only season. Whatever happened to those girls?! (not SJP, we all know she married Ferris Bueller…)

    • January 21, 2012 9:11 am

      Square Pegs was the best! I gotta look for that DVD. When I met the band Nelson (my former teen idols) I peppered them with questions about their sister, who played Valley Girl “Jennifer” on Square Pegs. I loved her! Much later she was on Seinfeld (she played Jerry’s female twin that George dated) and then the Father Dowling Mysteries. I think I would’ve been more star-struck by seeing her than her brothers.

      We lived in Winter Park and Winter Haven, Florida (oddly, both “Winter” something). What about you? I’ve never been to Disney World but I grew up hearing my family talk about all of their memories there. :(

      When I wrote this post, I spent the rest of the day singing Epic around the house “It’s it…What is it…It’s it…What is it…” I drove myself up the wall.

  15. January 23, 2012 8:57 pm

    That horse drawing is now in the Smithsonian. So there!

  16. January 26, 2012 1:48 pm

    “Square Pegs, square pegs, square, square pegs!” How do they let genius like that fade away?!

    • January 26, 2012 4:17 pm

      The theme song was so catchy it made my heart quicken with every beat. It’s a tragedy that the show was gone so soon. I think we should be demanding answers.

  17. March 13, 2012 3:27 am

    You are talented!

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