Here's some advance warning for all of you who have been keeping up with the anniversary celebrations that are happening all month long. We're about to enter the teen years of my life, and let's just say that they had the same trajectory as a boomerang. They started off wonderfully, sort of hit rock bottom at the middle, and ended off on a fantastic note. So, as we inch closer to the Victoria Day weekend here in Canada, it's going to be a rough ride.
You have been warned.
Anyway, here we are at the beginning of this really confusing time in my life. The teen years. Year Number Thirteen. And, I have to say, thirteen was a definite godsend after the very awkward twelve. My voice had finally started to change for the better, and I was beginning to improve my fashion sense - or so I thought I was. It was 1994, after all, when everybody was dressed in their finest grunge.
I still had the face full of zits though. Those wouldn't go away until my twenties. Clearasil, you lie. You lie like a rug!
So, unlike last year, I actually do have a photograph of me taken when I was thirteen...
...and, yeah, this grad photo did not turn out well at ALL! This is probably one of the reasons why very few photos exist of me in my early teenage years. So awkward. And, yeah, just to clarify, our grad photos were taken in April, so I was still technically thirteen when this was shot.
What else was going on in pop culture that week? Let's go back to May 1994 to find out.
#1 SONG THE WEEK OF 5/18/1994
"The Sign" - ACE OF BASE
Oh, yes, this is what ABBA might have looked like had they started their career in the 1990s. But yet, 1994 seemed to be the year where Swedish dance groups took over the airwaves in a big way. Well, at least in North America, they did for about five years before disappearing into the Stockholm night.
#1 AT THE BOX OFFICE THE WEEK OF 5/18/1994
Two things I am reminded of when I see this film. First, it was the final film of actor Brandon Lee, who died in a freak accident in 1993 while on the set. Second, one of my sister's friends made me a T-shirt with the image of the main character on the front of it...and it ended up becoming one of my favourite T-shirts - I wore that thing until it fell apart. Oh, I wish I had a picture to show you because it turned out beautifully!
#1 TELEVISION SHOW OF THE 1994/1995 SEASON
The show about nothing was the #1 show of the year...and, while everyone at school seemed to watch it, it was one show that I could never get into. I preferred to watch "The Simpsons" instead.
(SIDE NOTE: Can you believe that Harry Shearer has decided to quit the show after 26 seasons? What will the show be like without Flanders, Burns, and Skinner? Oh, I don't want to even think about that!)
Okay, so now we get to the feature presentation of the blog, and it has to do with my athletic ability. Or, rather, my lack of athletic ability.
Let me explain something to you. When it came down to the eighth grade, it was without a doubt my best year by academic standards. I had tried really hard in class, I had all my assignments done on time, and I earned the faculty award for English - which I suppose makes sense, given that I had aced every single spelling test that I was ever given except for one. Even to this day, the word convenience trips me up if I'm not thinking about it.
And certainly my report card at the end of the year seemed to show this as I had gotten either an A or an A+ in every subject.
Every subject except one, that is.
Physical education. C-.
Now, admittedly, I was absolutely annoyed at this because I had always wanted to get a perfect report card, and my lone C- completely kept that dream from ever taking place.
Oh, it's not like I didn't try to improve my grade in gym. Heck, my teacher even suggested that I should try joining a couple of sports teams that played games during our lunch hour, and that if I did that, it would improve my gym mark significantly.
Yeah, gym teacher lied. He lied like a rug. Unless, of course, my original gym grade was actually an F. In that case, good job, teach!
So, ultimately, the challenge then became...what sport would I sign up for? I was not very good at any of them. I signed up for basketball, and spent most of the time on the bench. I signed up for floor hockey, and spent most of the time at the goalie net. I signed up for three-pitch, and I kept striking out.
I was beginning to think that I wasn't good at anything sports related, and I was just going to give up completely.
That is until I saw that the school was offering a brand new sport that I had never played before.
Now, of course, I knew what volleyball was. I saw them playing the sport in the Summer Olympics of 1992, and I do remember watching an episode of "Saved By The Bell" years ago that seemed to have volleyball as the main plot.
But, to be honest, I didn't really know how to play volleyball. All I know is that you take a ball, and you hit it across a net, and try to keep it from hitting the ground. But as I quickly learned, it was a lot more complicated than that.
Fortunately, I will say this about my volleyball team that I was on. I loved every single one of those guys and gals. You see, everyone who signed up was divided up into teams of nine (six on the floor, and three rotating alternates), and these teams were made up of the kids between grades five to eight. So, the teams were made up of kids between the ages of ten and fourteen.
In my case, I was one of two eighth graders to be on my team. The rest were fifth and sixth graders. You might consider that to be a disadvantage, but it worked out great. See, when I was in seventh and eighth grade, I admit that I preferred the company of fifth and sixth graders rather than the company of my own classmates. Part of the reason could have been because by the end of elementary school, I was ready to distance myself from the lot of them, but another part was that the younger kids didn't seem as judgmental or cruel as the ones that were my age.
That's always been my style. I get along with people at least 10 years older than I am, or 10 years younger than I am...but people my exact age, I cannot relate to at all. Have always been that way, for whatever reason. Maybe that's why I'm still single.
Anyway, I'm rambling. Back to volleyball.
It took me a while to feel things out. I learned what a bump, a set, a spike, and a volley was, and admittedly I didn't do too badly with any of those in practice sessions.
But serving the ball over the net? That took time. Each time it was my turn to serve the ball, I never quite gave it enough power and I kept hitting it below the net (which of course, you can't do). But you know, my team was surprisingly understanding about it, and we certainly had plenty of players who could serve with the greatest of ease.
Of course, it certainly didn't really help my self-esteem out any when it came time for me to serve, and the opposing teams were purposely moving towards the net, anticipating that my serve would completely suck. In fact, I seem to remember one nasty little brat purposely sitting down on the floor while I was preparing to serve, and making all sorts of nasty comments - you know, the kind of comments made by incredibly egotistical and cocky people?
Well, after having to face him for a couple of games, and him not relenting, I decided that I had enough. I decided that I would shut him up permanently and hit that volleyball with so much force, I didn't know where it would end up.
It not only cleared the net easily, but it was aimed directly at the cocky young man who was completely unprepared for the fact that yes, the fat kid could serve and serve quite well! I scored the point, and everyone on my team just stared at me in complete shock.
Mind you, that point wasn't enough to win the game that day, but it made me feel proud. You see, even though I had a hard time nailing the serve in volleyball, each time I tried it, I got better at it. And while the comments of Kid Cocky probably drove me over the edge that day, in subsequent games, I never did one miss a volleyball serve. In fact, I got quite good at the game. To this day, I consider volleyball as the one and only sport that I consider myself an athlete in.
It's a wonder I didn't try out for the high school volleyball team. I probably could have done quite well. But as this retrospective continues, you will see that it wasn't in the cards.