I wish I could have called this “It’s not that serious” or “A tweet, but longer.” So much significance is placed on something you put in a book, and I don’t care much for significance. Let’s agree now that we’re just having a conversation and I happen to talk more than I listen (true in real life as well). I tend to spew my opinions until someone interrupts me, and weirdly, my computer never gained sentience to save me from myself.
There were actually several stories that my mother specifically asked me to include—mostly those rare instances in which I did something out of generosity or love or some other motivation found in emotionally normative humans. I suspect she worries I’m too abrasive and wants me to provide some indication that I’m not a terrible person. Alas, I’ve tried to be honest, because honesty makes me feel less alone, and I hope you are entertained.
Maybe I should have learned my lesson about “written evidence.” It’s possible that in ten years, every word in here will send me into fits of humiliated paralysis. But the crazy wants out. Let’s do this.
* * *
I. Okay, he didn’t actually say that last part, but it would have been perfect if he did.
a few disclaimers
I’m Not Kool
Jessica was the first person to mistake me for someone cool.
When I was in kindergarten, both of my parents worked full-time, so I went to an after-school program. Every day, a van picked up a few kids from my class and made stops at local schools around the city before driving us to the YMCA in downtown Portland, Maine.
I had recently discovered (thanks to an incident my mother and father just love to recount) that I did not make a good first impression. Over the summer, we’d been to a family campground, and while other children met and became immediate playmates, that power evaded me. I sulked for the better part of a week and eventually asked my parents, “Will you find me a friend?” I don’t get why that’s so funny. That’s basically how I feel as an adult. Will one of you guys find me a friend?
When we picked up Jessica from her school, she marched to the very back of the van—one row behind me—and tapped me on the shoulder. For a five-year-old, she was a deeply confident girl. Jessica was ready to judge her fellow passengers.
“Are you friends with anyone else here?” she asked.
My animal instincts knew she was The Alpha, and I needed to think fast to impress her.
“Oh,” I said, “Dan . . . in the front seat. I know him.”
I’d “known” Dan since eight o’clock that morning, but admitting I was friendless seemed like it would be worse than lying, so I took the risk. Then I had a terrifying thought: What if she talks to Dan next?
I continued. “I know Dan, but . . .” I leaned in. “He’s kind of weird.”
“Oooh.” She nodded her head in recognition. Being judgmental was really taking me places. She narrowed her eyes. “We won’t play with him.” If you say so, Jessica! Your alpha energy is making me feel alive!
More kids got in the van and Jessica made her assessments swiftly. By the time we arrived, she had curated a small group of girls she deemed worthy and said, “We’re going to play together. We’re the cool kids club.” Hold up, Jess—I’m in the cool kids club? I was five years old, but I already knew that wasn’t right. Just hang in there, Kendrick. Don’t mess this up!
The group decided we’d officially call ourselves the Cool Kids Club. Since kindergartners are so pressed for time, we decided to just use the initials. And since kindergartners are excellent at spelling, we called ourselves the KKK. When I proudly announced my new affiliation to my mother, she scrambled to explain that neither “Cool” nor “Club” starts with K, but I’d seen billboards for Kool cigarettes, so she wasn’t fooling me.
The next day, during outside playtime at the Y, Jessica walked straight up to Dan and yelled, “We’re not going to play with you!” She stomped off dramatically and took the rest of the girls with her.
What the hell was that, Jessica? I said the kid was “kind of weird,” I didn’t say he dismembered cats. You were only supposed to avoid him long enough that I wouldn’t be caught in my lie!
Jessica became my first enemy. Like most enemies in my life, I hoped to punish her with passive-aggressive glances and silent—but passionate!—resentment. She retaliated by forgetting I existed. Ah, the moral victory.
I Am a Very, Very Small Weirdo