Today I was working in a public place when I was suddenly surrounded by a gaggle of giggy 13 year old girls. Pretty soon, a couple of surly 13 year old boys joined the gaggle and they became a full on group.
I was instantly transported back 27 years to when I was 13. Listening to the girls whisper to one another and the boys sort of grunt, I got a pit in my stomach remembering how embarrassing and miserable it was to be 13. I absolutely hated being 13. (I really hated being most ages between 12 and 22, but 13 was especially horrible.)
The personalities haven't changed much with the Alpha Girl taking charge. She wasn't necessarily the prettiest of the girls, but she was the loudest and the most confident. There was her Number Two close by her side, ready to give the oft-needed, "I know!" and "Totally!" A couple quiet, mousy girls rounded out the gang (that would have been me).
The boys were fairly normal, but the Ring Leader seemed to be the smallest - albeit cutest - boy in the pack.
The mating rituals haven't changed much over the years, except now they use technology instead of the paper notes we used to pass back and forth. (Do you like me? Do you like like me? Do you want to go out with me? Check any and all boxes that apply.)
Honestly, the Alpha Girl said, "Siri, does Brendan like me?"
A boy I assume was Brendan said, "Uhh, I'm sitting right here." Number Two Girl is Instagram-ing the entire display and uploading it to her Facebook page. She even took a quick video.
Finally, the Ring Leader's friend said, "This conversation is really awkward."
Alpha Girl screeched, "It is not!"
Yes, sweetie, it is. Oh God, I feel sick to my stomach remembering painful conversations like these. I was always a wall flower unless I found the nerve to have a conversation, then I was quickly promoted to the Queen of Awkward Conversations. I remember saying the dumbest things when a boy entered the group. I was completely at a loss what to talk to boys about and how to behave so that they wouldn't think I was a total idiot. I failed miserably. Needless to say, nobody checked any of the boxes on my notes. I always got the write in: "You're a good friend."
I knew I should stop listening to these kids and give them their privacy, but I thought that maybe now as a grown adult, I could analyze what the Alphas do and say and that way I could help Gomer and Adolpha transition through this time better than their mother did.
After listening for a few more minutes, I realized it was hopeless. Thirteen is just an incredibly tough age and no matter how cool you are, you still sound hysterical. My children have no hope. They'll have to slog through like the rest of us.
So instead, I just wrote down their conversation for a giggle.
Alpha Girl: Oh my gosh, Brendan, I met your ex girlfriend yesterday. She's sooo cute. I can't believe you broke up with her. Who are you going to go out with now?
Brendan: She was too needy.
Alpha Girl: Eww. I hate needy people.
Alpha Girl: So, who are you going to out with next?
Brendan: I don't know.
His friend (laughing): Yes you do!
Brendan: Shut up, Mike.
Alpha Girl (to the friend): You're immature. I know it's me.
Brendan is silent.
Alpha Girl (to her wall flowers): You guys could talk you know. You guys are so quiet.
Wall Flower 1: Shh...I know I can talk. I just don't want to. This conversation is sooo awkward.
Mike: Whoa. This just got real. We need to make this more interesting.
He starts texting. I think to Brendan, because Brendan's phone chimes instantly.
Brendan reads his text and smiles slyly. (I wish I could see the texts!!)
Alpha Girl: This is so awkward. You invited me here. What do you want to talk about? (Is "awkward" a bonus vocabulary word this week at school or something??)
Brendan: I don't know. I just thought I could see what you're like.
Alpha Girl: You know what I'm like. I'm like this. Right, guys? (she says to her friends - they all nod in sync)
Brendan: I'm going to text you.
Brendan texts for a long time while Alpha Girl fills the silence.
Alpha Girl: I love my puppy. Do you love my puppy? Do you know Kylie? Do you know Grace? Do you know Emily? (Mike mimics her.) You're being mean, Mike. (When she doesn't get an answer from Mike, she turns on Wall Flower 1) You're being awkward, Adrienne.
Her phone chimes. She reads the text. She's not happy.
Alpha Girl: If this is what you think, you should go away, Brendan.
She shows the phone to Number Two who also looks irritated. Brendan stands up to go.
Alphan Girl: No wait, don't go! I'm sorry I'm bad at this. I'll talk! I'll talk! Do you guys remember my friend, Kelsey? (silence from the group while everyone checks their phones) Oh my God, answer me!
Mike: Yes! I've heard of her before.
Alpha Girl: OK, OMG, don't yell at me.
Mike: How about I whisper? What about her?
Alpha Girl: She wants to go out with Sean.
Mike: Not gonna happen.
Alpha Girl: Why not?
Mike: Because that's not what we're here for. Sean can handle his own business. We're here about you and Brendan. You guys...talk.
Alpha Girl: I've never heard you talk out loud before at school.
Brendan: I don't have much to say.
Alpha Girl: I scream all day when I'm with my friends.
Brendan: I don't believe that, because you're like so quiet today. You're not talking at all.
Alpha Girl: Should I scream?
Brendan: No, not in the middle of right here. No that would be awkward. Haha.
Mike: OMG. You guys are pathetic! This is so awkward for all of us to hear.
Wall Flower 2: Let's go across the street and play grocery store tag.
Brendan: Yeah. That's a lot of fun. Girls against guys.
Alpha Girl: You're not going to be on my team?
Brendan: No. I want to be with Mike.
Alpha Girl: Since you're being awkward, I'm going to call Jared and tell him to come. I'll be on his team.
Half an hour later, I had nothing done, except I'd transcribed their conversation. It was like a fascinating soap opera that I couldn't stop watching.
Now I want to find these kids again, because I have some questions that have been keeping me up at night:
- Who is Brendan going out with now?
- Alpha Girl, you should ask Siri about Mike, because he's giving some serious signals that he'd like to be your partner for grocery store tag and he can carry on a conversation without being awkward.
- Did Jared show up for grocery store tag?
- Did he know he was being used to (hopefully) make Brendan jealous? Did he care?
I was so relieved to hear that they talked about the same boring (awkward) things we did when we were kids. I HOPE my kids are this awkward (and funny) when they're 13. I've heard so many news stories about how 13 year olds are partying and having sex and going wild. Not these kids...unless "grocery store tag" is code for "group sex party."
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