It’s OK to Not Be Cool

(A re-post, because I’m feeling moony again and need to be reminded that pegs are worthy, too)




I was a moony kid. At the tender age of six or seven, I’d be found under a tree, looking through the branches at the clouds in some deep daze it took 85 mom-shouted
DEBORAHS!” to shake me out of. I read books while I walked to school, inadvertently wandering off the curb and into oncoming traffic more times then is normal even for a moony kid. As other children played hide and seek outside, I scribbled in a journal to the melodius tunes of Barry Manilow or the Carpenters. I loved playing, I did, but it’s just that I liked daydreaming more. My imagination ruled me. I fretted and fussed over phantom diseases, made my neighbors criminals or super spies, and entertained as the feisty Barbara Badump, one-half of the infamous “Badump Sisters,” that traveled the world performing interpretative dance routines to Abba — all in my mind.


You should have seen me visually express the Fame soundtrack on roller skates to a sold-out amphitheater positively packed to the gills with crabgrass and cottontails.


What wondrous times.


All this thinking and mooning and reading and clumsily performing (think two left feet) led to a certain…um, reputation. I was a dork. Class A. DORK. My pensive, booky image was not helped in the least when I had to get glasses in the fourth grade. That’s when the word, “nerd” really attached to me but good. “There’s Deb! Walking home from the library with 89 books crammed under her chin!” or “Here she comes! Let’s see if she trips into the highway on the way over!”




Don’t get me wrong. I had friends and stuff. I loved school (this isn’t helping my case, is it?) and never lacked for social interaction. It’s just that I was left of center when compared to other kids my age. Luckily, I managed to seek out other left of centers (and even found the second half of the Badump Sister duo). My childhood glowed with made-up adventures of the goony kind. Nerds rule.


So time went on. Eventually, I decided I wanted to try out for cheerleading. As a CLASS A DORK, I participated in everything, EVERYTHING in school and because the newspaper, yearbook, chorus, softball, babysitting club, forensics team, and Badump Sister Tour (always in progress) weren’t enough, I figured I should add something else to my queue of activities. The thing was…well…I wasn’t too good at most of the things I did. I just did them anyway. Such was the case with cheerleading. Except with cheerleading, you had to try out. And if people didn’t think you were good, well…you didn’t make the squad.


Here is where clumsy nerds DO NOT RULE.


I auditioned year after year after year…and never made it. No duh, I know, with the two left feet and the being a dork and the moonishness, but still I practiced. From fifth grade straight through to eighth, I recruited cheery friends to jump, split and cartwheel with me in my front yard. I tried to dance to music. I yearned to get the beat. I wanted to be a cheerleader, dammit. Really, really bad.


When it became clear that it just wasn’t gonna happen, I began to get an inkling that maybe I wasn’t going to be like the people I (at the time) really wanted to be like. My hands? Too full of books. My eyes? Too covered with glasses. My hair? Too thin for ponytails. My jump and jive? Not jump and jivey enough. My rhythm? Nonexistent.


So no cheerleading for me.


And that’s the first time I remember time I remember feeling like a big ole square peg with rectangular corners and cube-like edges.


I still feel kind of square sometimes.


But now? I’m proud to be a peg.


And if you’re a peg, be proud too. And if you’re round, be proud. Same with octangular, trapezoidal, and cylindrical.


Even if you’ll never be a cheerleader.


Even if you are.


9 Responses to “It’s OK to Not Be Cool”

  1. KiKi says:

    Loved this! Could have written every. single. word. Our moony childhoods are so similar it’s scary. Right down to the 4th grade glasses wearin’, book schleppin’, roller skating fame soundtrack extravaganza, cheerleading wannabe class A dorkdom. Just venturing a guess that you’d do “gymnastic dances” to the Grease soundtrack and loved Captain and Tenille, too? ;-P

  2. Jennifer says:

    I love this post so much, and I think that even nerds can be cool when they learn to embrace who they are. I wish we could all learn to be comfortable with ourselves at a younger age.

  3. From one moony goony girl to another–nerds rule. Hugs to you, kindred spirit.

  4. Smalltown Me says:

    The yearbook staff and drama were always kind to square pegs.

  5. Nancy says:

    Do you remember the TV show, Square Pegs? (It starred an utterly geeky Sarah Jessica Parker.) I loved that show because Sarah’s character was ME. Nerdy, geeky, unathletic, somewhat of a brainiac. :-)

    In fact, Sarah’s character is still me, for the most part. :-)

    Thanks for the post!

  6. heidi says:

    Aw, I loved this!
    I hung out with my imagination too and read a LOT. So, I could really relate to this. I had friends, I played, but I was moony for sure. Yeah, dorks!! :)
    I hope you’re well…

  7. diamond dave says:

    I used to hate the fact that my peg never quite fit comfortably anywhere. Now I embrace it.

  8. robyn says:

    Square peg here. And loving it. :) I also did almost every activity known to man. But backed out of my pursuit of cheerleading just before tryouts began. I just knew I didn’t have that cheerleader yell in me.

  9. Middle State says:

    I can relate. As a child I always preferred sitting under a tree reading a book or writing another chapter of my “novel” or, as you said, just dazing off in one of my elaborate day dreams.

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