I remember being really surprised when I first went to BYU by the amount of people who declared how much they hated their high school experiences. They all complained about pettiness and immaturity and boredom and torture they suffered through for four long years. I couldn’t believe it, because I absolutely ADORED high school. Oh sure, it wasn’t all great. I went through a lot of the normal “finding yourself” crap that 14-18 year olds do. And sometimes my classes were stressful, and sometimes I had to deal with people drama, but overall 1997-2001 were some of the best years of my life. I was in a perma-stage of ugly-duckliness and I tended to be loud and way nerdy. But I’ve never loved myself more or had more confidence than in my high school years. And I had amazing friends from all walks of life and from every school clique that existed.
I look back at my Senior year with particular fondness. I knew everyone, my friendships were firmly established, and my teachers all loved me so I could relax and really have fun with all my school projects. (Oh, who am I kidding? I always had fun with school projects. Maybe I’ll dedicate a post to that topic another day.) Anyways, my favorite teachers were Tad and Wag. They team-taught our English and CWP (contemporary world problems) block class. One of our major graded projects that year was to put together a music video to any song of our choice. I have no idea what we were supposed to learn from this project, but I threw myself into doing it wholeheartedly anyways.
Mel and I had that class together, and as usual we made sure we were on the same team and took over the entire project. We picked the song and came up with the concepts and then just bossed the rest of our group into doing what we wanted. We chose “What the World Needs Now” as our song, and our idea was to show random acts of love all over the school. We made our group members run up to random kids and give them hugs in the hallways. We secretly videotaped all of the “famous” couples in our grade. We filmed a shot of our two friends, Foster and Trent, awkwardly running towards each other in “slow motion” and finally meeting up in a totally homoerotic embrace. Then after compiling all that golden footage, the best idea of all came to Mel and I. I don’t really remember who came up with the original idea, but no matter because we both took it and ran with it.
Our school had a huge field outside between the parking lot and the middle school next door. The field was often muddy since we live in the good old Northwest, where it rains 8 ½ months per year. It had rained the whole day we were filming our music video, so the field was freshly muddy. We decided it was A GREAT IDEA to put on our gym clothes and film the two of us getting into a mud-wrestling match and then hugging and making up afterwards. The idea sounds good right? Funny and maybe even a little bit hot to watch? Um, yeah-- if you believe that’s how it turned out then you don’t know me at all AND you obviously haven’t read any of my previous posts on this blog.
Let me set up the scene completely for you. Mel and I did not have cute little shorts and cute tight t-shirts for P.E. Instead, we both wore oversized men’s t-shirts and gross baggy sweat pants. Mine were pukish yellow and also a teensy bit MC-Hammerpants’ shaped if I recall correctly. Also Mel and I, although very cute girls, were far from the “cheerleader” type girls in our grade. We were both pasty white and slightly plump. So instead of the fantasy-like scene you may envision when you hear “girls” and “mud wrestling,” we were just two crazy, badly dressed, fattish girls rolling and sliding around looking like idiots throwing mud at each other.
The kicker to all of this is that our school was built on what used to be farm land. A farm with a lot of cows apparently, if the smell that wafted up from the ground with each fresh rain was any indication. After the filming was completed, we had to trudge through the entire school to get back to the locker rooms and change. We tracked poop-mud everywhere, and you should have SEEN the looks and wrinkled noses aimed in our direction as we took our walk of shame. We hosed ourselves down, changed into our normal clothes and then went back to class feeling slightly embarrassed about the smell, but otherwise still confident in the genius of the whole mud wrestling concept.
The real shame didn’t come until later. Another girl in our group did the editing of the music video and we didn’t see the final project until it aired in front of the entire class. It all started off well and good with our peers laughing and oohing and aahing at all the hugging and famous-couple-secret-shots. We eagerly awaited the fun reactions that were sure to be evoked by our prize scene.
But instead of robust laughter and hoots and hollers, the most awkward silence I’ve ever had to endure settled over the classroom while everyone witnessed our poop-mud escapade. I glanced around and saw dropped jaws and looks that clearly said “those girls are retarded!” Mel and I were stooped as low as we could get in our chairs without falling onto the ground by the end of the video. After it was over, we rushed to take it out of the VCR and prayed that no one would ever speak of it again.
Well, as far as I know, no one did except us. Typically, it didn’t take us very long to see the huge amounts of humor in the situation. But despite the tears of laughter we experience each time we relive the tale, we can’t help but to also cringe a little and maybe wish that we had, just that once, let the rest of our group come up with the ideas.
Oh, there’s also a small epilogue to this story. (You’ll appreciate that, Robbie). Mel never took her poop-mud clothes out of her gym locker that day. A week later she was summoned by our nazi gym teacher to the locker room office. The teacher asked if Mel’s locker was the one from which the horrible stench was emanating. Mel confirmed that it was indeed and had to endure a long, long lecture full of yelling and threats of detention while all the girls in the locker room looked on. She walked back to her locker, shoulders hunched and head down, took the horrible clothes out and then made a final walk of shame out to the school dumpster where she unceremoniously dumped them. The clothes are long gone, but our inner scars from the entire incident will remain indefinitely. Poetic, isn’t it?