I guess I must be pretty one-dimensional these days. But there’s so much more to me than just Bad Mommy. I used to have a life once, and, because of it, I have A Past.
[MUSIC UP: DRIVING COUNTRY ROCK INSTRUMENTAL – JOHNNY CASH?]
But hang on – I didn’t say a SORDID past. I was a pretty good girl.
[CUE MUSIC CHANGE: "LEAVE IT TO BEAVER" THEME]
Okay, the mood is set. A story. From my past.
Well, did you know that I was a graphic design student? Sounds a lot cooler than it was. But I suspect I may have been the school’s sacrifice to the Coolness Gods, because I was definitely a geek, even by 1983 standards (which were rock-bottom low).
I moved into my new dorm room one warm Sunday afternoon in October, long after the other kids had moved in, established alliances, made lists of whom they planned to sleep with, started working through the lists, pronounced the whole experience "boring," and begun paying attention in class. I had foolishly thought I could go to college and continue to live at home with The Parentals, with a short commute and full laundry and meal privileges.
By October it was time to move on.
So I signed up for one of the three available beds left on the Chico State campus, and packed my bags.
My new roommate would be J.P. I showed up on J.P.’s doorstep with a suitcase and a typewriter in hand. She had no idea she was getting a new roommate (her old one had a bad start and left school). So the poor girl answered the door (in her bathrobe) to Chico State’s own Geek.
Everyone was very nice and welcoming, and for the first few days nothing unusual happened. I let my guard down and began to relax. I put up my Mick Jagger poster. I hung my fatigue pants neatly in my unremarkable standard-issue armoire.
And then I was accused.
Accused is maybe too strong a word -- maybe. I was sitting in the upstairs lobby of our brand-spanking new South Hall (yet to be named Mechoopda Hall, I believe) with my roommate and her boyfriend, pretending to study. Suddenly our concentration was broken as John V., nicknamed Old Six-pack Nose, glided down the hall on his skis, stopping next to us.
"Hey, you're her, aren't you," he said, stubbing a finger toward me. Now, I was not trained to respond to such a . . . question? A zillion smart-ass comments pinged around in my brain, any of which could easily have gotten me pounded by this rather Neanderthal man on skis before me.
I was not brilliant. "Who?"
One or two rounds of this kind of blather, and then Old Six-pack Nose dropped his bomb.
"You're Cindy Brady."
Now, I have always been MOSTLY blond, but I have never had a lisp, or boing-boing piggy tails. I couldn't imagine what could have made anyone think I resembled Susan Olsen. Or why she'd be living in South Hall at Chico State, wearing fatigues and pretending to study in public. Apparently the rumor du jour involved Susan Olsen, of "The Brady Bunch" fame, enrolling in Chico State. Slow news day.
Still -- and this should indicate just how much of a geek I was -- I was flattered.
It took several weeks before I was sure I had convinced O6-PN that I was just a geek. But ultimately I was pretty convincing.
Stay tuned for more stories of my past, including (but never limited to) tales of illicit drug use! And of brushes with the law! And of braces as an adult!
[MUSIC UP: "PURPLE HAZE" AND FADE]