Liz Lemon has done it again. Put a window on something that, in retrospect, felt close to the truth…
Last time was the reunion episode. Weeks later, when wondering idly why some people from high school still haven’t ‘friended’ me – when they had friended others. Not just ‘the popular kids,’ but even kids more off-the-grid, now FRIENDING the ‘popular kids.’ Then, the episode came back to me.
Liz was at her reunion, and discovered that she was mean in highschool. That her reverse-snubbing, her snub-or-be-snubbed was NOT invisible. That the popular kids didn’t like her because she wasn’t likable.
I laughed and payed no real attention. Thought it wasn’t one of the better episodes.
Later – much later – weeks later… **gasp** …
When you are 15-16-17, sharp-witted and imagine yourself slightly better than those around you – the prettier ones, the more together ones, the ones who aren’t so afraid of trying, of proving themselves, of fitting in… ooops.
You become Liz. Snarky, with thinly-veiled quick-witted asides that are – oops again – sarcastic and more than a little mean.
I thought then that those honor role kids just didn’t get me. The truth was something else. I just didn’t want to play. And thought I should get by on my (under-appreciated) looks and (underexercised) raw intelligence.
OK. So flash-forward. Now those same kids – the ones who tried? Who made it all important when, I, in my infinite wisdom (and 2.75 GPA) suspected it wasn’t? Those kids have kids. And their kids are in private school. And they play with my kids. My kids who are woefully unprepared.
I could list the reasons why, or how they are unprepared: mom works, mom is scatter-brained, mom is not wealthy, mom has no idea what the rules are… but the truth is this: Mom doesn’t want to play.
On last night’s 30 Rock, we saw the return of Dr.Drew Baird. (Moment of silence, please, to acknowledge my disproportionate love of Jon Hamm…) The premise was that he is so good-looking that people expect little of him, and fill him with lies. So he’s a doctor that doesn’t know the Heimlich, is awful in bed, and cannot play tennis – and has never waited in a line.
Again, good show. I laughed. I was mad that Jon Hamm was leaving again, (c’mon Liz! Do you HAVE to be the bearer of Truth?) and I laughed harder when Jack Donaghy explained The Bubble and the loss of the Bubble. I laughed ‘cuz it was funny, right? A ridiculous premise?
Oh, shit. I laughed ‘cuz it’s True!
At the risk of being exposed as more narcissistic than I feel (although I guess even narcissism has its roots in self-loathing, but I digress) – I was driving home from my son’s third grade play almost in tears and realized… ooops… I GOT IT!
Now, the almost-tears were for a number of reasons. Chief trigger was that the set looked great. I had derided the moms that made a big deal of the set – thinking that this is third grade, they are walking up to microphones, the play isn’t blocked, each character is shared by six kids, etc. And TWO of my props were rejected as inadequate, and my son’s Zukerman costume was Not Quite Right, even though we got the same Farmer Costume memo as every other mom.
The secondary trigger was the Perfect Moms who told me afterward that my son was great – Moms whose children I did not know, moms themselves whose names are filed somewhere in my back brain where they cannot be accessed as I am trying to anonymously high tail it out of a multimillion dollar performance facility (where my son just performed a walk-up-to-the-mike rendition of a play written for about 8 kids along with 59 of his closest friends.)
You see, friends, I lived in The Bubble. Because while high school may not be kind to the I-think-I-am-prettier-and-
All the sudden – for a minute, maybe, or for something like six or seven years – I was IT.
I ran in a circle with famous people for a college internship and later, I had a great job. I had loads of friends, I had loads of sex, and I had great hair. I dressed well and drove free German cars. I was connected. Professionally, personally… I felt untouchable. I flirted as I breathed. I got promoted. I worked way over my head, and I gathered in large chummy packs at the neighborhood bar in the tony neighborhood… that I walked to.
Because no one ever accused me of making things look easy, I assumed my aggressive wheel spinning and frenetic pace meant I really was working hard.
I assumed, that somehow, without actually working for it… I had earned it. I believed my press.
My eventual husband believed it, too – he would say later that his initial impression was that I was ‘out of his league,’ he imagined that I had it together – because there was so much of it, and it looked confusing to the outsider.
I was In the Bubble.
And inside, it actually was confusing. But it was contained, somewhat.
All that happened, besides growing up and getting married and having kids and folding into private schools (quite by accident, but again I digress) is that I outgrew the bubble. And now? 40, with those intrepid kids in tow … the bubble is gone.
The mess is no longer contained by the walls of the bubble, and I am exposed to the (god love him, still-with-me) husband. I am invisible among those working harder, with more qualifications and a more complete rule set. My confusion confuses them. They expect more of themselves… shoudn’t I?
Inside the bubble was better.
So, somehow? Now, I guess? It’s time to grow up. Or at least fake it a whole lot better.