A glance at the clock jarred me. I had to get changed and leave as soon as possible to make it back to the high school on time.
After donning a frumpy pink dress, I looked in the mirror. While not flattering, it didn’t reveal every roll of fat on my torso. A quick analysis of my cheeks, chin, forehead, and nose showed no new zits for once.
But then there was my hair. It hung limply around my face, still damaged from pointless junior high perms. It was oily, but there was no time to wash and dry it before the spring band concert.
I combed it, but that only accentuated the sheen. In the hopes of disguising it, I gathered my hair into a ponytail that I held together with a yellow rubber band. The band in no way matched my outfit, plus I could feel it tugging my hair and exacerbating my split end problem. But there was no time to worry about that. Besides, who would pay attention to me? Weren’t adults always assuring us teens that we are all too self-absorbed to worry about the appearance of others?
I breathed a sigh of relief when I took my seat in the trumpet section for the warm-up with minutes to spare. Our director led us through scales and then briefly reviewed trouble-spots in each tune. We were released from the stage while the other band took their places for the first half of the concert.
I probably should have supported the members of the other ensemble by finding a seat in the auditorium and listening to their performance, but I opted to follow the rest of the crowd and hang out in the band room.
I ended up in the band director’s office where some of the more popular students were gathered. I stood to the side hoping to appear nonchalant instead of desperate to be included. Band was a refuge for me. I felt like I belonged here, but that only worked sitting down and playing. Make me stand up and try to chat with the cool kids and I was the epitome of awkwardness.
From the other side of the office, one of the pretty flute players changed the topic.
“Did you see Cynthia’s hair?” she asked conspiratorially.
The group froze. Finally, one of the percussionists smirked and pointed at me. “Yeah, she’s standing right there.”
The flutist, blessed with thick, brown hair and flawless skin, had a flash of panic in her eyes.
“Oh, I’m so sorry Cynthia,” she said.
“That’s okay,” I mumbled before escaping the office.
I didn’t know where to hide. And, apparently, one does need to hide. Because the adults lied, and I should have known better. Of course, teens notice other teens, especially fat, ugly, unstylish girls like me.
Of course, I lied, too. I told that girl that I accepted her apology. The truth was I was too timid to stand up for myself.
And she lied as well. She wasn’t sorry she said it. She was only sorry that she got caught.