A Requiem for an Ugly Duckling

Sometimes it takes a while to notice big sweeping changes in the universe. We don’t always see what’s happening right in front of our noses as it happens. If you are one of those folks who can taste the flavor of change before it happens a decade ago, then I applaud you. I for one prefer bumping into epiphany at the grocery store.

I bumped into it 137 times tonight — clusters of giggles and long, golden hair. Wads of teenaged girls scuttled from aisle to aisle with wearing nothing but high heeled boots, dental floss and shopping baskets.

Since when did the grocery store turn into a pubescent fashion runway?

Gaggles of gorgeous young teenagers with tan legs up to their throats and glistening straight, white teeth flounced in every direction. It left me baffled.

“Since when did all of the teenaged girls turn into fashion models?” I shuffled my goods to “Briana” the gal at the checkout counter. She scanned my dinner and shrugged. “It’s the internet.”

Her reply was nearly rote, as if this had been a common place question. “Girls don’t go through that awkward phase anymore.”

The sage clerk’s words struck true, deep. Disco. She nailed it. I appraised the scene, hoping to find some knock-kneed, pizza-faced girl in the set. Not a one.

I remember puberty arising from the depths and displaying the dominant awkward genetics in the worst possible ways. At age 11, that awkward phase reared it’s angry acne-laden face (I was told I would outgrow it by the time I turned thirty. Six years later, I can still hope). My boobs back then resembled something out of a post-modern cubism book. My teeth had about as much motivation to conform as an backpacker in Europe. My coordination resembled that of a drunken gazelle.

No one taught me how to smile for cameras, a problem I still wrestle with on the daily.

So when did teen girls steamroll through puberty and start completely circumnavigating the weirdest part of life?

Braces have given way to Invisalign, the ninja of orthodonture. Advances in zit cream have landed them on the endangered species list. And there are stores specifically designed to hide the fact that no two adolescent boobs are alike.

I pity these young beauties, I really do. Where are they going to find their character? Me, I was reliant upon mine. I can’t remember a day I went without my charming siren’s call of a hyena laugh or my ability to rebound from a face plant while standing completely still. Or singing loudly after realizing I farted in panic when someone looked me in the eye.

I am still reliant on singing loudly.

When I grow up, I want to be a 13 year old in 2016. They are hip. They have YouTube tutorials on how to do your makeup or say the right thing or know the best way to smile when someone holds up a camera.

Still completely befuddled, I got home and asked my teenaged nephews if they’d noticed how many adorable teens graced the earth these days. “Damned straight,” one of them said, his feigned cool words stumbled over drooling lips.

“How are you surviving with that?”

The other one, in all severity squeaked, “you have no idea.”

Poor things.