On the Heelys of Defeat: The Time I was the 8th-grade Hillary Clinton
I haven’t been able to make myself write about politics since the election. Not because I don’t have anything to say, trust me, all it takes is a glass of wine and one Fox News article and I can be just as obnoxious as the next Brooklyn millennial. It’s just that, honestly, I have nothing to add to the conversation that hasn’t already been said. Which is to say, I just really, really don’t want to.
So I’m not. I’ve decided and that’s that. No word will be spoken on the 2016 election. Instead, I’m going to use this space to talk about…myself. And a much less significant, yet equally bummer-filled election: the 2003 election of Moore Middle School’s Student Council Historian.
NOTE: I’ve changed the names of anyone who isn’t me in this story, even though it’s probably not necessary because the only person who could possibly be embarrassed by it is yours truly.
In the spring of 2003, I was a girl with nothing to lose. I’d just tried out for the cheer team and I hadn’t made it. This sucked for two reasons:
1. I had been on the team the year before and was the only girl to not make it both years.
2. As is the case with most 13-year-olds, I was way too self-involved to have ever seen it coming.
But come it did, in the form of a poem that basically said, “You tried hard but we hate you, goodbye.” I guess they thought the rhyming would soften the blow of complete and utter rejection. (Months later, a new cheer coach would call my mom and let her know that the judges had made a mistake and that I actually had made the team. This has nothing to do with the story being told, but the seventh-grader in me needed you to know.) I was completely untethered. I would come home every day and sit in my room, with lights off and tears running down my face, playing “Moving On” by Rascal Flatts. If you haven’t heard it, it’s a very twangy story about a man who’s hit rock bottom and, in an attempt to move forward with his life, packs up all his shit and cuts ties with his loved ones. I could relate. My mom put up with my moping for about a month or two before gently explaining to me that a seventh-grade girl knew nothing of hitting rock bottom and that all my crying was going to accomplish was a nice bout of dehydration. I knew she was right, it was time to face the twang-filled music. I was moving on.
And so I decided to run for Historian (read: picture taker) of the Student Council. Because what better way to move on from the rejection of a few judges I didn’t know than to potentially be publicly rejected by everyone in my grade? It was risky, but I had stars in my eyes and a 5-point plan in my ELA notebook, and I’d be damned if anyone was going to stop me from being the best historian Moore Middle School had ever seen! Also, no one else was running for the position.
But the best-laid plans of mice and tween girls often go awry, and a week after the application deadline, another candidate was mysteriously allowed to enter the race: Twinsy McGee. His friends were running for other Student Council positions and he decided that anyone could point and click a camera, so why not become the historian and hang out with them at the meetings?
I knew then that I was going to have to a run a hard race. Because Twinsy McGee was the last person you’d want to go up against in an election. Sure, I was well-respected, had good grades, was involved in all sorts of clubs and organizations, and could articulate a concrete plan to improve Moore Middle School during my time as Historian. But Twinsy McGee was a twin. An identical twin who was cute and also nice, and who every single girl had crushed hard on at least once in their middle school career. In fact, I still have a note written by a girlfriend lamenting Twinsy McGee’s decision to date someone that she didn’t approve of, namely because that someone wasn’t her. The note is written on black paper with a metallic jelly roll pen and opens with a bible verse from Proverbs about a prostitute because nothing makes sense when you are in middle school. Point is, Twinsy McGee had a cool factor that I, admittedly, did not. And now he was allowed to run whatever last-minute campaign he came up with, no matter how sloppy it was or how little he cared about the position. Despite all of my hard work and preparation, I was in trouble and I knew it.
Election day came and boy was I ready. I’d straightened my hair and made sure every single bit of lunch had left my braces. I was wearing an outfit straight from Lizzie McGuire’s closet: a polka-dotted skirt with a small ruffle on the hem and a pink camisole, tucked in, with a white, darted button-down worn over it. I’d picked it out a week before the assembly and had my mom iron it the morning of. I’d even bought new shoes for the occasion, red sling-back kitten-heeled pumps. Ugly as sin but appropriate, I thought, for the office of historian. When my name was called, I approached the podium and gave a memorized speech about how passionate I was about the position. I laid out my plans for office and even ended by yelling my catchy campaign slogan: “Get lucky with Lacey!!!” Even now, I can’t understand why at least one brave adult didn’t pull me aside beforehand to inform me that I was unknowingly offering sexual favors to the entire school, but I digress. As soon as I finished, the terrible techno music I’d found on Kazaa started, and 4 friends ran out to do a dance we’d been practicing for weeks to encourage people to get to the polls. I went back to my seat knowing I’d done everything right. I’d worked hard, I’d made sure all hands were shaken and babies kissed. Now all I could do was see what Twinsy had up his sleeve.
Heelys. That was Twinsy’s game plan. When his name was called he heelied to the podium and slicked his stupid, swoopy skater hair back and smiled. And the crowd went fucking nuts. I don’t even know if he said anything — he certainly didn’t give an outlined speech. But it didn’t matter. Later, he would play “Swing Swing” by The All-American Rejects in a band campaigning for a Vice-Presidential hopeful and, as they strummed the final chords to a standing ovation, I knew my fate had been sealed.
They said it was the closest race they’d ever seen, but even then I knew it was flattery. Twinsy, ever the nice guy, teared up and gave me a hug and said he didn’t even really want it, it’s just that all his friends were running and he thought it could be fun. And I hugged him back and said it was okay because what else can you do? And life went on. Twinsy didn’t change the trajectory of Moore Middle School through his efforts as Historian but he also didn’t burn the school to the ground. I got back on the cheer team and learned to not yell solicitations into a microphone.
Yes, it sucked to be rejected. And yes, I listened to that stupid Rascal Flatts song a few more times before I finally picked myself up and put on a brave face. But I also knew I’d run a campaign worth being proud of, and I learned the hard lesson that sometimes doing the work isn’t enough to get the outcome you desire.
Because sometimes people choose Heelys over sling-backed kitten heels, and stupid, swoopy hair over a solid speech. And if those kids didn’t want to get lucky with Lacey, then that was their right. The people of Moore Middle School spoke and I lost, fair and square.
But I will say it’s their loss. Because I would have made one hell of a lady Historian.