(This was me in middle school. #veryfirstprofilepic) (This is me now… I feel like I look a little older)
This question is posed in a variety of ways, but usually says the same thing: “So are you excited to be starting high school?”; “Are you in this b’nai mitzvah class too?”; “You’re in sixth grade right?” Let me just say the answer to all of these questions is NO. I generally go with the nice, “Oh, no, I’m actually going into my senior year of high school/freshman year of college/sophomore year of college/junior year of college. You’re thinking of my brother,” while on the inside I try to convince myself that we are in public and it would be inappropriate for me to claw your face off. I’m sure in a few years I’ll look back on this time and be jealous of people always thinking I was younger than I am, but, despite what all my parents’ friends and bosses tell me, I will not be persuaded that coming off as a middle schooler is EVER a good thing. Middle school is when everyone is going through their awkward stages – people have braces, try too hard to be cool, wear way too much Axe body spray, and are generally just failing miserably in the looks department. I do not want to be compared to these people! In middle school I wore brown goucho pants at the same time as I wore a brown monkey sweatshirt, for Christ’s sake – there’s a reason I don’t dress like that anymore!
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, come on, you’re a college student, there is no way people actually ask you if you’re having a good time in middle school. It’s just not possible.” Ah, well dear friend, this is where you are mistaken, for I have done the so-called impossible. I have broken the boundaries of age! Clearly, I am a magician. Or just a very unfortunate college student. Probably the latter. You’re still probably skeptical so let me paint a little picture for you: The year is 2012. I have just completed my first year of college. It is the morning of my brother’s eighth grade graduation. My mom, my dad, my brother, and I are piled into the car on our way to drop him off before finding a parking space and some seats on folding chairs in his gym where it will be nearly impossible for us to see more than the tall kid sitting in front of my brother. Having been in situations where there is a plethora of middle school aged students before, I knew the inevitable was coming. “I swear to god,” I stated bluntly, “if one parent asks how I liked middle school, I’m going to punch someone.” My parents laughed. “Oh sweetie, nobody is going to do that,” my mother said confidently. “Just you wait,” I told her. After the ceremony, I, of course, was roped into helping my parents run the post-graduation party. It wasn’t long before the unavoidable question was asked. I was standing at the burger condiment tent with my mom when another parent came over and began talking to her. My mom mentioned that she had one student at the school and another who was in college. Then my mother turned to fix the tomatoes and the woman addressed me: “So are you excited to start at the high school?” My mother burst into silent laughter (the kind where your eyes start to water) and I shot her a death glare like none other. After I explained to the woman that I had actually already graduated from there a year earlier, she responded with the generic, “Oh, I’m so sorry! You know, I thought you looked a little mature (gotta throw that compliment in there) to be in middle school. I’m just no good at telling ages.” (The other varieties of this response are “Wow, no more wine for me” and “I’m so stupid! Of course you’re not their age, you’re much too beautiful.”) Yeah, bullshit, ladies. This problem is easily avoidable with a simple, “Where do you go to school?” I don’t understand what is so hard about that. Take a hint, all you people who can no longer tell when someone is in college or in middle school (it’s a 4 year difference at a time when physical change occurs rapidly, maybe you should get your eyes checked), just ask if you don’t know. Because next time it happens, I will probably not be able to contain myself, and your plate of nicely-cut-bat-mitzvah-reception-fruit is getting violently thrown on your hideous matching dress and sweater combo.