The Year I Began to Figure Out Who I Was

My Real Memoir

The only thing I knew for sure when I started 6th Grade was that I was a dreamer. Most boys, it seemed, were drawn to physical things, games and sports. But not me. I let my head lead. True, I loved trampolining and playing kickball, but my head was so full of stories, images and sounds, that I just had to let them out. I doodled incessantly. Even took a mail order “How to Draw” course (but quit because I wanted to draw the pictures in my head). Still, my 5th Grade teacher had noticed, and offered to whisk me off to Japan to become a “serious artist.”

I’d said no because I wasn’t sure who or what I was yet.

I also loved writing. I read nonstop, often straight through the weekend, and wanted to tell stories like Jack London, Mark Twain and Jules Verne. I’d read my stories aloud in class, and gotten addicted to praise. Which led me to consider becoming a movie star. Or a pop star. In my head, I would sing “Moon River” to Audrey Hepburn or “Maria” to Natalie Wood, and they would turn to Play-Doh in my hands.

Movies! I was in love with movies! West Side Story and Breakfast at Tiffany’s had come out that year, and the glimmer of an idea that I might someday make movies grew a little brighter.

And then there were girls.

I was obsessed with the way they looked, the way they smelled (way better than boys), and the way I felt around them. And when puberty hit, even deeper desires began to bubble up. Just what those desires were, I wasn’t sure yet, but I was determined to find out. Only a year before, I’d still thought girls had the same working parts as boys–my cousin Frankie had expertly explained how ladies “pooped out” babies, but I was skeptical.

A few pioneering sixth grade boys had, they bragged, actually “kissed a girl!” Kissing, yes! Even more than kissing Debbie Reynolds, I dreamed of kissing Melinda Ardman, who’d been my secret crush since 4th Grade. I’d planned to walk with her on the 6th Grade field trip to L.A.’s historic Olvera Street. But then, when we were on the bus, my buddy Rory yelled, “Mitch Teemley’s in love with Melinda Ardman!” and I shouted back, “No, I’m not. I hate her guts!”

Cue head beating against wall.

I had a chance to redeem myself at the 6th Grade Dance when “Let’s Twist Again” blasted out of the loudspeaker. I debonairly twisted my way over to Melinda, grinning irresistibly…and then got a stitch in my side and had to run out of the Cafetorium to throw-up.

Was it too late to move to Japan?

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to The Year I Began to Figure Out Who I Was

  1. Pingback: The Jesus Lady | Mitch Teemley

  2. A totally enjoyable read, Mitch! Once again, you’ve encapsulated life / the tween-teen years in your own inimitable style.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Rebellious says:

    Very enjoyable post to read! Definitely inspiring me to explore more of my interests and experiment with new things. Also, I think many people can resonate with the ‘boys vs girls’ mentality we had when we were younger

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Mitch, your writing style permits readers to feel the awkward coming-of-age tensions, emotions, and questions of that era. It is intriguingly strange how the power of story can transport one back to a specific long-forgotten moment in our own life. When complete you are going to have a fascinating memoir. Thanks for sharing the vignettes of your life.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. ejstoo says:

    Kind of creepy a teacher offering to take you to Japan, unless joking or related. I’m not sure how your parents would have felt about that.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. revruss1220 says:

    I can relate to SOOOO much of what you write here. Except I was much more the sports-oriented guy than the dreaming and writing type. It was fun, but never really materialized into much… unlike your inclinations. So let me guess… your cousin Frankie went on to become a renowned OB/GYN doctor?

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Eva Ngelista says:

    Do you ever wonder what your life would have been like, had you played George Peppard’s role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s…??

    Many, many years ago, I persuaded my ex boyfriend to record a video of me, for an application as a VJ for MTV London – and the girl who got the job over me then dated Daniel Craig for many years… that could have been MY life LOL

    Liked by 3 people

  8. You make those young-life miseries delightful to read.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Ah, the 6th grade. I had Mrs. Sable who was a kind and wonderful teacher. Mrs. Sable was assigned all the very worse 6th graders as far as discipline and social and mental problems went. There were a bunch of really rotten kids in that class. I wondered why I was put in Mrs. Sable’s class with these savages. Then I figured it out…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve had a few moments like that . . . where I’ve wanted to move away or, better yet, dig a hole in the ground and miraculously disappear! Love your headline too . . . “The Year I Began to Figure Out Who I Was.” Does that mean you’ve figured it all out? Please tell?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. murisopsis says:

    Yep. I was the “little red-haired girl” and all the boys were too afraid of my hair and my brains to talk to me. It wasn’t until I’d graduated that one of the “I hate you – you’ve got cooties” boys confessed that they has a crush on me… if only I’d known!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. c.f. leach says:

    My friend you are a storyteller indeed. Imaginings….

    Liked by 2 people

  13. rwfrohlich says:

    Ah, those memories of awkward awakenings. One evening, at a Saturday night dance, I offered to get a Coke for some young lovely. I bought two bottles, (they cost eight cents each!) and nonchalantly carried them in one hand across the room. I decided it would look cool to take a sip, which I did; I tipped one bottle into my mouth, and spilled the other all over my shirt. Mr. Cool indeed!
    I was in the Army in France when Breakfast at Tiffany’s came out. It made me homesick for New York.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. So hard to find our way at this age! We can all relate I am suture sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Nancy Ruegg says:

    I suppose we all had our “Can-I-move-to-Japan?” moments. But at the time it felt as though we were the only ones and everybody else had it all together. I’m so glad that period of life was/is relatively short! (Then again, I created an embarrassing moment just this morning!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This has been one of my favourite blogs of yours, Mitch. Absolutely HOWLED laughing and boy, did I need that today. Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. simba frank says:

    I admire your courage Mitch very few man can tag their crush on the internet lol. Plus moving to Japan alone as a 5th grader doesn’t sound like a bad idea

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: I Was (Almost) a 12-Year-Old Star! | Mitch Teemley

  19. Robyn says:

    Which Jules Verne stories did you read as a 5th grader? I have been looking in vain for Verne’s illustrated stories for young readers to read to my grandchildren.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Mysterious Island, From Earth to the Moon — all because I’d seen movie adaptations first. How old are your grandchildren? I ask because when I was younger I read abridged versions. The unabridged versions can bog down for younger readers (Verne often includes pages and pages of encyclopedic details).

      Liked by 1 person

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