Regrets, I’ve had a few....
Between Oprah and Behind the Music, it’s really unpopular to say that you have regrets about stuff you did or didn’t do. "It all helped make me who I am today." "I learned and grew from those experiences." Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m with you on that Life’s Journey thing. But I’m not ashamed to admit there’s stuff that, if I could, I’d call a "do-over" on.… F’instance….
Cheerleading. Talk about a waste of my time. I was convinced – hell, even my mom was convinced – that trying out for cheerleading and making it my Junior year was a big fat jolt of confidence to my riddled teenaged soul. (Don’t be impressed… remember I went to a Christian high school with 23 people in my graduating class. 12 girls tried out for cheerleading and 7 made it. Not too impressive.) And I took the whole cheer thing seriously…. I practiced cheer moves for hours a day. I sneaked to public schools’ games and stole their cheers (although with 6 out of 7 girls, myself included, who couldn’t even do a cartwheel, our talents were limited). I wore my uniform at every given opportunity; there are family photos of me at Great-Grandma’s 98th birthday party all rigged out in my black-and-gold, because I’d "had a game" before and for some reason couldn’t manage to change into a pair of jeans afterwards. (Hah. I wanted everyone in my family to think that because I was a Cheerleader, therefore I was Somebody.) I was voted Captain my senior year, and I truly believed, after being suckled on the milk of Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High paperbacks for the entirety of my teen years, that I had Achieved Something Important. If only I’d put that energy and dedication into, I don’t know, maybe PREPARING FOR COLLEGE?!
That annual Music Assembly held at my Christian high school. No, not showcasing anyone’s talents… this assembly was all about the Evils of Rock Music. Every year, the same guy would come in to "talk" to us about bad song lyrics. He’d start with all that obvious heavy-metal stuff (remember, this was 1985) and work his way into other MTV-showcased bands. He told us about "Knights in Satan’s Service" and "We Are Sexual Perverts." He told us about back-masking. He told us about Ozzy biting the heads off bats, and "I’m not playing until all those puppies are dead!" Then he segued into Prince, who was "bad" because he had just done that movie Purple Rain and had a song about masturbation…. And Depeche Mode, who were "bad" because their music was "depressing" and "that guy wears a skirt and pearls!" And finally, he landed on Duran Duran. And the second he said their name, I kid you not, the whole school turned around and looked at me. Why were Duran Duran "bad" in his estimation? First, Our Music Expert told us about his summer as a counselor at Christian Camp, where a girl spent hours crying because she heard Roger Taylor got married. Then he talked about their "bad" lyrics; namely, The Reflex, which he claimed was about masturbation. And the whole time, I’m sitting there going "This guy has no clue what he’s talking about… I have twenty-seven different interviews with Simon LeBon talking about The Reflex being about ambition!" And I can’t tell you how much I regret not raising my hand and 1) telling this guy that specifically, 2) asking him what his qualifications were for analyzing lyrics, 3) asking him how many of the songwriters had he actually talked to about what they lyrics meant, 4) pointing out to him that lyrics weren’t necessarily meant to be taken literally. But I never said a word. Worse, I felt guilty for listening to my music and even wondered if I should give it up entirely. As the guy "suggested" at the conclusion of his talk, I did end up owning a couple of Amy Grant tapes… but within a few months, they were stashed out in Grandma’s storage shed, and my Duran stuff was in heavy rotation again.
Domino’s Pizza. Man, talk about a job I held onto for far too long, out of sheer fear of The Unfamiliar. I was there for, like, five years. YEARS! From the age of 17 until I was 22, I answered phones and made pizzas. I mean, granted, I can still slap a mean pizza, which makes for an interesting party trick, and I had the occasional seasonal stint at clothes stores, too, but pizza-making was the crux of my skills. I could’ve been interning at one of the few San Diego publishers… I could’ve been a TA in the English department… I could’ve even been temping, making, doubtless, more than the eventual $4.80/hr I was raking in as a relief manager….
Watching Days of Our Lives for a couple years. This was back during the whole Steve-and-Kayla thing, and darned if I could miss a single episode! Five hours a week, with approximately 48 weeks in a year, comes to TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY hours of Wasted Life per year…. Instead of reading decent books or taking up a hobby or just generally improving myself as a person, I was seeing what was happening with the Roman-and-Diana thing or if Eve was going to torture us with another rendition of "Wind Beneath My Wings"… and this is not counting the time spent on the phone with my best friend at the time, discussing important things like Kimberly’s sucky eyeliner or the lack of reality of Jennifer somehow managing to escape a sinking ship with her diaphragm so that she and Jack could consummate their love on a deserted island. Yeah, that was worth my time.
Not getting my driver’s license until I was 18. I can fall back in part on the fact that Stepfather Number Two, never the most rational bloke, anyway, started lecturing from the time I was 14 that there was no way in hell I was going to own a car when I was living in his house because HE never owned a car when he was my age, and there was no way I was driving his car, and there was no way I was driving my mom’s car, blah blah blah TheStepfathercakes…. (Remember, this is the same guy who wouldn’t let me go to a Paul Young concert because I’d do drugs. Riiiight.) But also, I was just too weak and scared and dependant and pathetic to learn how to drive… it was so much easier to let DumbAss, my h.s.b.f., drive me places. What a dink I was.
Jenny Craig. Uh huh. This was when I was a whopping size 11, and stupid DumbAss kept complaining that "you aren’t the same girl I fell in love with," meaning I wasn’t a size 7 15-year-old anymore, but a 20-year-old with a woman’s body. So I tried those magazine diets. They didn’t work. I took aerobics classes at school. I still couldn’t shed more than 10 lbs. Frankly, I liked – and still like – food. I like to eat. I don’t like naked salads and ice water when I could be having a normal person’s meal. So I decided that the only way to return to a size 7 was to check out Jenny Craig. I didn’t have a car, so I asked my Grandma to drive me there for my "free consultation," which basically turned out to be a "look at all these fat women who lost weight! You can lose weight too! But not without us!" rah-rah fest. And then they hit me with the cost of classes, tapes, vitamins, and, especially, the food. All my meals would now come from Jenny Craig. I looked at the hundreds and hundreds of dollars they wanted, gulped and said "I can’t afford that!" Not on Domino’s Pizza money. And the chirpy "counselor" turned to my Grandma and said "Maybe you can help her out?" And I said "No!" but Grandma, the most soft-hearted person in the world, already had her checkbook out. In the course of three months, she probably spent close to a thousand dollars on the food that I couldn’t eat because it was so gross, classes that I couldn’t attend because I had work and school, vitamins that made me nauseous, and tapes that were utterly unhelpful and unnecessary. (Lest you think I was taking malicious advantage of Grandma, she had a friend at church who’d just lost 50+ pounds through Jenny Craig, so Gram thought it was the way – pun – to go for me, too….) All that money… all that bad food. I lost, like, maybe ten pounds, then plateaued hard. I would’ve been better off using that money for therapy.
The nasty "I’m Not Your Friend Anymore and This is Why" letter I sent to my ex-best friend. Chalk it up to massive insecurity. Chalk it up, in part, to the fact that I was letting my new best friend The Sycophant hold sway over my decision-making process. Chalk it up to my juvenile desire to "have the last word" or "tell you how I feel" or any of those other irrational and immature impulses that generally shouldn’t be acted upon unless you’re a guest on Ricki Lake. I certainly don’t regret the hours of introspection that went into composing the massive missive of post-teen clichés. I don’t even regret that the friendship ended. But I certainly could’ve been more mature and less negative about the whole affair. What I should’ve done is written the letter, and never sent it or let anyone read it. Because God knows, you can’t "make someone understand" anything that emotional, no matter how many really good analogies or quotes from song lyrics you use....
I generally do take a philosophical "whatever happens is meant to be"/"that which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger" look at life…. but there are some times when I can’t resist looking back at my younger Self and, shaking a finger at her, grouse "If only I’d taken advantage of my opportunities when I was your age!"
Wanna call a do-over on something? Willing to admit to a few regrets?
This person was!