Nov 28, 2014

Guest Post: Going Back to Those Middle School Memories and the “Cool Table”


Going Back to Those Middle School Memories and the “Cool Table”
By Krysten Lindsay Hager 
Writing about Landry and her friends in eighth grade certainly does bring back memories for me. I can still smell the pencil sharpener in my sixth grade class room…even though I don’t remember anyone using it other than as an excuse to get up and walk around and talk to people. Writing this story puts me right back in the classroom…for better or worse. I remember what it was like to stand in the lunchroom line and how it felt to be offered, “cutsies,” to the front of the line…or to be the person left behind when everyone else got, “cutsies,” and suddenly you were at the back of the line. I think we’ve all tasted both sides of it—being the one who feels great with the group of friends laughing and joking at the lunch table as well as the kid who gets their lunch tray and then scans the room trying to find a place to sit and hoping someone will offer them a seat.
My dad recently had to go for physical therapy in a rehab center after surgery and my mom was telling me how he was hoping to find a new lunch table and how he wanted to sit with one group, but there wasn’t a spot open. I thought, seriously? Even at my dad’s age there’s a cool table?? But alas, there is. (F.Y.I. my dad did get to sit at the table with his friends, but my attempts at humor comparing my story to his situation were lost on him…rather, he was NOT amused.) 
One thing I wanted for Landry in the story, True Colors, was not so much to aspire to sitting at the “cool table,” but to be at the table with friends who really had her back—true friends and not just people to sit with in the cafeteria. I think we all just want to find our place in the world. A place where we can be accepted for who we are and not who we feel we have to pretend to be in order to fit in. I hope I accomplished this for Landry in True Colors. It took me a while to learn this lesson, but I’m finally at the “table” I feel most comfortable at and you know what? It feels like the cool table to me.

6 comments:

  1. Fantastic post and as you say something that happens in life to us all.

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  2. Thank you, Tanya. It's amazing how many shared experiences we have, isn't it?

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  3. Great post. I have to say I am currently reading True Colors with two of my students. They are girls and are both loving this story. They would love to meet Krysten one day and thank her for writing a novel that is so fitting for an age group, and who can identify with this story.

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  4. Oh thank you! I'm so glad they are enjoying the story and that would be amazing to meet with them :)

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  5. Even when we get to sit with the "cool" kids, it's a disappointment, eventually, if we mature enough to admit it. OR, there's always a "cooler" table we aspire to be invited to, so we're never satisfied.

    I made it all the way from being an outsider with braces who wasn't even allowed to stand NEAR the "cool" kids in 7th grade to the pinnacle of status and achievement in my junior high school (no middle schools, then) : I was elected to be one of only 8 cheerleaders AND President of the Pep Club in 9th grade; girls could not get higher than that in 1968. Ironically, the administrators made me choose BETWEEN these, saying that, even though I had been elected to both, I could only fulfill one post. I chose cheerleader.

    However, after a while, I could see how boring, hollow, unsatisfying it all was. I found out that I didn't like football or basketball. Not at all. Still don't.


    By the middle of 10th grade, I chose to hang out with the REAL cool kids--those in the arts, drama, music, debate--honors students/smart kids, where I really belonged.

    Next book? Write about how our perceptions evolve!

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  6. Thanks for sharing, Sally! So true how our perceptions change over time and you see where you are most comfortable. We see there's a difference between what we want and what we thought we should want. Thanks for commenting!

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