Will Breakdance for Likes

I can’t speak for everyone else (at least not until I’m elected the leader) but, for me, it’s weird that one of my closest friends has a daughter that is now the same age we were when we became friends. Is anyone else experiencing this? When did this happen?

Her daughter is 13-years-old and every time I’m around her all I can think is, time is going way too fast. OK, that’s not completely true. The other thing I think is, there’s no way I was this fucking stupid when I was 13. Impossible. She thinks filming herself underwater throwing peace signs is a talent. She once claimed she could play the ukelele, trying to prove it by showing me a video of her strumming it. Not playing a song or chords, merely strumming it. I had no other choice but to tell her that, in fact, she could not play the ukelele and she should probably not tell people she could. (Listen, it was for her own good, just keep reading)

The real kicker was when her mom (my friend) and their family came over for a BBQ and she decided to show me her latest claim to fame: dancing. Yes, thanks to YouTube she has learned every new dance there is, including one where she shook so violently I thought she had recently developed epilepsy.

“What in the fuck is she doing?”, I asked her mom. Supposedly, this was the latest dance craze. Since my viewing habits include reality TV, anything horror, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, I really couldn’t dispute this claim. What I could do was think how ridiculous she looked. How do you win friends when your dancing can possibly injure them? I just didn’t get this stupid fuc….

And then I remembered.

It turns out when I was 13 I actually WAS this stupid, maybe worse.

I, your beloved Typical Jenn, was a breakdancer.

Yeah.

I even had a breakdancing name.

Lil’ Kaos.

Fuck.

It was 9th grade and I was still trying to figure out who I wanted to be (i.e. what I wanted people to think of me). I had been a cheerleader but it was awful – the majority of the girls were assholes and I genuinely didn’t give a shit about cheering anyone on. I tried basketball but I was even worse at that. Everyone made the team except one girl and it was only because she was the slowest runner. I played softball but was mediocre at best, and by that I mean I could catch and that’s it. The worst part was I genuinely thought I could walk into these sports without ever having played them, ever practiced them, and with zero talent and be good. So you can imagine how confident I was when I tried breakdancing.

It was 1998 when breakdancing made a comeback. It was a simpler time back then. Instead of fighting (at least for that year) people would have dance battles – it was like being in a live version of West Side Story. For you younger kids it was like being in a live version of Step Up. The first time I saw one of these battles I thought, how hard can this be? I used to be a cheerleader and my cartwheels were on point. I could totally do this. THIS was the thing that was going to get me noticed.

My “in” came in the form of my friend Raul who was one of the best breakdancers in school. He taught me a couple of things like how to initiate a battle (some steps and arm movements), how to do a K-kick (I’m pretty sure I would break my arm if I tried it now) and gave me a breakdancing name: Lil’ Kaos. There were no tryouts, no auditions, no panel of judges laughing at me – at least, not in the beginning.

Now that I was officially a “breakdancer” with a new name and everything, I needed an outfit to complete the part. I begged my mom to buy me what I thought I needed to be considered legit: a red and black Adidas tracksuit. And she did.

I. Wore. That. Thing. EVERYWHERE. And I looked ridiculous.

I wish I still had it.

Oh, it’s important that I mention the only time I practiced breakdancing was when my friend taught me those couple of moves and one other time when another friend tried to show me how to do windmills. Have you ever tried to do a windmill? It’s fucking impossible, at least if you’re me. Yet, my lack of ability to even get the concept of a windmill wasn’t enough to make me say, “you know, this probably isn’t for me.” I just figured it was just ONE thing I couldn’t do.

After those two practices, I went to my first battle which actually didn’t go too bad, primarily because I only went in once, did a K-kick and a split and called it a day. I don’t think you can even call it breakdancing, but at the time that’s exactly what I called it. I was a pro, and I was ready to Step Up.

As it turned out, when you’re a breakdancer you actually DO have to go through some sort of audition at one point if you want to breakdance with the best of the best. So I put in a call to the best crew in town, who also happened to be run by a guy I had a huge crush on – AKA the other reason I tried to be a breakdancer. I invited them over to my grandma’s house (her floors were perfect for humiliating myself) for my audition. Also, I don’t know if “audition” is proper breakdancing lingo but that’s basically what it is so I’m sticking with it.

My crush and his friend arrived ready to judge my talents. I was ready, too. I had practiced a million times in my head and had nailed everything. Plus, I was wearing my tracksuit – where do I sign, boys? (Side note: I still can’t believe my grandma allowed this to take place in her home, but, as is the case with all Hispanic grandma’s, she’s all about “that way you learn.” And I did, at least when it came to breakdancing.)

We pushed the couches out of the way and my audition commenced. First, they asked me to do a K-kick. Pfft. Simple. Except my grandma’s house has very low ceilings so when I did it I managed to kick the ceiling fan chain and shook the shit out of the ceiling fan. Once that was settled, they asked me to do something closer to the ground: a crab walk.

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Like this but with both arms. I got on the ground, repeatedly tried kicking myself up until… I had it! I was balancing myself! For about two seconds, then I fell forward right onto my face. Instead of calling it a day, I sat up, gathered myself… and tried to do headspins.

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I went into a headstand only to kick up too hard and land flat on my back. I didn’t get it. Headstands were easy when I was like five. When I stood up both guys were laughing so hard they couldn’t talk. They couldn’t even answer if I’d made it into the group or not.

My breakdancing ambitions (and crush) ended that day. I didn’t even really want to be a breakdancer, I just wanted people to be like “oh, that’s the girl who breakdances.” I wish I could say I never tried to be something I’m not after that but unfortunately, I didn’t quit that until I turned 30. But we’ll get to those stories another day.

Today, the moral of this story is, whatever it is you’re into, don’t half-ass it or think you can do it just because you can do it in your daydreams. You have to work for shit. This is the main reason I haven’t quit my content writing job. I hate that job. I write for audiologists all day and just got told that I’m about to start writing for another boring profession: dentistry. It sucks, and even though I want to light my office on fire on a daily basis, I can’t because I know there is still a lot I have to learn that will help me in the future. (that and I don’t want to go to jail, but mainly the first reason)

So keep working, especially when no one is watching. That’s when it counts. That’s when windmills happen, apparently. #thatwayyoulearn

 

Little Miss Insecure Sunshine

Like everyone else I’ve gone through phases where I’ve had some pretty low self-esteem. Listen to me, I said everyone but I didn’t mean YOU Colleen. Of course not. You NEVER have self-esteem issues. You’re always confident and secure and your life is just one torn down stop sign after another.

Anyway, low self-esteem. It’s not a problem in my 30s because by now I’ve quit caring about things but in my 20s it seemed constant, and living with a pageant princess whose presence reminded me that I never quite grew out of my tomboy phase did not help. While she sat in the living room reading Vogue, I sat in my room playing Resident Evil. She spent every morning curling her hair, I spent every morning sleeping in as long as possible. She spent her money on clothes and accessories, I spent my money on, oh I don’t know, rent, bills and food. Look, the point is we were polar opposites – so calm down, Colleen, I’ve made sure to let my tens of readers know that we couldn’t be more different than if I wasn’t human at all.

Coincidentally that’s the exact look you get from pageant queens when you’ve decided you’re going to infiltrate their world and try to become one. How do I know? Because in an attempt to tap into my girly side and boost my self-esteem I decided to enter a pageant. No, seriously. Don’t worry Colleen, I made sure it wasn’t any pageant you had previously or were at that time competing in. God grow up.

The only thing I knew about pageants was what I had gathered from the Miss America and Miss USA pageants: bathing suit, fancy dress, try not to sound like an idiot but make sure you keep grinning like one. How hard could it be? The answer is ‘extremely’ when you’ve never done a pageant and lack any sort of pageantry etiquette. What’s worse, Toddlers and Tiaras wasn’t even a show yet so I had zero guidance. Yeah, because I wasn’t about to ask you Colleen. You who laughed at me when I asked what you thought of my birthday outfit, which consisted of a long flow-y shirt that looked like a strapless brown paper sack, extreme boot-cut jeans, and clear, thick high heels.

These also happen to be the heels I bought for the pageant. I don’t walk in heels very often so I figured I should get a thick heel so I wouldn’t embarrass myself on stage. I’m a planner. I also bought the heels before I even had a pageant lined up to compete in because when I saw them I thought they were perfect pageant shoes and I didn’t want anyone else to buy them.

pageantshoesOn the left is what the top of the shoes looked like and on the right is what the heel looked like.

Clearly there was no threat.

Anyway, now that I had the shoes it was time to find a pageant, which turned out to be surprisingly easy. There are pageants everywhere. EVERYWHERE. So many in fact that there’s no reason why every woman in the country shouldn’t have a pageant title of some sort. The pageant I picked was the Miss Texas Latina pageant which was to be hosted in my home town where I was conveniently spending my summer home from school. So I called the pageant director to sign up and her first question was “what city are you representing?” I thought “shit” but responded with “ummmm”. She then asked where I lived and I let her know that while I was home for the summer my full time residence was in San Antonio. Then she said “perfect, that title is still available if you want it.” “Is there anything I need to do for it?” I asked. There was: stop by her house, pay her a $50 deposit and boom, I was officially Miss San Antonio Latina. I even got a sash AND crown. That’s right Colleen, I’m on to you. Now I know how you got all those bullshit titles. I just got on your level. How do you like it?!

Fuck yeah! I was now an official title holder. But more like unofficial because big, legit pageants don’t work that way. The realization that I had just bought my beauty queen status set in, along with embarrassment, the exact opposite of what I was trying to achieve. There was no way in hell I was going to tell people how I got this title – 1) because the first response would’ve been “that explains it”, and 2) I wasn’t in the mood for people’s jokes, even though they probably would’ve been good. (I was very unappreciative in my younger years) Whenever the topic of my title came up I would tell people that the winner was decided by a lengthy interview process and I beat out a few other girls. I don’t think anyone believed me but they rewarded my effort by not saying anything. Coincidentally what did you tell people, Colleen? It better not have been that you won those titles to compete in those BS state pageants because now you know that I know the truth.

Now that I had my title it was time to start getting ready for the pageant – something I had no idea how to do and less than a month to figure out. Fortunately my first duty as pretend Miss San Antonio Latina was to attend another pretend pageant with bullshit titles. I figured at the very least I would get some sort of direction, which is actually something I needed prior to attending this event. My instructions on attending this event were to show up and represent my title; the only thing I knew about “representing a title” was from what I’d seen on TV when old Miss America would crown new Miss America. Ssssooooo, I showed up to this pageant wearing the only dress that I had: a long, spaghetti strap maroon dress that had previously served as my maid-of-honor dress for my best friend’s wedding.

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The original dress was just a tad lighter shade of maroon but basically this was it. I mean, seriously, somebody douse me with a bucket of pigs blood.

I paired that with my clear hooker heels and topped it off with my sash AND crown. Whatcha think of me now Colleen? I’m a mother fucking pageant queen!

At least I was until I walked into the venue. Every other fake title holder was wearing a cute sundress or some other variation of casual, and NO ONE was wearing their crown. I looked like a fucking parody. Slap some zombie make-up on me and I would’ve been wearing a great Halloween costume. BTW, this was also the dress I was going to wear during the evening gown portion of the pageant. Yeah. I stayed until the first intermission and then got the hell out of there. One could argue that I should’ve stayed to help boost my self-confidence, and that person would be Colleen because she would’ve gotten a kick out of the whole ordeal.

The following week my pageant career ended… sort of. I dropped out of the pageant but I’d paid $50 for that fake title and I was going to get my money’s worth. That stupid sash and crown was on display in my apartment, and then in my bedroom of the house I shared with my cousin and her boyfriend. And any time I applied for a job, under the section ‘Special Awards or Accomplishments’ I would write that I was the reigning Miss San Antonio Latina. I sure fucking did. Don’t act like your fake titles aren’t listed on your resumé Colleen! I’ve seen your LinkedIn.

I only recently threw away the crown because it made me feel like a hoarder, although I did make sure to get a picture before it went in the garbage. I did, however, keep the sash, partly as a reminder to always do my own thing, but also as proof that we can all be beauty queens, Colleen!

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