Sunday, August 1, 2010

On Being Chosen

Today is the last day of the Omaha Public Library Adult Reading Program. For every book we read we are entered into prize drawings, and the grand prize is an iPad. I really, really want to win this iPad. I'm no gadget freak and not even an Apple devotee, but I WANT TO WIN AN IPAD! We are frugal and possess a meager supply of adult toys. Our television is dainty and Mike still games on a PS2. We blog on a desktop and our phones are not smart. Shouldn't we win a cool new toy, don't we deserve it? And besides all that I am one of those people who likes to moan that I never win anything.

I'm sure that's not true but there's only one time I can remember "winning" a random drawing. I was in the 6th grade: the height of early-pubescent awkwardness. I had crooked teeth (well, I still do, I just don't care anymore). I didn't know how to style my hair. I was into New Kids on the Block, but my favorite was Donny, for goodness's sake. I often wore sweaters that I borrowed from my mom and was an amateurish jeans-pegger. My burning desire at this age was to blend in and disappear. To never ever stand out from the crowd.

So when the 5th and 6th grades gathered in the gym for an assembly one day, I sat as always in the thick of the crowd and willed myself invisible. These occasions always carried some risk of being picked as a "volunteer" to humiliate oneself in front of ones peers, and were therefore treacherous psychological ordeals during which I focused all my mental energy on not being seen. I don't remember what this assembly was about, but it involved a human-sized robot, cleverly named Robie. Maybe it was about robots? Maybe it was even this program, I have no idea.

But I do remember the moment that it was revealed Robie was going to be choosing two student "volunteers," a boy and a girl. And I knew. I knew as sure as I knew the sky was blue, this was about to be the most embarrassing moment of my life.

I have to back up for a moment to explain the depth of my vulnerability, for despite my pathological shyness I had managed to land a boyfriend, in the fifth/sixth grade sense of the word. I met Jake at church and thought he was seriously cute, and no boy had ever liked me before as far as I knew, so when the proposal of "going out" came through the wire, it was a no brainer for me. Even though I knew I was painting a target on my back because he was not exactly a catch in the schoolyard social system. He was a new kid, a year younger than me, and a skateboarder, all of which placed him quite low on the social ladder at the time. Still, he liked me! Still, I didn't exactly want any attention drawn to our budding romance.

And so. Of course. Who do you think that a-hole Robie picked to stand up in front of two entire grades gathered together in the gymnasium? I heard my name first and I froze. Surely just by sheer force of will I could cease to exist... but no. And then Jake's name, first and last, in the icy cold mechanical voice of Robie. NOOOOOOOOOOOO. I am certain that I didn't move a muscle for at least a solid minute. Surely that sadistic machine couldn't see me sitting there so maybe I could just never get up. But all my friends were physically pushing me to my feet.

And from there my recollection goes blank. My psyche has spared me the everlasting trauma of this horrific memory by by wiping it from my brain.

So you can see why I totally deserve to win the iPad. This is my moment, my chance at redemption. An opportunity to be randomly drawn for good and not evil. Please, library, don't let my only experience of winning be total degradation and public humiliation at the hands of an unfeeling robot!


Phil Human said...

Sorry you didn't win the Ipad. But thanks for making all of us in the Human clan winners for having you in our family!