Seventh grade was the year I realized that I definitely Wasn’t Cool. Until that point, my relative coolness had been up for debate – sure, I was a brainiac know-it-all who spent most of her spare time with her nose stuck in a book, but I’d always done well socially and had a fairly sizeable group of friends.
Something happened, though, during that summer before seventh grade. Some kind of paradigm shift went down among the other girls in my class, and for whatever reason I totally didn’t get the memo. This memo outlined the fact that we would now wear tight jeans, listen to popular music, and, above all, we would Like Boys (because, hey, everyone is straight, right?). Meanwhile, I was still wearing pink sweatsuits printed with kittens, listening to my dad’s old alt-country LPs, and reading Babysitters Club books.
Oh, and I suddenly had bad skin. Like, really, really bad skin.
Seventh grade was like culture shock; more than anything, I felt as if I’d woken up in a new country, one where I didn’t understand the language or local customs, and had zero hope of ever leaving. I was stuck in teenager-land forever (or at least for the next eight years) and would just have to learn to adapt.
The skin problems I had no control over, a new wardrobe was out of the question, popular music I was working on, but liking boys – now that was something I could do. And how.
Boys in my class were out of the question, so it would have to be someone famous. I somehow knew that I wasn’t cool enough to like one of those Tiger Beat boys the rest of the girls in my class swooned over; it would have to be someone more nerdier, more obscure.
One weekend my friend and her dad introduced me to Star Trek. Here was a world I could get behind: acne was a thing of the past, no one seemed to have any racial or socio-economic factors affecting their relationships, and you could order whatever food you wanted from a magic box on the wall and then have it immediately appear right in front of you. Oh, and there was a cute teenage boy.
I was hooked.
That Monday I went to school and proudly wrote a note to another girl in my class.
I have a crush on someone, it said.
Her reply was quickly handed back to me: Who?
Wil Wheaton, I wrote, drawing little hearts around his name.