My daughter and I had a long talk yesterday about not fitting into the popular crowd. It appears that although time passes, music changes, and clothing styles wane; the ever constant first class "popular" table endures the test of time within the school lunch room. The conversation reminded me of my high school lunchroom buddies. This post is dedicated to them, and to all others who at one time or another are excluded either by choice or by force from the popular lunchroom table.
Adam Sandler starred in a movie called The Wedding Singer in 1998. It is one of my favorite guilty pleasures as I usually laugh hysterically through the entirety of this theatrical masterpiece. One of my favorite scenes includes Robbie (Sandler) referencing the 'mutants at table nine'. At first, the said 'mutants' appear offended by the remark. Seconds later they all nod accepting their role as 'mutant'. At first glance, this group at table nine appear ostracized. What I have decided about the 'mutants' at table nine is whether they found each other haphazardly by literally running into each other in the hall, or they were forced into the 'mutant' group by sheer neglect from everyone else; mutants stick together. It's a wonder I can come to that conclusion from such a small reference in a ridiculous movie, isn't it? Here might be the reason why...
I am a mutant from table nine. I also had the best friends in high school imaginable. None of us were exorbitantly wealthy, as far as I know. None of us were really jocks, although some may have dreamt of being such, and none of us were cheer-leading, jazz team bouncing, short skirt wearing blonds. The majority of my friends I met in band or choir or drama, which unfortunately and typically is mutant central. Here is a run down of some my friends as I remember them...
Adam, my giant friend, who towered over the rest of us like Goliath.
Teeny tiny blond, Kara was a minister's kid, like myself.
Jeremy was in love music, but even more in love with Samantha.
Samantha (aka Sam) played flute along side me in band.
Stephanie was our resident beauty queen.
Nathan, my over-opinionated friend, kept me grounded in my spiritual roots.
Tyler,the aloof piano player, who didn't always sit with us or did he?
Sarah left us all in the dust when it came to brains.
Another Jeremy, another musician, who could croon like the best of the rat pack.
Brenna was loyal, kind, a deep thinker, and listener.
James was friend to all and respected by all. He was/is authentic.
A younger group came into play that included Brianna, my constant and true best friend. Still others like John...another good listener. Jennifer, my competitor in band, yet still friend.
These are the ones who stand out the most in my memory. There are more that I haven't mentioned, but have not forgotten.
We were not the popular table. Maybe we were the mutants in someones eyes, but to us... we were friends. We had fun. We laughed together, shared life together, and set goals together. We didn't get into hoards of trouble. We worked hard on grades, music, and life. We were not invited to some of the cool parties. We had our own. The best part is, today we are not ashamed of our past. We may be embarrassed a little over prom dates, poor hair choices or minor adolescent indiscretions, but all in all we lived well. If I had to repeat high school there would be things I would change, but mostly I would stay the same with the same friends at the same table. Only I would spend more time with the people there.
Sadly, the popular table exists for adults at work and even sometimes at church. Mutants roam through the streets finding one another to lean on. Most of us don't really care to belong to segregated clicks within the popular crowd. We try to be nice to everyone though, and we never regret our lunch friends. We know that exterior judgments mean nothing. Attaining wealth and admiration from the masses means nothing. Making friends of people who only like you for where you can get them is pointless. We would rather make friends who love us for who we are regardless of our flaws, and we have. We also know that heartbreak and sickness are not prejudice, but effect cheerleaders, jocks, music nerds, and computer geeks alike.
In the end, I want my daughter to know that looking into the popular crowd may seem intriguing, but the people who are genuine, honest, talented, giving, loyal, spiritual, and life-changing might just be sharing your french fries right beside you. Don't take those people for granted, and don't be ashamed of being a mutant at table nine.