Rejector or rejectee?

January 20, 2011

Andrew Hicks

I was returning a phone call to a close friend of ten years, and I remembered during the early days of our friendship being hung up on the fact that she was six years younger than I was. I insisted I was not hung up on it, but I forced jokes into the conversation that revealed otherwise. It was just interesting to flash back to that detail, considering now that we’re married adults who are 26 and 32, I see us as being the same age.

I don’t have this hangup anymore, but I am age-conscious and will pretty much always use it as a descriptor of a person. The good friend in question always talked and thought on my level; the hangup was all me.

I think it stems from being bumped from kindergarten to first grade after being in school for a month. I’ve been joking since like fourth grade that the academic authorities must’ve noticed I was finger painting and taking naps on an entire other level than the other kids.

I struggled in first grade, academically and socially. By second grade, I was one of the really smart kids again, though I did feel different from most everybody just by virtue of being younger than they were.

Fourth grade was when I first got the notion that I might be one of the unpopular, weird kids. The teacher one day decided the class was going to play a game called Rejector or Rejectee, in which we would focus on everyone individually and, as a group, label each person one or the other. I thought I was going to be labeled a Rejector because I wouldn’t let Nick Ruminowsky* borrow my crayons the day before. Kid never had his own crayons. I was pretty much unanimously labeled a Rejectee, though, and it was brought to my attention that I shouldn’t wear a yellow-and-green striped shirt with green pants to school.

Being age-conscious was the main excuse I hid behind when I rationalized that it would be okay to take a year off the career path right after graduating college. I was barely 21, I was living in an apartment with two buddies, I was finally starting to open up and be social and feel normal and party a bunch. I wanted to write my book, but I also wanted to taste what the TV Batman called “the deceptive lure of easy living.” I don’t regret much of how I’ve spent my time, but I’d love to have some of those years back now.

It’s interesting to flash back to more immature attitudes about not fitting in because I was younger and therefore different, or feeling self-conscious about having friends who were younger or older than I was, even though I preached a philosophy of “everyone is an individual with something interesting and unique to contribute.”

Last night was the monthly open mic at Donnie B’s comedy club. I felt privileged to be at a large, round table with three pockets of friends I’ve made from different corners of my life. I love watching the interaction between people I know who don’t know each other. I wasn’t drinking, and I didn’t feel self-conscious. I enjoyed the flow of conversation and the different points of view. I’m still a weird dude, long story short, but I like to hang out sometimes.

*Name changed. My mom later clipped Nick’s obituary from the paper and mailed it to me. 26 years old. Drug overdose. I should’ve let him borrow the crayons.

3 Responses to “Rejector or rejectee?”

  1. Rachel Price Says:

    Oh, I wish I knew who you had for 4th grade! What a huge educator’s taboo!

    By the by, the weird kids are always the really intresting ones later on. I see so many of them at our middle school and just want to tell them to hang in there!

  2. Rachel Price Says:

    Another side note, I do know how to spell. :/

  3. Woo Says:

    What kind of a stupid bitch teacher did you have? Seriously?!?!

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