Sunday, June 7, 2015

Scooter and the Beauty Within

When I was in high school, popularity eluded me. I was liked by what I consider to be a large number of people, fellow students and teachers alike. I was fun to be around, a good and dry sense of humor tempered with a seriousness that made for trusting and deep friendships. I was involved in many extra curricular activities, but no sports, which would have put me onto a different and probably higher rung on the popularity ladder. As I saw it, I was probably about 1/3 up on that ladder, a likable girl with a complicated beauty, the kind of prettiness that people can't explain, the kind of pretty that people refer to as coming from within, maybe because they can't truthfully call me pretty. Not the kind of beauty I'd have hoped for when I was a 16 year old. Growing into a handsome woman would be my legacy.

Popularity, like true beauty, is effortless. The popular and beautiful simply are. And the fact that I was desperate and willing to work to be both or even a little of one proved that I would be neither. I excelled in my studies, and throughout my school years was always a high achiever, sometimes a bit hard on myself. I was artistic, and could see a future, a career, which would put this talent to use.

I definitely wasn't one of the "it" girls. Not on the cheerleading squad. Not possessing the kind of cuteness that boys that age found intoxicating. Not overly confident in myself and my body. I remember at the time adults saying that they'd love to live their high school years again, and me thinking that these years were what I wanted to run from, only to look back on the positive, what little there was of it.

I began entertaining the idea of a nickname. What if I had one? Would it make me feel different? More confident and special? It was worth a shot . . . . . . . Scooter. Where I came up with it I have no idea. But I pitched it to my sister. "Just start calling me Scooter," I ordered, oblivious to how awkward she might feel doing so for the first time, but instead focusing on the glances I'd get from people knowing that this was obviously not my birth name but a moniker bestowed on me out of a certain circumstance or by one who loved me dearly. Either way, it meant I was special. Sister refused. And the nickname campaign died.

Fast forward. In my early 30's, a single mom, spending time with Lisa, a work friend who turned into an Anne Shirley kindred spirit kind of friend. Probably a couple glasses of wine into the conversation, I told her this story, the Scooter crusade that fizzled but was never forgotten.

Now you have to know Lisa. "Lisa the Jew" I call her. To her face. And she wears it like a designer label. She's Jewish. I'm Christian. And her nickname was born because she always said "Everyone needs a Jew." I can't recall her ever explaining that comment. All I know is that I believed those four words without question. The bottom line  — I don't think that it was as much "Everyone needs a Jew" as much as it was "Everyone needs a Lisa."

And Lisa said to me, "You WILL be Scooter." And to this day, she calls me Scooter.

I've told this story a number of times since that Chardonnay night with Lisa the Jew. And some friends have jumped on the Scooter train. And I'm forever grateful.

Last month, my bosses (a husband and wife team) threw their son a high school graduation party. They had it at our office, a chic and open space at Atlantic Station. As the planning commenced and I heard bits and bobs of conversation about the challenges and details of throwing a successful and heartfelt event, I decided to offer up my services. It's easy for me. Comes second nature. And I want people to throw parties and events that their guests enjoy and remember.

The night was a huge success. Because I had helped plan the night, and then helped to set up, run the party, and help with tear down, my bosses could enjoy celebrating their son, without having to deal with the minutiae that comes with throwing a big shindig. It's all I ask of any event that I'm overseeing: People enjoy.

As a thank you, they gifted me with this bag. Now ya gotta know that I love me a good tote. And this particular tote sports my nickname. Scooter. S-C-O-O-T-E-R. I may not be the most popular girl, but I do feel special. Beyond special.  I feel appreciated. That, my friends, is what I see when I look at this embroidered name. Popularity is overrated. Appreciated is everything.

To note, I'm known at my place of business for the nicknames I give people. It's a gift. The names come to me, like a vision, a fuzzy but legible word in a crystal ball. They are epic. I keep a list of them. And the nickname I gave myself may be the greatest one of all.

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