I was a homely child. I was a homely child until I was about 23, when I joined my first gym—and even then it took a long-ass time for my body to fill out. And for the chicks to start noticing me. Or at least noticing me noticing other guys, who took their own sweet time noticing me back.
I have bravely posted photographic proof of my young homeliness on this site, only to be met with mockery and derision from certain readers who accused me of trying to pass off cuteish pictures of myself as proof that it was sometimes challenging even for my own mother to hug me.
Well now the gloves are off. Or at least the dignity is. Whatever was left of it. Because I dug around in the darkest corners of my old photo albums and found some of the last remaining Photos of Shame that hadn’t been destroyed by me or self-exterminated in a heroic act of community service.
I scanned six pictures before I put all my albums in storage, and I’m presenting three of them to you here (in chronological order so you can more easily chart my descent into unsightliness). The other three have a theatrical theme (go figure) and qualify for their own special category of horror. Which means I have a Halloween post all ready to go. Less work for me!
In the mean time, grab your stomachs and avert your eyes, because you’re about to see some pictures of me that, when you consider the fact that I’ve never been placed in a home for frightening children, qualify my parents for sainthood.
You’ve been warned.
The summer of 1984:
Things I had discovered in 1984: Canvas shoes from Target. The gender-bending subversiveness of wearing an ankle bracelet. White fake Ray-Bans with little black music notes all over them. Gravity-defying hair. Things I had not yet discovered in 1984: Going to a gym. Having the good sense not to wear tank tops in public. Having the good sense not to wear white fake Ray-Bans with little black music notes all over them.
My 21st birthday:
I’m not sure what’s most disturbing about this picture: the bar mitzvah clown smile, the Disney villain eyes, the dinner-plate glasses, the scarecrow neck, the weird-ass way I wore my watch on the inside of my wrist or the pink-on-white shirt that hung on me with all the sex appeal of a party dress on a toddler. The girls on my floor (Loser alert! I was living in a co-ed dorm!) had decorated my door with pink 21s. Probably to match the shirt. Or the homosexuality. I’m not sure where I got the wine, but I am sure I had only a sip of it to celebrate reaching such a milestone age. Because actually drinking a whole glass of alcohol on my 21st birthday would have been something the cool kids would do.
First of all, I guess I had a cute little habit of saying Yay! about situations that met my approval when I was in college. Unfortunately, Mom (who correctly thought Yay! would be fitting sentiment to express over a college graduation) and the cake decorator (who probably didn’t have an advanced degree in spelling) ended up producing a graduation cake that said yeah in my honor. Which only underscores what the rest of this picture is saying about me. For instance: The glasses. Bigger than my face. Lower than my eyebrows. I’m just a home perm and a cameo brooch away from being Sophia Petrillo. And don’t get me started on the shirt. I’d thought it was one of the coolest shirts ever when I first found it wadded up on the tumble table at the local County Seat. It was red and white, see, but it had blue stuff sewn in to the collar and sleeves (and, inexplicably, that saggy pocket) to make it look like it was layered. It was also probably a small, yet it hung on me like a Mayan burial gown on an immolated corpse. And in any case, the whole look was in direct violation of the contract I signed when they gave me my English degree: no bright colors, no perky smiles, no Sally Jesse Raphaël glasses. And no misspelled pastries.