When I was in high school, my group was the… wait for it… yep, the nerds. You’re not surprised, I’m sure. My social skills were lacking – specifically, I found (still find, sometimes) it hard to read social cues and was way too straightforward for my own good. I also liked school, really liked it. I liked learning, I liked playing in the jazz and pep bands (my act of rebellion – and this will show you how nerdy I was – was to refuse to be in concert band because I didn’t want to be. The rule was that to be in the jazz and pep bands, one had to also be in concert band, but I held my ground. And won. Such a rebel!), I was editor of the school newspaper, in honor society, valedictorian, bunch of that stuff.
My friends and I thought we were the coolest. We were idiots. I’m happy to say that most, if not all, of us now lead wonderful lives with beautiful families and careers. I’m pretty proud of us. We overcame extreme dorkiness and are mostly happy now. We’re still nerds.
God grant that my children are as awkward as I was from age 11 to 19.
I grew up in a small town, one that seems to have grown more connected in the past ten years. I distinctly remember the day the McDonald’s opened; my dad was the first customer through the door. I remember when we got a second stoplight in town. I remember when driving to Astoria or Seaside meant upscale shopping. Denny’s in Warrenton was fine dining.
We used to go to Denny’s a lot, my friends and I. After games or jazz band outings, those who could drive would drive everyone there and then we’d make some poor waitress’s life a living hell for an hour or two. Tony will tell you that he hated me for a long time because I went to the homecoming dance my freshman year, Tony’s senior year, with one of his friends (we were all friends, we swapped dates for years) and Tony was trying to impress this girl that none of us really liked but it was a small town, so we put up with her loud mouth, and he wanted to take her to the glamorous Shilo Inn, just across the street from Denny’s, but I foiled his plan. His date (who was also a freshman) didn’t want to go to the Shilo Inn, so another friend of mine (who was dating a mutual friend of ours) and I said that we didn’t want to go to the Shilo to spare Tony the embarrassment. So we all went to Denny’s. And Tony is still pissed off about it, after all these years. Because he didn’t get to impress a freshman girl in a tacky light blue dress in 1995. Tony was a senior that year, by the way.
One of the small bands of nerds I hung out with frequently my junior and senior year would drive over there just for something to do. And my boyfriend at the time, probably in concert with Sarah’s boyfriend at the time (she’s now my sister-in-law, which shows just how awesome life is), came up with the term “Denny’s Effect.” It’s like this: everything on the Denny’s menu looks so good, especially if you are a growing 17-year-old male. Those pictures! Mouth watering.
But then the food arrives, and you are disappointed (except for when you order a chocolate-banana milkshake – those always look and taste exactly as they sound). It’s Denny’s, so the food was always fine, but never so delectable as the photos made you anticipate it being.
I think we need a new term for our modern society (and also because I haven’t been to a Denny’s in years; the one in Warrenton is gone): The Pinterest Effect. Have you ever taken a scrumptious-looking recipe from Pinterest and then done it yourself, only to find that it wasn’t nearly as good as you thought it would be? For example, I made those brownies. You know the ones… brownie mix plus a can of pureed pumpkin. Healthy, low fat, tastes delicious. Except that it totally didn’t taste delicious. It tasted like a pan of chocolate pumpkin. Which is not something you would ever really be inspired to make.
And all those crafts? I think we all know what kind of chaos would ensue if I did a craft that involved string cheese, glitter, cotton candy, hot glue, food coloring, and yarn. All of the crafts seem to involve some combination of those elements, they all look perfect in the pictures, and then they all look like a Michael's exploded in my kitchen.
From now on, when I put dinner on the table or make a chore chart or something and my son screws up his little face and says, “what’s that?” I’ll just mutter, “The Pinterest Effect.”