Monday, January 31, 2011

The Retrospect Project, 2: Hunter Harris's Story

For a little background on The Retrospect Project, read this.
To read the introduction to today's author and his story, go here.

Without further ado...Hunter Harris's hilarious retrospective moment, which I'd like to call...

"The Boy with the Green Hair"

"I’ll be honest—I was not the coolest kid in middle school. In seventh grade, I was 6’4”, and I weighed barely 170 pounds. Needless to say, I was already fairly noticeable. Add large-frame glasses to that equation, and you have a unique combination of nerd. As a gangly, awkward being, I desperately needed an opportunity to put forward the “correct” image that my classmates (namely the girls) could appreciate.

See that kiddo with the goofy grin? Yeah, that would be him.

I had two musical inspirations for my new look. First, boy bands were still popular, though they were starting to decline. Now, I did not personally care for them, but girls loved them. I noted that they especially appreciated the blonde band members like Justin Timberlake, Nick Carter, and Lance Bass (in hindsight, how ironic). 

Backpacks, lunchboxes, and t-shirts with various quartets dominated the hallways. The boys knew that we had to at least pretend to appreciate the boy band genre if we were going to stand as sensitive, caring guys. 
Secondly, Eminem had just released The Marshall Mathers LP. If Eminem is popular now, he was almost god-like in the early 2000s. You had 0 street cred unless you could rap “The Way I Am” or “The Real Slim Shady.” Considering I went to a middle school that had an African American population that equaled upwards of eighty percent, Eminem gave the “white boys” a chance to be cool. I reveled in the opportunity. I had white t-shirts and black, baggy jeans, but I just couldn’t yet pay proper homage. 

As a brunette, I knew that Mother Nature had not blessed me with golden locks at that age, so, like millions of people each year, I planned to bleach my hair. Unfortunately, I had a mother with enough sense to forbid me to do something so ridiculous (I eventually wore her down next year, but that’s an entirely different, ridiculous story). Without the courage to disobey her or the finances to purchase blonde hair dye, I was left with very little opportunity to improve my lot in life. “Fortunately” for me, I was a fairly resourceful kid. I remembered that my brother and I had been given sidewalk chalk the previous Christmas.

Per my logic, yellow sidewalk chalk was just a slight downgrade from peroxide. Without testing how the chalk looked in my hair, I scraped the chalk all over my scalp before strutting to the school bus. Had my bus driver not been so apathetic that he actually looked at the students that rode his bus, my expressionist journey might have ended there. Also, my family lived in a rural area, so I was the oldest student to ride the bus, thus making me automatically cool to the elementary kids. With both of these factors in my favor, I felt like a king by the time we pulled onto campus. 

To make the story a bit more concise, I’ll just say that my hair was a huge hit—just not in the way I expected. When my peers saw my hair during our pre-class congregation, they did not become instantly jealous or attracted, as I hoped. No, they laughed. Uncontrollably. Our assistant principal (thank God for small mercies), hearing the cackling of my friends, found me, and quickly escorted me to the boys’ bathroom. I knew I only had one option to save myself from detention—head dunking. Left alone to my shameful enterprise, I noticed my hair for the first time in the mirror above one of the sinks. Instead of the crisp, golden base I expected, my hair was closer to a lime-green hue. 

Instead of Eminem or Mr. Timberlake, I looked more akin to Joey Fatone. Joey was not cool; Joey was never cool. If the shame wasn’t enough, I had to go to the rest of my classes with the helmet that grows from my wet, unbrushed hair. 
I learned that day that I was better off just accepting my own nerd-dom, rather than trying to cultivate a non-organic persona. Though it was a long road, I learned to appreciate my potential, rather than prop up my deficiencies. And, years later, I found friends, even potential dates, that could appreciate the nerd in me."

I really don't think I could have topped that story. And what a fantastic "moral." Do you have a story to share? If so, email it to Ms. P at

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