Monday, April 25, 2016

ULYSSES

Rerun from April 2009.

I've mentioned before that I grew up like an Army Brat. We weren't military but we sure moved a lot due to my mother's health. The bad part of moving is that I seldom learned how my friends turned out. The good part is that I was always the new girl and while the girls often weren't exactly pleased with me, the boys usually were-- a lot. "New girl" had the edge, a mystique.

Ages 10 to 12 when we lived in Key West, were my prime years of popularity. Now it is sad to "peak" at 12 but I guess it is better than never "peaking" at all. 

During those two years, I had a steady boyfriend Danny who went to the Catholic boy's school. Danny was the love of my young life after my failed attempt with Roy Rogers. However, he did not go to my school, so a girl had to entertain herself all those hours away from her steady. In essence, I cheated on Danny seven fold.

I kept a daily list of  the 7 boys that pursued me in the public school. Each day the 7 would come up to me one at a time and want to know their position on the list. Those who made number one ever so briefly, whooped and hollered. I had to constantly adjust the list to keep the fellows interested. Now the only romance occurring with the public school boys was maybe a little sweaty hand holding and treat buying with the current #1.

The boys knew nothing about Danny and Danny knew nothing about them. It was the only time in my life when I had complete power over the opposite sex and I loved every minute of it.  I was convinced that this was my destiny. However, I never again EVER came close to that degree of popularity for as puberty approached, the only thing to develop at a normal rate was my personality. From 10 to 12 though, I was figure appropriate for that age group.

Every school has a sad person who just doesn't fit. Ulysses was ours. He was the image of Alfred E Newman who was the cover boy of a humor magazine from the late 50's.  Ulysses could have been the model--- maybe he was.

Ulysses had orange hair that stuck out in all directions. Freckles, great big, pencil eraser sized freckles covered his face including his lips and ears. His ears were huge and stuck straight out from his head and his teeth were gaped and too large for his mouth. And what had his parents been thinking of by naming a boy Ulysses in the deep south? Though he was smart enough, Ulysses rarely participated in class and kept to himself. He certainly was not on my list of seven.

One day in music class, the chairs were all moved to the side of the room to make a space for square dance lessons. We were of the age that when dance was suggested, the girls got excited while all the boys groaned and shuffled their feet as they studied the floor. The teacher decided to make it a "girls choice" dance in an effort to break up the bottle neck.

My Magnificent Seven were eyeing me to see which one of them I would pick. I have always hated the unfairness of the dreaded "pick" routine. Though I always escaped that position, someone was always "picked" last and is humiliated by being the left over. 

Being the smallest and a bit of a teacher's pet I was given first pick. Yeah I know a lot of you are really disliking that 10 year old me but remember this glory didn't last long.   

Since I have always had an overblown sense for fair play, I shocked the whole class and picked Ulysses to be my partner so he would not be chosen last. His freckles blended into one giant one as he flushed red. He walked slowly towards me as if expecting a big "April Fool."

The dance was really basically a side by side march around the room with the boy's arm over the girl's shoulder. A little do-se-do'ing, swing your partner, promenade and finis-- no biggie. 

There was a constant buzzing though about Ulysses and I. The Magnificent Seven were stunned and the girls all wondered why I had chosen him when I could have had any of my pet group. 

Maybe they reasoned that they had underestimated the worth of Ulysses if I wanted him as a partner. Somehow his value increased ten fold that day by being a first pick-- a number one draft choice so to speak.  Ulysses became a friend though not one of the seven. I all ready had a full plate. 

It was a couple of weeks later when I discovered the extent of what I had done with so simple a move. I was going to class when Ulysses came down the hall towards me between two cute girls. With an arm around each, he was grinning from big ear to big ear as he gave me a sly wink. 

It seems that he suddenly was Mr. Popular and had his own list of girls to keep happy. His looks hadn't changed except that his posture was straighter and what ever he used to tame his hair had dulled the orange to a nice auburn. 

What had changed was his confidence level which was through the roof. He was no longer considered gawky but cute. It wasn't long before his formerly unknown dry sense of humor started to blossom.  Ulysses maintained a solid degree of popularity into junior high when we moved again and I lost track.

We left Key West and my absolute popularity behind. I never did find out how Ulysses turned out.  For the life of me I can't remember his last name or I'd Google him.  That first name would weed out a lot of hits.   Somehow though, I think he did OK.

Did you ever change a person or were changed your self by a simple chance action?  Maybe to or by a classmate, a friend or a teacher?

43 comments :

  1. Love this story! I agree about the "picking" strategy that was used in school for everything from dances to sports. I was always one of the last chosen for just about everything. I was very shy and not very athletic.

    Fast forward to adulthood, and it gave me a sense of fairness and empathy for those who are not always "first picks".

    The power of our actions and words will sometimes never be known, but the possibility of making someone's world a little better can bring great joy to the recipient, as well as the giver!

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    1. Carole,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You obviously morphed into such a caring person. You know, you are right. I am sure we all have inadvertently given someone, possibly a stranger, a nudge into a different, more positive direction. Not being aware of our results is a bit sad but shouldn't stop us.

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  2. Great story. I've noticed this to be true a few times.
    There is an incident in the movie, "Legally Blond," that
    depicts this too. Cute

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    1. Belva,
      Thank you. Now you have me curious and I will have to watch Legally Blond.

      Delete
  3. How wonderful! I may have married a Ulysses: I met him in college after his hair had turned brown, but early pictures of my husband show him to be a carrot-topped beanpole with giant glasses!

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    1. Marty,
      Thank you so much. Somewhere along the line your hubby blossomed and became your "first pick." Cool.

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  4. You little vixen with such a big heart! What a great story. never underestimate the power of one kind gesture.

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    1. Olga,
      Thank you and I had to laugh at "vixen." Pretty sure there were less benign labels attached to me in those days.

      Delete
  5. Well, I can't recall any kind gestures that have changed my life in the past, but my heart is continually opened and my heart soars when I find a gem of a blogger like you, Patti. I'm so glad you are in my life and you have changed my attitude for the entire rest of the day. Thank you! :-)

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    1. Djan,
      Wow, you have just made my day with that sweet comment. Thank you so much and back at ya.

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  6. Replies
    1. Gail,
      So glad you enjoyed it. It was fun to retell.

      Delete
  7. Oh Patti, this is a wonderful story. Good for you. Oh that a gesture such as this could become epidemic in our society.

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    1. Linda,
      I do agree that we would be so much better off if we just remembered to think what another might be going through and just be kind. Doesn't cost a cent.

      Delete
  8. Love this post on several levels! I was often the new boy in school...not nearly as good apparently. For me it was like being a lightening rod for geeks.

    I've always said in school nothing made a girl so attractive as suddenly being with another guy, I guess it worked both ways.

    BTW, I always say I peaked at 13, I know what you are talking about and I have a feeling I would have trying to get into your line of 7.

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    1. joeh,
      I think my brother had the same luck with being the new guy. Must work better for girls.
      Ha,ha with your sense of humor, you would have been top of the list:)

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  9. Great story. I was popular in high school, more popular than the future Mrs. Chatterbox but these days she surpasses me in popularity.

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    1. Stephen,
      Aw, I am sure you do all right now, look at the following you have on your blog.

      Delete
  10. Patti, what a great story teller you are!

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    1. Inger,
      Thanks you so much and so glad you think so. It helps that I have had good stories to draw from.

      Delete
  11. First, this is the first time I have heard of always being the new kid portrayed as an advantage. You are proof of that pudding.
    Second, I can't imagine a 10-12 year old with that much confidence! I may have come in to my own, to a lesser degree, by age 40.
    Lastly, your social structure in your elementary school was certainly different than mine. A prioritized list of boy friends! Walking down the hall with an arm around someone of the opposite sex? Na-uh. Not in my school. You are movie fodder. Have you written your life story?

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    1. Linda,
      With that absurd and short lived popularity I had back then, confidence was easy and coming out my pores.
      Naw, the only life story I have written has been here on my blog. That is about all I can handle and bore fewer people that way.

      Delete
  12. I had that realm of popularity in the sixth grade and did not realize my fame was because I was the first girl in our class to develop boobs. As the other girls began to catch up, I was then limited to only one boy friend at a time. It was fun though to receive several Christmas presents from boys that wonderful year.

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    1. Annie,
      Ha ha, that is so funny for it was you busty gals that put me out of business and I had to settle for the one boy friend at a time.
      I agree, it sure was fun while it lasted.

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  13. Patti, what a great story! Having popularity in school at 12 I'm sure was a great confidence booster. Picking Ulysses took courage and says that you really were older than your years. Personally I was too shy in elementary school... and then going to an all girl Catholic high school didn't help. Freshman year in college was probably my time for good memories.

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    1. Rian,
      Ah yes but you did make it in college in spite of being in an all girls school early.
      I think I got my tender heart from my genes. My mom was a wonderful example of how to treat others.

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  14. A good story, Patti! I was definitely a geek and also a new girl in 5th grade. I wore glasses and my mom gave me perms which didn't help in the looks department. However, at the end of 5th grade, my new 6th grade teacher made me Captain of Patrols which was a huge honor at my school. (We wore those white bands across our (flat) chests and helped kids cross the street safely.) Wearing the special badge of Captain seemed to increase my worth 100 fold. Thank you Miss Hoover!

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    1. Barb,
      Thank you. That is what I was hoping for. Stories of how one action can change a person's direction. I hope you got to thank Miss Hoover in person. What a special lady.

      Delete
  15. During those years- 6th and 7th grade, my classmates were in to that dreaded slam book...most humiliating device ever! I never did have a go as a popular kid, but we moved every three to four years in the military and usually I did good to find a good friend or two, and then we were off again. What you did for that boy...wow...I bet that changed his whole world. You have a good heart, Patti. :)

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    1. Terri,
      I had to look up slam book. It was after my time. Was it used for bullying?
      My mom gave me a tender heart at birth. It was always just there for people and animals, I can't take credit for it.

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  16. I think maybe this story is why I enjoyed my switch from teaching high school to a middle school. The social dynamics were always amazing...:)

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    1. TB.
      I envy you your turn in middle school. How interesting yet innocent those dramas were.

      Delete
  17. I loved this story. You are such a born story teller. Honestly, I think you should compile your writings into a book. I'm serious.

    I was the new girl in town my senior year. It was wonderful to become the most popular girl in town overnight. I was voted homecoming queen. The girls hated me.

    During that time, I got picked by a Ulysses type and he asked me to the homecoming dance. I was humiliated to have to go with him. (That doesn't speak well of me.) My mother insisted I go with the first one who asked, so that is what I did. He turned out to be a rocket scientist. No kidding. He did. Nice guy, but he really wasn't my type. I was mean to him when he kept calling. I'm not so proud of that now.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Sally,
      Thank you so much for the compliment. I fear blogging is about all I can handle.
      Don't feel badly about that boy---you probably changed his life a bit for he asked the most popular girl and she went with him. It had to have improved his image with the other kids plus boosting his self esteem.
      Had to laugh at the girls hating you. I was always lucky to get one or two girl friends during that time. No one likes a boy hog:))

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  18. We had two "nerds" in our High School class and it was fun to see (at our 5oth reunion) that they turned out just fine ... one even married a model and traveled extensively. !!

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    1. Ginnie,
      I saw the same thing at my 25th. Also surprising was that the most sought after boy was fat, bald and drove a potato chip truck. Popularity in high school doesn't always translate nor is nerdom a permanent condition.

      Delete
  19. When I was in school, I never lacked for boyfriends but never seemed to click with many girls. Maybe it was growing up with brothers that made it easier to talk to boys. Part of the problem was going into a much bigger school when I had been in a class of 3 in a small country school, and I was a bit scared and shy. Anyway, I started noticing a girl in my class who was much shyer than I was and always was by herself. She would stand back and not try to join in any conversations. I felt sorry for her and began making an effort to talk to her each day. She became a good friend and came out of shyness as time went on. In fact, she was smart as a whip and ended up graduating near the top of our class and had many friends by then. I'm proud to say that we are still good friends of 50 plus years!
    This was a terrific story, Patti, you have a good heart. One just never knows what a little kindness can do for a person.

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    1. Cheryl
      What a neat story and proves the point. You reached out to someone who really needed a friend and gave her that life changing boost. That you are still friends 50 years means you made the right move for you both. Kudos.

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  20. Sweet Patti I so enjoyed reading this post. What you did for Ulysses most likely gave him courage and confidence the rest of his life. What a great thing you did. My school years were not good years, I was never in a school long enough to make friends. We moved over 50 times during my childhood. I was small for my age, very shy and never popular. I do have one memory of when I was in 7th grade the boy that sat behind me in math class sang to me once and a few days after that asked me if he could walk me home. I told him "no" because I was afraid to allow him to. I did feel like there was some hope for me after that though. We moved back to OK and I finished the last part of 7th grade there and that is the only time of all my school years that I can actually say I didn't feel like an outcast.

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    1. Maggie,
      I went to 8 schools. I can't even try to imaging moving 50 times. Mercy. That boy did you a huge favor trying to woo you. Don't think I have ever had a guy sing to me. Bless his heart, that was sweet. So glad he gave you the feeling of acceptance.

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  21. Thank you for taking us down memory lane with this wonderful post. I was the "Ulysses" in my school :) and I never was a fan of the picking game.

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  22. Oh my gosh! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post, Patti. If I didn't love you before, I sure do love you now. Too wonderful. I wish we could all know what happened to Ulysses.

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