“Who’s the leader of the Dave Clark Five?”
So complete was my humiliation as a sixth grader that the memory of that moment has stuck with me now for more than 50 years. Sixth grade was not a good grade for my little girl self. Being the weird kid back then wasn’t easy—I was pudgy, “blossoming” in a big way, wearing thick, cat eye glasses with rhinestones in the corners, and living, apparently, under a rock. Not the rock n’ roll kind, just the big isolating boulder of my awkwardness and my family situation.
When Cindy C with the white GoGo boots, one of the most popular girls in the sixth grade, approached me with her group of friends that morning, I was in no mood for her daily taunts and bullying. I’d had a bad hair morning, an ugly clothes morning, a bratty little brothers morning, and during breakfast, had learned that we would be moving out of our big, old, beautiful mansion to who knew where. I loved that big old house, its Italian marble floors, crystal chandelier, intricately carved front staircase and cavernous rooms, ballroom on the third floor, the five plus acres of room to roam, trees to climb and the myriad places to lose myself.
The fifth of six kids, and the only girl, I was the apple of my daddy’s eye. My mother’s disappointment in me was palpable—I was the wrong kind of girl! Oh, she wanted the dainty little flower, who would play with dolls, have tea parties, and wear dresses and Mary Janes and love them. But I was the dungaree and sneakers clad, tadpole catching, tree climbing, baseball walloping, free spirited tomboy kind of girl, and I could not have been less interested in the Dave Clark Five, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or any other rock n’ roll band of the day. Aside from a bit of folk introduced by my eldest brother (11 years my senior), the only music we ever listened to in our house was classical, and mostly, emanating from the piano on which my talented brother (3 years older) practiced for hours daily. (I bought my first album ever, The Doors, in high school.)
So, on that fateful morning, facing the derision of Cindy C and her gaggle of prepubescent girls, I simply shrugged my shoulders and stood mute, my ignorance exposed for all to see. I did not know who the leader of the Dave Clark Five was. A “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?” kind of question, I had no frame of reference on which to peg it. They could have been little green men from Mars, as far as I knew. Seething with the shame of my ignominy, I slunk away to my seat in Mr. Oglesby’s classroom. I’d like to be able to say that I somehow evened the score, but Karma did that for me in 11th grade, when Cindy C, no longer the most popular girl in our grade, had to drop out of school, pregnant. (Back in the day, that was a terrible sin, unlike today, where mere children have babies daily.)
Still the weird girl, albeit with long, luxuriant dark hair and round, wire-rim glasses, I was proud of my artsy weirdness. I still am.