I went to an all-girls’ high school in the 1990s. It was academically challenging while offering a well-rounded curriculum and grooming us to be leaders and successful, powerful women. After four years of learning and camaraderie, the senior class was given a survey for senior superlatives. I was a decent student. I never took academics seriously; so Most Likely to Succeed was off the table. I didn’t have the prettiest hair or host the biggest party. I wasn’t going to grow up to be president or Most Likely to End Up on a Soap Opera. As far as I was concerned, I was just one in a sea of familiar faces. Come to find out, I was dead fucking wrong.
At the end of the summer, I picked up my yearbook and painstakingly went through every page reminiscing about how much I loved my years at SJA. And then I got to the senior page. I glanced over the superlatives and found that most of the choices were pretty spot on. I wasn’t expecting to see my name. And there it was, nice and big: Class Clown — Colleen Dilthey. Holy shit!
How do you explain that to your parents? “Oh, no, your tuition dollars weren’t wasted. I am totally going to do great in college. Trust me, I am as surprised is you.” And I swear to God, I was. I was shocked. But then I started to think about it and I realized that I was that girl. I had gotten myself into a lot of hijinks in four years that could have perhaps lead people to believe that I was a bit of a fuck up.
Perhaps “fuck up” isn’t the right term. I didn’t fuck things up; I just kind of made them perhaps more entertaining than other people. Like there was this one time that we were all having lunch outside and there were these geese that positively infiltrated the area where we ate and had become quite aggressive. I was minding my own business, just walking to find some friends, when one of those eager bastards started to squawk at me. And I did exactly what you are supposed to do when threatened by a predator. I turned my back, ran, and started screaming. That little fucker came after me and when he finally caught up, he stuck his beak right up the back of my plaid skirt and bit the hell out of my thigh.
It is unfortunate to get bitten by a goose. To put on that kind of performance in front of a few hundred students who are just trying to enjoy their lunch, takes things to a whole new level. It was basically a drive-in movie for the whole school, starring a crazy person and a vicious beast. For that performance, I won a Daytime Emmy. But it didn’t end there.
One time I was in chorus class where gum and snacks were strictly prohibited. It was one of my favorite classes and one of my all-time favorite teachers was leading the group. He didn’t love when we were late, but I tended to be one of the last ones through the door. It was on the third floor and a mad dash. One particular afternoon, not only was I late, I was chomping on some Bubble Yum. He looked at me and said, “Miss Dilthey, are you chewing gum?” Before I knew what hit me, I looked up and said, “No, sir, it’s an appetite suppressant.” The room erupted as he put his head down and said, “I have nothing. Absolutely nothing.” I didn’t mean to be a smart ass, it just came out.
There was another time that I was walking down the hall and someone had left a banana peel on the floor. You can see where this is going, right? I didn’t see it, nor did I think that this kind of thing actually happened, but you better believe I slipped on that peel and went flying three feet in the air and landed on my ass. I started laughing so hard that I wet my pants. Right there. In front of everyone. The more I recount these scenarios, it all just seems to come together.
As I have gotten older, things haven’t slowed down in the clowning department. I am still an absolute disaster. But now, I just share it with anyone who wants to read it. I put my entire life out on social media so that people can feel a bit better about their own. Have you ever done a drive up to Target in a pair of ridiculous purple owl pajamas with your daughter, who is about three days potty trained, and suddenly announces that she has an emergency tinkle coming and your only recourse is to walk into the store (both in your pajamas) for your entire hometown to see? I have.
Do you like to exercise? I don’t, but I have been obsessed with Richard Simmons since I was 15. I made my mom take off a day of work so that I could meet him at a discount store. And I sobbed uncontrollably when he walked in. The whole school found out. (Looking back, this helped lead to that class clown designation.) Well, not only did I take my newborn son to meet Richard Simmons years later, I have continued to do his exercise routines for the past 25 years. That is, of course, until I tore my meniscus doing “Sweatin’ to the Oldies.” Yes, you read that correctly — my obsession with Richard ended in surgery. Not CrossFit, or running, or anything impressive. Richard Simmons. Oldies.
Who does that happen to? Me. Just me.
We took our children to Disney World a couple of summers ago for the trip of a lifetime. The heat, the walking, the family fun, we had all had enough. All of us, including my bra. As we stood in front of the castle having our picture taken my bra said, “Fuck you,” and popped. All four hooks, gone. It spontaneously combusted. So there I stood with my 38Gs free falling at the happiest place on earth. What do you do? Head on over to first aid, that’s what! But on the way, grab one of those fancy Disney photographers to take your picture. This is a memory not to be missed. And for future reference, it only takes 12 safety pins to get it all back in after it all falls out.
I am 42 and I see no signs of this clowning slowing down. It is a well-established behavior pattern; there’s no teaching this old dog new tricks. So, as far as I am concerned, day-by-day is just the status quo. If you see me at Starbucks in my nightgown, there is a reason. I may not have time to stop and talk about it then, but feel free to peruse my Facebook in a few hours and I am sure you can read all about it. Oh, and one more thing: the time that I hit that whole display of Pringles at Sam’s Club and 65 boxes went flying? It wasn’t my fault.
Someday, I’ll tell you what really happened.
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