Friday, August 31, 2012

Bravery Beyond Measure

In the venn diagram that makes up me, there are many circles. But there two specifically that overlap in a relevant way - relevant to this post, anyhow. The first thing you need to know is that I was a child in the 1990s. This, incidentally, was the prime time to be in elementary school. I was afforded the pleasure of drinking Mondos while eating Dunk-a-Roos, watching Rugrats and Power Rangers*, and perhaps most importantly, enjoying the sweet sound of classic boy bands like Backstreet Boys and NSYNC**. Not only were those harmonies superhuman, but no one had to worry about their child singing along to verging-on-porn lyrics***.

*Until the day I die, a part of me will always want to grow up to be a Power Ranger. 
**Which, by the way - BSB > NSYNC. Yeah, I said it.
***Seriously, how are they going to put "Whistle" on KidzBop? This is a concern I have.

The second, considerably less fun circle is that I was a chubby kid. Yes, it gave me a complex. Does all my self-deprecation make sense now? Have you solved me? But I wouldn't change it; everyone should be chubby for a bit as a child. See, IT MAKES YOU NICER. Nobody should be "good-looking" in elementary or middle school. Our egos will balloon enough as it is, let's not start them at age three - I'm looking at you, Toddlers and Tiaras.

Have you figured it out yet? What happens when these two things overlap? Take it away, diagram:

             The weird part is that I found this diagram pre-made in a Google search.

YES friends, in the late nineties Harry Potter had begun taking over the world, or it had at least reached the states. In short, it was not a good time to be a fat kid.

My best friend was a hilarious ginger boy, and with my dark, dark hair I fancied us Harry and Ron. Oh no, the world assured me, you are Neville Longbottom, the sad fat child wizard. "No, I'm the hero!" I wanted to say, "Can't you see it underneath the chins?"

I cannot tell you how many times - especially in middle school when I was at peak fatness - someone cheerfully told me how I reminded them of Neville. The fact that they were smiling brightly as they delivered this tidbit did little to remedy the fact that hearing that made me feel like I'd been STABBED IN THE FACE. As I'd force a smile and say, "oh... really?", what I would be thinking was, "I know I'm fat, YOU DON'T NEED TO REMIND ME."

But I got older, I thinned out, and this comparison drifted to the back of my mind. Then a year or so back, it became very en vogue to make your Facebook picture that of your celebrity lookalike. It was only then I started compiling the celebrity lookalikes I'd received over time.

In high school, I was in a production of Macbeth; I played Banquo.**** My lovely friend Michelle played Witch Three. When she, at college, was again cast as Witch Three, I went to visit her and see her college version of Macbeth. I met the new Banquo, and joked to him, "I feel like we should duel or something!" New Banquo - who, fun fact, later went on to be a contestant on The Glee Project - told me he thought I looked like (or reminded him of) Kenneth from 30 Rock.

****And I gave us all the phrase "Money in the Banquo".

While I love Jack McBrayer, I found this suspect. It didn't seem accurate. And that's not nearly the weirdest one I've gotten. A friend of my roommate's told me I looked like Napoleon Dynamite. And again here, they told me excitedly*****My face fell immediately. Devoid of any other thoughts, I actually sputtered to this person I'd just met, "...why would you say that to me?" His face followed mine's suit and fell as well. Consolingly, he mustered some "oh, I... I'm sorry, I didn't mean..." but I'm pretty sure I just wandered away, my face still etched with horror.

*****It's always excitedly. They're so bloody happy to tell you you're ugly.

                      Do I really look like Napoleon Dynamite? You decide.

But at least Napoleon Dynamite is an actual human being. Some kids I was volunteering with - don't act so surprised, I'M A NICE PERSON, DAMMIT - were throwing around celebrity lookalikes for each other. I offhandedly mentioned I didn't have any lookalikes, and one of the guys goes, "no no, you look like Ratatouille!" Again horrified, I asked, "do you mean I look like Patton Oswalt? Or the animated character??" "No, the animated character. The chef." "Oh, ok, good, yeah" I said, finding that option the less upsetting of the two.******

******Let me state for the record that I find Patton Oswalt to be a wildly talented and hilarious man. It's just for a kid with a fat complex... y'know. It wasn't great to hear.

My two options. Quite an eclectic gang we're gathering, huh?

I tried - unsuccessfully, it would seem, based on this post - to brush that off, and told them how I'd often gotten Neville Longbottom as a child. "But hey!" One girl said, "he's really hot now!" This is an argument my friends make to me often. "Neville ended up really handsome", they say. This may or may not be true, but as I remind them, that's not what any of the people who called me Neville Longbottom were talking about. None of them were saying, "Fat kid, you look like Neville Longbottom, and by that, I mean to say that I have seen into the future, and that fat kid grows up into a slim young man with nice teeth. Oh, and I'm talking about the actor now, not the character. You get all that from what I'm saying, right?"

If I thought anybody meant present-day Neville, we might have a different story.
But this wasn't all. I continued lamenting the Neville comparison, turning to another girl and saying, "They told me I looked like Neville Longbottom. So basically it was the equivalent of coming up to me and telling me I was ugly." She - in dead-serious earnestness - said to me:
"But like, he's like really brave."

Brave indeed, young woman. Brave indeed.

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