Welcome to the Geek-dome Looser. (The Retainer Saga)

Posted on August 6, 2010


Growing up (and especially in junior high) I was, for lack of a better term, a social disaster. What is a social disaster you might ask? Well, chances are, if you don’t know, you probably ARE one. But that’s beside the point. And I’m here to help enlighten you. A social disaster is what happens when you mix a really bad haircut, braces, headgear, a retainer, growing six inches a day, being kind of smart, liking fantasy novels, and being RPG-curious all into one hopelessly clueless prepubescent girl. But on top of this, is also required a great, huge, gnawing fear of authority and distaste for rebellion. And maybe also just a smidge of common sense – but only enough so that said prepubescent realizes her peers are idiots, and not enough to help her realize she’ll grow up and be OK some day. And, of course, hormones. Those might be the single most important ingredient in a true social disaster like I was.  

 So, now that you understand what I was like in junior high, let’s examine one of the more horrifying experiences of my entire life. It involves my retainer, my fear of authority, the boy on whom I was madly crushing, and the school cafeteria. If you think you know where this is going, you are wrong. (or not. Maybe you can predict the future – in which case, can we be friends?) 

 As I have explained already, I had a retainer. I really STILL have a retainer, and I’m supposed to wear it every night. But as you’ll soon understand, I don’t do this, for emotional reasons. Anyway. I had a retainer. And my parents had paid a lot of good money for that retainer and for me to have a beautiful smile. I lost my retainer on a fairly regular basis. My parents did not think this was very cool, so I got a big scary lecture about it. 

Me, getting yelled at.   

 After that, I was really scared about losing my retainer. It’s important to note that in order to eat, I had to take out my retainer. And whenever I took out my retainer, I risked losing it. But unfortunately, I still had to eat at least 3 times a day, and chances were that one of those times would be at school. Which meant that what should have been an enjoyable break from a day of drudgery and learning, 

Me, excited about lunch.  

 soon became a terrifying mid-day obstacle:  

 Me, realizing I'll have to take out my retainer.  

But I'm so hungry.  

But loosing retainer equals death!  

Me, still very hungry.  

 Of course, at this point you might guess what happened. One day, at lunch, I lost my retainer. It had been sitting on my lunch tray and I, being a pre-teen idiot, had dumped my lunch tray in a hurry so I could go outside and watch my uber-crush play hack-i-sack with his friends (I have no idea how to spell that). When I realized what maybe I had done, I was struck down with a kind of unholy terror. When I couldn’t find my retainer in any of its usual places, I started to freak out. 

Me, realizing what I've done 

 I was terrified of what would happen if I went home without it. 


 I wasn’t really sure what to do. I looked in the trash can. Trash had been emptied. I looked under the table. My retainer wasn’t there. I checked my pockets, my backpack, even my mouth (it happens). My retainer was in none of these places. I was at a complete loss. So I finally asked the lunch lady what to do, as though she had some sort of magical retainer-locating powers. She shrugged and suggested I try the dumpster out back, which is where they put all the lunch trash. 


If hope, fear, and shame had a baby...it would look like this.

So I headed toward the back door. At which point I realized something equally terrifying: 

Dumpster is salvation. Dumpster is death.

Cool kids = rebels. Rebels hang out behind school. Next to dumpster.

  I was really torn at that point. I had to weigh two equally disturbing and terrifying possibilities. It was either this: 


Or this: 

Cute boys laughing at me

 I figured that although having cool kids laughing at me might be more IMEDIATELY humiliating, I also had to live with my parents, and that would have greater long-term side effects. So I decided to go look in the dumpster. 

 From the moment I opened the lid, I pretty much knew it was hopeless. Even if my retainer were actually in there, among the used paper cups, napkins, half-eaten pizza, random cardboard boxes, and rotting meat, I would never ever find it. I listlessly moved some stuff around just so I could say I actually looked. Because I knew my dad would ask, and I couldn’t lie to my dad. 

  And, although I had feared the cool kids would laugh at and taunt me, it was so much worse than that. I didn’t even know that there could be something worse than cool kids laughing at you. But there was: they just….ignored me. I wasn’t even worth their laughter. I was that pathetic. 

 Me, feeling dejected

 Then the bell rang, and I walked to class in a cloud of shame, fear, and self-loathing. On my way there, one of my (few) friends chased me down and told me something was stuck to my sweater. Thinking she was just talking about all the trash, I ignored her. But she was insistent. Finally, I slowed down and let her pluck the offending object from my person.  The offending object being, of course, my retainer. Turns out, my retainer was stuck to the back of my sweater the whole time

  Me, very very very happy

Me, crying. It's just all too much.

  And THAT, ladies and gentlemen is what it means to be a complete social disaster.

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