My awkward stage was one for the books. I was way too tall, way too skinny, and way too delusional to fully comprehend my situation. I blame this on my parents giving me false sense of self. I thought I was hot shit… gotta love it. Once I got to middle school and I met girls with boobs, braceless teeth and shiny straight hair I kinda got it. Don’t worry this isn’t turning into some pathetic “woe is me” awkward pre-teen sob story. I hate that shit.
It has taken 23 years for me to comprehend and accept what a truly weird ass girl I am. As a kid my only weekend activities consisted of filming one woman variety shows in my garage. I had a collection of costumes, karaoke machine, wigs, fog machine and my best friend, the video camera tripod. After I had exhausted the Jackie Schimmel variety show, I moved on to documentary film making. First was “The Blair Itch Project” the tale of a small town girl from Westlake Village in the life threatening pursuit for an anti-itch cream. To say I was completely snubbed at Sundance would be a serious understatement. This shit was genius. Maybe it was because I had so many fucking cousins, maybe because I was just too entertained by myself, or perhaps a mild case of schizophrenia (#jackiebynes) I was totally living in my own world. I kept up socially at school but during the weekends I was totally off the radar. At first it was just a hobby, but then I realized I could make these hobbies more lucrative. I started selling tickets at Sunday BBQ’s, family holidays or whenever I could to see my one woman show. While everyone else was out at the mall, buying their first eye liner, wearing training bras and texting boys – I was home alone, filming in my “studio”, wearing an Elvira wig and sequined gown, dancing to “Desert Rose” by Sting. My fave song for a hot second. Totally normal.
Needless to say, I wasn’t pulling a lot of ass at school. I give myself a lot of credit, I wasn’t thriving in the looks department, my body looked as if I had run to LA from Kenya and was seriously malnourished so I had to really work the chutzpah factor if I was going to lockdown a boyfriend to walk me to class and carry my books. I had a few setbacks. Like the 6th grade Lip Sync competition. I never got the memo that those sort of competitions were extremely dorky. I basically held all my friends gun point to be my back up dancers to a fabulous rendition of “Hey Mickey”. (I hope anyone I went to middle school with has long forgotten this) I choreographed the dance and set us up in a V formation with me at the front. I felt this was a good idea since I would get to be front in center. This selfish positioning ultimately bit me in the ass. We all wore cheerleading outfits and got matching pom poms. I put my hair in pigtails and was ready to work that cafeteria. After we started our routine it wasn’t until about a minute in I realized my back up dancers had stopped dancing and were now practically off the stage. People had started to boo (but like SERIOUSLY boo) and started throwing their lunch items at me mid dance. I got hit with more Domino breadsticks than I would like to remember. Not ideal.
By 7th grade I put the kibosh on talent competitions (briefly) and got my first boyfriend. Me and my best friend Briana, made it a mission to lock down some man candy at our first fall dance. I won’t go into too many details but we had a séance, prayed to get boyfriends, and did some weird candle lighting- rose petal ritual… and it TOTALLY worked. We both came out of the dance with boyfriends. To this day, we are astonished (Briana – that shit was real). We tried to recreate our creepy little ritual a dozen times and it never worked again. With a cute boyfriend I really felt I was headed towards womanhood and my awkward stage was coming to an end. After a week of dating my 12 year old boo kissed me on the cheek and I freaked out #loser. I remember getting in to the car and getting all veklempt telling my mom “Things are moving WAY too fast” My poor mother, probably thinking I was raped behind the 8th grade lawn, lost all the color in her face. “WHAT HAPPENED?” “He kissed me on the cheek! It has only been 5 days Mom!” For the record, 5 days in middle school is like 8 months. My mother’s response? “Jackie, you really have got to stop being so prude… You are almost 13.” Another setback, thanks Mom.
After my super sexy middle school days, high school came around and I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Luckily by that time my braces came off and I started having my hair regularly blow dryed. I will forever be grateful to my parent’s for allowing me that luxury, although more a necessity than a luxury. I used to say it will be cheaper long term to have my hair blown out on the regular than the extreme therapy I will need after going through adolescence with a Jew fro, low self-esteem and my mother calling me prude.