Throughout my childhood, I tried to get into a great many hobbies and interests shared by my peers in an attempt to befriend them. Yes, you read that right. It seems pathetic and laughable now — and it is! — but back then it was of critical importance. I was rather lonely and depressed growing up, and I got picked on a lot. I figured if I had more in common with other kids, they’d quit making fun of me, and perhaps I’d become friends with a few of them. Not exactly a great plan, but this is coming from a guy who can’t even peel an orange properly.
At any rate, the whole thing was depressing back then, but now I actually find it amusing. I know I was never the coolest kid on the block, but this is still funny in retrospect. So here’s some of the pointless shit I tried to become interested in just so other people would like me.
First of all, sports were paramount. That’s an ageless thing; boys growing up are expected to love sports, no matter what era it is. When I was a kid, baseball was the big one. My elementary school had a field, and all of my peers were big Major League Baseball fans, so I tried to pick a team or two to follow as well. I distinctly remember that in seventh grade, my history teacher wanted to form a fantasy baseball league with interested students in our class. I naturally wanted to join, but due to my lack of knowledge compared to everyone else, I was laughed at by the other students and the teacher. (Quick sidenote about that guy: he made history class genuinely interesting, as he’d often pepper his lectures with funny anecdotes as well as poking lighthearted fun at kids in class. It wasn’t a big deal then, but that kind of behavior that would get him quickly fired today.)
Next up was skateboarding, another big schoolyard fad in the 1980s. This didn’t last long; my sense of balance was goddamned awful (and still is), so you can probably imagine what happened whenever I’d step on a piece of wood with wheels on it.
Beyond the sports realm, let’s move on to video games. This is a bit different, as I was interested in these on my own, but I did also used it to get my foot in the door with others, so to speak. During my childhood, Nintendo was the law of the land. I never had an NES, but most of the other kids at school did. My lack of a console didn’t stop me from absorbing as much Nintendo-related information as possible via magazines, television, and whatnot. It was a start, but I was constantly ragged on for not owning any video game systems of my own; a classic insult during the 1980s was “you can’t afford it,” and I lost count of how many times that was thrown my way.
The Nintendo thing is where I started to get a bit of revenge. See, a few of my detractors were initially friends of mine. I’d play with them after school or on weekends, but during the school day, they started to fall prey to group mentality: it was much easier to join everyone else and make fun of the dorky kid instead of sticking up for him. After that happened a few times, I no longer considered them my friends. Instead of telling them to fuck off through a veil of tears, I took a more insidious route: I pretended to be their friends, but only hung out with them when we could play video games at their houses. Other than that, I practically ignored them. Duplicitous, to be sure, but the little pricks deserved it.
It was only in late junior high and early high school that I finally said “fuck it” and just focused on the shit that I wanted to be interested in. I didn’t attain any popularity, but at the same time, I always enjoyed my hobbies. That was much more important. All the friends in the world don’t mean shit if your connections are tenuous, vapid, and based on a lie.