Friday, November 29, 2019

Teenage Dream (Katy Perry)

It was the year 1998. More than anything I wanted to be a champion diver that made it to the Olympics. This was one dream that wasn’t going to come true. It wasn’t a matter of wishing upon a star, because no matter how hard I wished I still sucked.
A gymnastics injury had put this bizarre dumb ass teenage dream into my head. I had actually been a decent gymnast so I thought that meant I was going to be a great diver. My mom thought so too which is why I found my way to the Steel City Aquatic Club. My mom would gush with pride, “My April is learning to be a platform diver!”
Then I would belly flop on cue disappointing her. My mom, always my biggest fan, continued to edit the truth in my favor. I am not exaggerating my suckage as I have witnesses that will testify to it on a Bible in a court of law.
One girl who was a good diver as well as everything wrong in the world was Jennika Paker. Granted Jennika was never mean to me. Then again, being mean would constitute thinking that person was worth the effort and I didn’t even make that cut.
Jennika was everything I wasn’t. Aside from being a good diver, she was sleek and looked like Barbie. Her face didn’t suffer the scarring cystic acne mine did and her perfect white teeth werent cursed with braces complete with rubber bands. I struggled with my weight and Jennika seemed to keep that off effortlessly as well. In contrast to the tiny compact beings who call themselves divers, Jennika stood five eight and looked like a beautiful ethereal being every time she left the board. Whenever she landed in the aqua colored water, everyone would stop and stare. There was always a young lad that would offer to get her a towel. It was like something out of Caddyshack.
Adding to the Caddyshack reference, Jennika’s family was super loaded and belonged to the local country club where Jennika golfed when she wasn’t training at the pool. When she wasn’t golfing, Jennika was appearing on the brochure for the Steel City Aquatic Club looking perfect as ever. Her looks caught the attention of a local sporting goods store owner who not only had Jennika model in a fashion show but model on a poster for a swim suit line as well. Seeing her every time I walked in made me wish she would get to close to the board, hit her head, have her brains splay everywhere and die. What wasn’t there to hate about this bitch really?
When dirty old men saw the poster they probably dreamed of doing so nasty they would end up on an online registry and not care. When teenage boys saw the poster they probably had wet dreams where she was diving naked into their pool. Women and girls secretly wanted to be her, but she made me gag. My mom saw me wince when we walked in to buy me another bathing suit. She said, “Don’t worry about her. This won’t age well.”
“How do you know, she’s perfect.”
“Yeah, but I’ve seen her mom. The sand is going to the bottom of the hour glass once she turns 30.”
My mom was trying to make me feel better-God bless her. But the Jennika Pakers of the world just made my blood boil. I was a shitty diver, a good student in some subjects, and gained weight when I looked at a cookie. Jennika was a great diver, bragged that Yale was recruiting her, and ate a Twix regularly at practice. I was only 13 and she was 16, thirty was an eternity. So if this was even true there was an eternity of pain and suffering to go.  
I tried to dump my resentment towards Jennika, I really did. However, it lasted a short while before I overheard Jennika talking to Kelly, another diver we knew. Kelly was always neck and neck with Jennika for best in show. Jennika said, “I’m being recruited by Yale, and it seems like a lock because both of my parents went there.” (Of course they did you elitist bitch).
“Really, I’m being recruited by Notre Dame. Working on getting my SATs up.”
“Notre Dame approached me but my parents didn’t think it was a good enough school.”
Kelly said nothing. Instead, she went back to the diving board and threw an insanely difficult dive better than Jennika. In response Jennika got up and did the same dive but not as good but everyone stared and gawked in wonder. I hated this world and hoped it blew up. Or at the very least I hoped Jennika got too close to the board, hit her head and her brains went everywhere.
As Kelly got out of the pool I said, “Notre Dame is a good school. Good luck.”
“Thanks. I've been working hard. It's my dream school,” Kelly said. She was sort of shy but I could tell she needed the compliment after being ripped down by Princess Jennika.
"You'll get in."
"I hope," Kelly said as she went back on the board and executed another near perfect dive.  
While the Jennika’s of the world make you wonder if life is fair, in a way it is because shortly after that I quit diving. I sucked and it was way too much money my dad said. This was not only a victory for the diving community but a victory for all mankind really. Shortly thereafter I discovered I could talk to puppets and the puppets could talk. I also realized that I wrote funny essays that others not only enjoyed but that won awards.  I found my thing and my mom could gush without exaggeration. It was a win, win.
Jennika faded from memory as she was out of sight, out of mind, and I really didn’t care. That is, until an old friend from Steel City Aquatic Club friended me on facebook. For the heck of it, I wanted to see what happened to Kelly. She did end up diving at Notre Dame and was All American at one point. She now coaches at a small college in Florida and has a husband and a baby. I was happy as I always liked Kelly and unlike Jennika she had to work for the things she had. 
For the heck of it, I went on facebook to find Jennika Paker who was now Jennika Seymour. The woman looking at me on social media was almost unrecognizable. She was pushing 40 and looked every bit of it. The aging stick didn’t just hit her hard, it beat her to a bloody pulp. A body that once was all lean muscle and buxom now was loose skin and fat, possibly a mix of genetics and the baby weight she had failed to lose. While it comes across as body shaming and I apologize, I am writing out of shock because there was no trace that an elite athlete let alone model was ever present. My mom had been right. No only did this not age well but the sand was now at the bottom of the hour glass.
Jennika had a husband who wore a Stanford ball cap and looked like a nondescript milquetoast white dude. I wanted to caption it, “White, Republican love.” They had two kids under the age of 5 who of course had their own facebook pages because why not? And they lived in Orange County because it’s a good place for them really and truly. They took a family photo on a yacht because where else would white Republican love and their spawn hang out? The name Jennika also aged horribly too. Can you imagine a Grandma Jennika. Oh the horror! The horror!
Just as I was about to hope her yacht crashed I read a post of hers. It was dedicated to her husband Paxton Gaylord Seymour IV (true fact). The name alone made me want to troll as she began by talking about what a lifesaver Paxton had been for her. As the post went on though, she spoke about how during her sophomore year of college her mother, who was apparently bipolar, committed suicide and how the rest of her biological family was toxic. However she met Paxton during study abroad and the two clicked. Not only was it love at first sight but his family welcomed her. The post was about not only how this new chosen family changed her but how she treated Paxton’s mother like her own mother.
I hated reading this post. I hated that I had to feel sorry for Jennika, but more than anything I hated myself for hating someone who was actually wrestling with real shit. Jennika hadn’t been a celestial being, we had treated her that way because she shined for a moment in time. Maybe she had been an asshole when we were kids. I was an asshole too. We were all little assholes. And maybe Kelly knew to get on the diving board and ignore her ass because that’s how her asshole dealt with Jennika’s asshole.
I found myself glad Jennika had a constructive outlet and more than anything, glad she didn’t get too close to the diving board, hit her head, and had her brains splatter everywhere. Her home life only made her want to do that every day. For what it was worth, I was happy she was happy and was happy she was keeping herself busy managing the facebook pages of her small fries. As for her body losing it’s shape, she has two small kids and doesn’t do the workouts she used to. I’ll have to remember the shaming parts of this post if and when I have kids as it will be my kharma.

Sigh, she wasn’t perfect but the good news is I don’t hate her. Won’t be doing any rides soon on the yacht though. Aside from it being creepy if a facebook stalker asked, I suck at boats worse than I did at diving and we’ll just leave it at that. 

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