In honor of my dear friend Sharon’s birthday, I am posting this copy of my fifth-grade photograph. Yorba Elementary School, in Pomona, California, 1976. (As you can see, this was the year of the Bicentennial, and my school never let us forget it that year.)
In my family — and clearly Sharon is family — we refer to this era of my life as the Albert Brooks period.
That curly hair? The home perm my mother gave me. That pastel plaid blouse with the little tie at the waist? I have no idea. I hope I didn’t choose it myself. The sly look in her sleepy eyes, caught mid-blink? I’m thinking that’s the only sign of better days to come.
Sharon and I have laughed over this photograph for the past twenty-three years. We all have them, the ones so horrifying that they scar us for life. Confession: for about fifteen years, I hid this photograph. No one was allowed to see this. I thought I still looked like this.
But there’s something powerful about knowing your story. That’s a kid with celiac, who was eating Hostess Twinkies, macaroni and cheese from a box, and McDonald’s burgers. In a lot of ways, she’s not that different from most kids today. We need to do something about that.
Now, I feel released. And it’s Sharon’s birthday. So, as a present to her, here it is. This always makes her laugh.
Me? I’m so glad I’m celebrating Sharon’s birthday instead of the Bicentennial.