This one is for Sharon.

Albert BrooksIn 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.

13 comments on “This one is for Sharon.

  1. Anonymous

    Oh, that’s totally awesome !! I have one of those photograhps too … you are not alone ! Thanks for sharing that – we are all laughing WITH you right now, not at you. I am sure Sharon is pleased, too.


  2. astillac

    I saw that on Flickr and wanted to kiss you I was so pleased. I LOVE this photo. <33

    We’ve all got awful school pictures… I wonder where mine are.

    – Callista

  3. Anonymous

    I think I’d be horified if someone posted my 5th grade pictures 🙂

    But, I’d eventually get over it and have a good laugh too. I just remember some of those awful haircuts that my (not so talented at being barbers) parents gave me back then.

  4. Molly

    Hooo boy, girlfriend. Let me tell you, I have some serious stinkers from my childhood too. Someday I’ll dig out and show you a photo of me from the 2nd grade, with a perm – only my bangs took, so the rest was straight – and a yellow front tooth, which had been sitting there in my mouth, dead as a doornail, since I fell on my face(!) on the kitchen floor as a toddler. Oh MY. I, um, went through some awkward phases. Here’s to putting them solidly behind us, huh? xoxoxo

  5. shuna fish lydon


    Me? I tell people we didn’t have a camera in the 70’s. No, I can’t bear it. Those big collars and way too decorated dresses? eek.

    Happy Birthday to a laughing Sharon, may all your presents be as thoughtful as this one!

  6. Paulinka

    Oh Shauna! You made me laugh and then cram out my old 5th grade picture and then laugh even more. Geeky glasses? Check. (and a smartass look behind them) Bangs? Check. IMPOSSIBLE red and black blouse? Check. Big teeth? Check. Oh heavens, I am so glad I grew out of this! 🙂

  7. Barbara

    Gluten-free girl,

    Looking forward to picking up your new cookbook. I’ve been wanting to experiment since I became GF 8 months ago, but with 3 boys I never have the time. So lucky for you to live with a chef! Yours was one of the first blogs I found,and I love it. Just went hunting for a gravy recipe with the holidays coming up and having to say goodbye to the real deal – thanks – there it is in my search – and so easy! Happy Holidays and sorry I missed your tour to Chicago.

  8. Olivia

    I grew up on Ford Avenue and went to Yorba in the late 70’s early 80’s. My Teachers were Mrs. Ridley, Mrs. Trevon, Mrs. Kendrick, Mrs. Jergensen, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Lester, and Mrs. Spaulding (She was a first year teacher)

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