Guess what? I was a loser in junior high. Omfg, I know. Who wasn’t? Even the cool kids were total losers* when you look back. Why? Because everyone was between 13 and 16, and at that age, 98% of people can be described with one word: awkward. The other 2% are those people you still hate today because they look hot right when they wake up with no makeup on and they don’t sweat when they work out (and they don’t even have to work out, but they do because they want to). You know the ones.

So I got picked on a lot. Mostly because I was the fat kid, but also because I was what I would call “semi-goth” – I was totally obsessed with Marilyn Manson and I tried to wear cool goth clothes and makeup, but I mostly didn’t fit in the clothes. Lucky for you, I’m not really talking about bullying today, because (a) I haven’t had enough (see: any) therapy to work my shit out, (b) it would take way too long, and (c) I’m tired of the word “bullying” lately.

I’ve never been much of a breakfast foods person. Only in the last year or so have I warmed up to the idea of toast. Not a huge cereal fan. Pancakes are too much work. Don’t even get me started on waffles. And I’m vegan, and scrambled tofu takes way longer than scrambled eggs, so file that along with pancakes, etc., etc. I do, however, enjoy dinner foods very much.

One morning my mum was making a delicious pasta salad for my brother and I to take to school for lunch. It smelled so good I decided that I would much rather eat some pasta salad for breakfast than toast, so I dug in.

Oh, yeah. So tasty.

And then I went to school without brushing my teeth. Probably because I was lazy, but also just because I was a dumb (and awkward) teenager.

Stop judging me; it was a long time ago.

Oh, also, I’m Portuguese. We like Mediterranean flavours, A.K.A. garlic.

So I get to school and make my way to my first class, which was science (groan), and I’m waiting in the hallway and one of the cool (see: loser) guys in my class starts going, “Ugh, what’s that smell?”

A lot of white people don’t eat garlic, guys. A lot of white people hate it.

I pretend I have no idea what he’s talking about, because quite frankly, at this point, I have no idea which smell he’s referring to. Teenagers are pretty gross. It could be anything.

But then he goes, “Ugh, it stinks like garlic. Can you smell that?” and other cool loser kids start to agree with him and I start to breathe as shallow as I can possibly breathe, because I am still in the present I am now looking back on, so the cool loser kids are still just cool kids and I don’t want them to hate me anymore than they already do.

So I casually pop some gum into my mouth and pray for the best.

A few minutes pass, but the cool loser isn’t letting go.

He’s like, “God, seriously, can you guys smell that? It’s like garlic and spearmint. So gross. Can you smell that?”

And looking back, I’m sure he probably knew exactly who it was coming from and was just trying to mortify me, but in that moment all I wanted to do was pretend I didn’t exist, get into class and sit as far away from him as possible. (Well, I wanted to go home, curl up into a ball, and die, but you know what I mean.) And I’m sure that’s what I did, but I don’t actually remember what happened next. It’s irrelevant, anyway.

Brush your teeth every day, kids. (And adults, because ew, but you should know better by now.)

xA

* Not an insult if it describes everyone. Consider it a term of endearment.

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