High School Never Ends

27 Jun

Do you know what I’ve discovered? High school never ends.

Why is it in “real life,” as in high school, we exert so much energy trying to impress people we don’t know, won’t ever see again after our season of random internment, and who have no financial or emotional investment in our future?

I have beautiful, white girlfriends who won’t go to a swimming pool while on vacation because they don’t have the figures they had in college anymore, and the strangers across the pool from them who they don’t know and couldn’t care a rat’s ass about, might become scornful of their cellulite or less than perky boobs. When in reality, they should be embracing Joy Behar’s classic observation of things that shouldn’t matter one iota:  “So what – who cares?”

All my baby-boomer girlfriends have better bodies than I, but even though I’m at least 50 pounds heavier (when I’m telling the truth), I have a black woman’s sensibility about this issue: accent the positive, suck in the negative, and skirt the thunderous. Then bedazzle your entire goddess self with a rhinestone cover-up and rhinestone flip-flops, and “drop it like it’s hot, baby”!

Not too long ago, my husband and I took an extended cruise in the Mediterranean.  It was the trip of a lifetime. Everything was better than we had fantasized: the weather was picture perfect, the people were warm and accepting, the 3,000 passenger ship was outstanding, the food was superb, and we were like newlyweds reveling in each other’s company. The only thing that seemed to cause just a tiny bit of consternation was the very aggressive touring itinerary (4 days of excursions, 1 day at sea, 3 days of excursion, 1 day at sea, 2 days of excursion, 1 day at sea) that we had been given. But I wasn’t overly concerned because even though I’m a “fat-bottom girl,” it doesn’t mean I’m not in good health. I’m a daily exerciser and had trained for this trip for 8 months.  I added strenuous hills to my daily, treadmill workout, climbed the stairs at work in the afternoons, and special ordered shoes a triathlon athlete would use.

What I didn’t expect and what my research never revealed was that all of our 10 touring sites were perched on the top of hills or mountains with steep inclines to protect the ancient inhabitants from marauders.  Most accesses were like scaling a wall.

Every evening we’d be given an overview of the activities for the next day.  In between the instructions for the cake decorating class and the marzipan demonstrations would be listed the information the cruise director felt we needed in order to survive our shore excursions.

  • Ship Brochure: It takes 300 steps to reach the top of your fabulous destination.  There is a cable car if you prefer or you can employ a donkey to transport you up and down the ancient stone stairs.  Wear comfortable shoes. Cost: $100 – $400/person. The ship departs at 5:30 – if you miss the departure, you will have to make your own way to the next port to meet the ship.
  • Translation: The 300 steps are straight up the face of a mountain; the cable car often has a two-hour wait, and you will miss your ship utilizing that mode of transportation. The stairs are shared by donkeys that slip constantly on the descent and leave slippery “pooh” all over the staircase from Hell. No manner of footwear is capable of keeping you upright once you lose your footing going down – you might as well kiss your sorry ass goodbye. Before you leave this beautiful island, the tour guide will make sure she dumps you in the shopping area that has only one way in and out to the stairs or the unreliable, overly-crowded cable car system. The shopkeepers will try to help you by relieving you of as many Benjamins as possible to lighten the load of your descent. Trying to balance yourself on a donkey while your hands are stuffed with chotzkies, however, will be proof-positive that you have lost your ever-loving mind — once and for all. Good luck, silly over-weight Americans!

ENTER STAGE LEFT: My husband (the Energizer Bunny), the gay couple (the extremely handsome, not-one-ounce-of-fat-on-their-bones Neil Patrick Harris and his partner David Burtka look-alikes), the lesbian couple (50’ish with similar body frames as mine whose bodies had each born children in their former lives), the grandmother from Iowa sporting a recent double-knee replacement (60’ish and looking like she could be my sister in height and weight, only Caucasian and blonde), and the old dude with Parkinson’s disease who shook so badly I thought my glasses where out of focus (who should have been anywhere but here — on the shore excursion from Hell).

Because I temporarily lost consciousness, I can’t remember at what point I lost my mind and reverted back to high school.  I do remember approaching a sky-high escalator in a museum with hundreds of other people in sweltering heat and watching the escalator break down right before my group got on.  Because there was a wall of people behind us, we were forced to go forward and mount a circular ramp that seemed like twenty flights of stairs that shot straight up to the heavens. The lesbian mothers, the grandmother from Iowa, the quivering dude, and I stared at each other in total horror! Hadn’t we just climbed 300 steps the day before and 200 steps the day before that, as well as an unexpected 100 steps in a museum that wasn’t listed?  Didn’t the brochure assure us there would be no more steps to climb? I could have sworn someone said we’d catch a break today.

All I know is that my husband, who has the ability to walk faster than most people can run, took off up the ramp to find the tour guide who was nowhere to be seen.  As our group began to ascend the inevitable, the gay boys began telling us about a rather large, fat-bottomed woman (whose ass was the size of Cleveland) who couldn’t make it up the last ramp in the previous city, and they just couldn’t understand why people didn’t read the ship instructions about the strenuous nature of the excursions.

  “I mean, really now, why can’t they ‘just say no’
if they’re too fat to complete the course without looking like they’re going to
die,” said our Neil Patrick Harris look-alike cruise mate. “Personally, I feel like making an announcement tonight at dinner over the PA system.

 ‘Really people – know your limitations;
because you need to cut the rest of us some freakin’ slack.

  We’re having heart attacks here just wondering if you’re gonna’ have a heart attack right in front of us'”!

The lesbian couple, the grandmother, the tremulous old man, and I gingerly laughed along with the boys, but we silently heard the “Rocky theme song” roaring in our ears (or was it the blood rushing to our heads before the onset of major strokes as we secretly wondered if they were talking about us?).  We took off up the incline like thoroughbreds at the Kentucky Derby trying to match the gait of the boys, leaning almost at a 45 degree angle to balance our bodies on the slope. As I passed the old man at my road-runner pace, his eyes widened in terror as his lips mouthed, “what the fuck?” but my team and I had to leave him in the dust.  Beating the Adonis-looking boys was all that mattered, even if it meant moving at the speed of light and losing a soldier along the way.  These bodies had born children and nursed babies. The fat on our asses, our low-hanging breasts, and puff-n-stuff stomachs were badges of honor.  Maybe the gay boys had children but they sure as hell hadn’t “had” children.

The grandmother dropped out about two-thirds of the way (clutching her side) and gasping for air. My lesbian sisters and I made it to the top without dying, but I had a Charlie-horse in my ass that wouldn’t quit. As the girls and I high-fived each other (sisters, hangin’ tough!), I could see (being the chubbiest in the bunch) that I had impressed the boys. What they didn’t know was that I couldn’t say more than two words without gasping for air or I would keel over and die.  I didn’t dare speak without great measure.  I knew if I tried to articulate more than one five-word sentence, I’d be the gay boys’ prophecy come true: one fat-bottom woman careening into their perfectly fit, athletic bodies and knocking them back down the slope like a giant snowball from on high.  So I took out my Blackberry, nonchalantly leaned against the museum wall, and pretended to check messages as if I were some high-muckety-muck at a Fortune 500 company and the business couldn’t live without me.

“Some hike, huh?” said the boys.

 “Uh, huh. . . .” I whispered, as I pretended to be caught up in some crucial work problem.

“Great ship, isn’t it?  What’s on your agenda tomorrow?  We’re going rock climbing!”

 “G-r-e-a-t!” (tap) “Me doing” (tap) “pool” (tap) “volley-ball” (tap).

“Excellent!  You go, girl!”

The next day found the quivering old man glued to a walker while arduously climbing into the hot tub (he was still there at dinner time).  The lesbian couple, the grandmother, and I met up at the spa first, and then we subsequently found our separate “quiet” corners around the adult pool and spent the afternoon hiding from our handsome gay boys — sipping rum punches, and napping the day away in our “rockin’ bathing suits.”

I’ve discovered that if my girlfriends (old and new) and I ever want to shake the specter of high school, we need to travel at the beat of our own drummer, because it’s the condition in which we arrive at the final destination, not the opinions of others, that really matter.  And Joy Behar really is an oracle whose mantra we should adopt when the high school spirit tries to make us forget the amazing women that we have become: So what – who cares!

“To avoid criticism do
nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

Text and pictures by Eleanor and John Tomczyk, copyrighted 2011

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


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17 responses to “High School Never Ends

  1. Kirsten

    June 28, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Oh my word… Brilliant. I want to go on your next adventure–just to hear your commentary about it!

  2. Sondra

    June 29, 2011 at 3:48 am

    Can I ever relate!!!
    I laughed out loud……..keep writing can’t wait for more!

  3. thesoontobemurrys

    June 29, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    so glad you’re back in my life even if it’s not in person! this blog is fabulous and i can’t wait for more! xoxoxo betsy

  4. V Payne

    June 30, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Now, that’s I’ve finally picked myself up off the floor from laughter; ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS. I wanted more; I wanted to keep reading; oh, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you, but I hope to via your blog. Thank you for this moment of humor and honesty. When is “our” next trip? I pack lightly. v payne

    • etomczyk

      June 30, 2011 at 11:45 pm

      V Payne:

      Thank you so, so much for your graciousness. How incredibly sweet! How did you hear about my blog?
      I plan to post every Saturday by midnight. I won’t this weekend because we just sent out all the broadcast mailings to friends, family, and fans. Hopefully, the blog will wet your appetite for my book, When Monsters Come Out to Play and when it is published, you’ll unfortunately go on the craziest journey of your life.

      Have a wonderful weekend. God bless! Eleanor

  5. Travelguy

    July 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I have not had this much fun in reading something as this in such a long time.
    Your writing skills took me where you were. I cannot wait for more.

  6. V Payne

    July 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Hi Eleanor, Happy Friday; we both have in common a very wonderful and special friend GW. I’m truly looking forward to your blog and yes, my appetite is “wet” for your upcoming book; I’m full of anticipation; you already have an order for at least 10 books; I want my friends to take the “craziest” journey with us; I want them to experience your humor, wit, and wisdom.

    May God continue to Bless and keep you and your family safe.

    Happy 4th of July!!!!

  7. L Rettig

    July 1, 2011 at 9:20 pm


    I heard your voice in every word I read my dear friend. You truly are an inspiration and I can’t wait to read your next post, and yes, once your book comes out I’ll snatch that up as well. Thank you for sending me the link and know that I’ll be an avid reader of each and every post.

  8. Brenna Larson

    July 3, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Witty, wise, wonderful…and hilarious! You have two fans in Connecticut…my husband and me. Keep on blogging!

  9. marfdrat

    July 4, 2011 at 4:16 am

    My friend posted a link to your blog on Facebook. I was intrigued by the title of the blog, but read every word because it was good. Looking forward to your next post.

  10. Anne Lemieux

    July 6, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Hi Elenor…I love your blog…cant wait for the next and I can’t wait for your book!!!! Long time, no see…hope you are doing well:)

  11. Sondra

    July 7, 2011 at 12:11 am

    The stories just keep getting better! I was left once again wanting more! Keep writing and posting I look forward to the next….

  12. Stephanie in S.A.

    July 8, 2011 at 6:30 am

    You are a wonderful writer Eleanor! I really felt like I was there with you. I can’t wait to read more. Of course you’ll have to let me know when your book is out, who knows how long it will take to get here.

  13. Mary McManus

    July 10, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Very funny, refreshing outlook, I loved your take on life!

  14. Linda

    July 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Dear Eleanor,
    Murphy invited himself to dinner last night and hasn’t had the decency to leave. It’s after noon, now, and no end in sight.

    I had the temerity to purchase a room air conditioner–the smallest size available so that it would be NO TROUBLE to install. That beast has been in and out of our window about 8 times as, you guessed it, Murphy applied his law at every step of the [not exactly crystal clear] installation instructions. Seven hours and counting (not including the sleep we lost trying to envision how to solve the problems).

    It was as we thought we’d conquered our last mountain that I sat down to read your blog. You had me laughing in no time (even though C. subsequently stood up under the unit outside and cut his head, found that his screw driver was too short, and we noticed that (after an hour of applying foam weather seal) we can still see daylight around the edges (imagine regiments of little gnats, spiders, mosquitoes, etc. enjoying the cooler air).

    So, C will start his day in the middle and I will hope I can still finish preparing to host the friends we haven’t seen in 20 years—but we’re laughing again! Just the feet dangling inside the wing curtain could have done the job!

    Maybe we’ll actually glance around and find what God-Murphy had in mind all along!

    Keep on writing, laughing, loving, and dispensing wisdom!

    • etomczyk

      July 12, 2011 at 5:53 pm

      LOL! That is priceless! The “Great Air Conditioner Debacle” would make a great short story. Thanks for giving me a chuckle and reminding me never to go near home improvement projects which are definitely one of my Murphy arenas. I am hopeless when it comes to upgrading anything in my house. Thanks so much for your reader support and giving us all another chuckle. Cheers!

  15. SBGB

    August 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    You have a great voice – you kept me engaged, entertained and reflective!


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