As a child, I had a big head, a tiny voice, and a total disregard for social cues. All young kids are oblivious at first—public tantrums and soiling one’s pants are somehow okay in infancy—but eventually most children start noticing and mimicking cultural norms. I, on the other hand, managed to glide through childhood without perceiving (or perhaps caring about) these “accepted behaviors.” To be clear, my mother tells me I stopped pooping my pants at a very early age, but she also told me not to use any form of the word poop in my book. Anyway, I just never seemed to care much about what other people were doing.
I was a natural-born drama queen, and my kindergarten classroom set the stage for one of my earliest impromptu performances. One morning as I was getting dressed for school I found myself digging through boxes of dress-up clothes instead of my dresser. And to think, all this time I’d been limiting the use of costumes to playdates and Halloween—what a waste!
Minutes later, I emerged from my room wearing a kimono, red sequined shoes, a single glove, and a curly brown wig. Had the wig been red I would have been overjoyed—Little Orphan Annie was one of my first idols—but this wig would do. It had short, uneven ringlets, and if I shifted my weight just so, I could make the frizzy curls dance around my face. The cute outfit my mother had purchased for the first day of school lay in a heap on my bedroom floor. When I announced to her that I was ready for school, she took one bemused look at me and did what any good mother would do—she handed me my lunch and drove me to Jefferson Elementary.
When I arrived, my class was already gathered for Circle Time, reading quietly on the opposite side of the room. To draw their attention I walked through the door, spread my arms wide, and struck the most dramatic pose I could think of. “Tada!” I said in a mouse-like voice as I hopped from one spindly leg to the other. The class erupted into giggles, and I felt like a champion. Mrs. Fowler wasted no time in sending for the principal—but only so she could showcase her slightly odd student.
Despite my larger-than-life theatrics, I was always quite small for my age. In the first grade, I compensated by becoming best friends with two giants named Krista and Naomi. Maybe their tall-girl instincts told them I needed looking after, or maybe I subconsciously gravitated to their protective body types; either way, we made a wicked team.
Here we are on a field trip to the petting zoo, Krista and Naomi mean muggin’ the camera in my defense.
On second thought, maybe it was our mutual love for saggy denim that brought us together.
Krista and Naomi’s parents were also best friends, so they were constantly doing things together outside of school. After a few months of playing with them at recess, the girls brought me into their inner circle of friendship by inviting me to Knott’s Berry Farm. When Naomi asked me if I wanted to go with her I was speechless. Going to Knott’s Berry Farm was considered a full-fledged vacation for my family. Apparently, to hers it was an average weekend activity, one to which she could invite friends no less!
When Naomi’s mom called that night I could hear my mom in the next room.
“Hi Clair, I was just thinking we needed to invite Naomi over again soon.”
There was a pause.
“Oh, are you sure? Okay.” My mom continued, “Thank you, she is going to be so excited.”
And just like that it was settled.
On the morning of our outing I slipped into my best saggy jeans and waited anxiously for my ride by the front door. As I sat looking out the window my mom watched from the kitchen.
“Lindsey, are you excited to go to Knott’s Berry Farm?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said smiling, eagerly looking for Naomi’s red SUV.
“I want you to tell me about all the rides when you get back. Maybe another time we’ll go together.”
“Okay,” I replied, my focus unwavering.
My mom, like most, wanted to give her kids everything and more. But she was also the kind of mom who never spent money she didn’t have. If we ran out of milk before the end of the month, we ate Cream of Wheat instead of cereal; and when we ate a lot of Cream of Wheat, we didn’t go places like the local Blockbuster, let alone Knott’s Berry Farm.
“Hey Lindsey, look at me for a second.”
Reluctantly, I turned toward my mom. She was smiling gently.
“You know I love you, right?”
“Yep,” I said quickly, but I was immediately distracted by the slow crunch of tires pulling into the driveway.
“She’s here!” I screamed, jumping up and running for the door.
“All right, have fun!” she yelled back, scrubbing a pan in the sink.
Soon after arriving at the amusement park, we realized I wasn’t tall enough for the most exciting rides. I frequently got left behind with Naomi’s younger brother, Troy. At first I was disappointed—how was I going to tell my mom about the rides if I couldn’t even get on them? But eventually Naomi’s mom started buying Troy and me special treats to keep us occupied. All I had to do was look at something for longer than six seconds and she would offer to buy it: cotton candy, churros, frozen lemonade, fry bread, and endless turns at the ring toss booth. The wonders of concession stand food were new to me. Usually, when we went out, my mom packed sandwiches that became soggy in her purse by lunchtime. Naomi’s mom had obviously forgotten to make lunches, which was okay, since she seemed to have an endless supply of five-dollar bills to fill their place.
At one point, Naomi’s mom suggested that the girls go on a smaller ride with Troy and me. Naomi looked back and forth between her mother and Krista before she replied, “But those rides are boring.” I waited for Naomi’s mom to pull her daughter aside to have a chat about being polite and, I don’t know, a good friend. Instead, she handed me another five-dollar bill and let the girls go on their way.
Before long I was stuffed, but the more I ate, the more I wanted. There was no telling when I would get another opportunity to have so much processed food and sugar, or win such ugly (but giant!) stuffed animals again. So I kept looking, and eating, and playing the ring toss. When I returned home at the end of the day I felt sick. But I was delighted by the hideous stuffed lizard under my arm. So what if I’d spent the entire day with a four-year-old boy?
Over time Krista and Naomi introduced me to other things: the Miss America Pageant, eating at restaurants for no particular reason, and the idea of getting paid for doing chores. They called that one “allowance,” and they were both shocked to hear I had never received one.
“What do you mean you don’t get paid to clean your room?”
I was also surprised to find out that a different tooth fairy visits rich people. One time Naomi received five dollars for a front tooth. One tooth! It wasn’t even that big. In fact, Naomi had tiny teeth—the kind of teeth that barely reached the cob when she ate corn. I, on the other hand, had beaver cleavers, and I was certain they were going to work in my favor. The next time I lost a tooth I asked Naomi if she would put it under her pillow, which she did, and I eagerly awaited my grand prize. Her fairy was going to be so impressed. The next day she returned with the tooth but no cash. Her fairy didn’t buy it. Disappointed, I put it under my pillow and awoke the next morning to find two shiny quarters in its place. I imagined my little fairy carrying those quarters through the night, one under each arm (which would have been much harder to fly with than a five-dollar bill), and I was grateful for her extra effort—even if the amount of money was a letdown. At breakfast that morning my mom handed me a bowl of Cream of Wheat and sat down at the table.
“So, did the tooth fairy come last night?” she asked.
I considered telling her about Naomi’s five dollars, but I was worried she might call the Tooth Fairy Office to complain, and what if my fairy got fired? I kept it to myself and answered, “Yes, I got two quarters.”
“Two whole quarters? That must have been one big tooth!”
Tell that to Naomi’s fairy, I thought. But the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated my fairy’s quarters. She wasn’t the richest, obviously, but she was definitely one of the strongest. I liked my little fairy, she did good.
The Only Pirate at the Party
A classically trained musician gone rogue, Lindsey Stirling is the epitome of independent, millennial-defined success: after being voted off the set of America’s Got Talent, she went on to amass more than ten million social media fans, record two full-length albums, release multiple hits with billions of YouTube views, and to tour sold-out venues across the world.
Lindsey is not afraid to be herself. In fact, it’s her confidence and individuality that have propelled her into the spotlight. But the road hasn’t been easy. After being rejected by talent scouts, music reps, and eventually on national television, Lindsey forged her own path, step by step. Detailing every trial and triumph she has faced until now, Lindsey shares stories of her humble yet charmed childhood, humorous adolescence, life as a struggling musician, personal struggles with anorexia, and finally, success as a world-class entertainer. Lindsey’s magnetizing story—at once remarkable and universal—is a testimony that there is no singular recipe for success, and despite what people may say, sometimes it’s okay to be The Only Pirate at the Party.
- Gallery Books |
- 272 pages |
- ISBN 9781501119101 |
- January 2016