Most of the people I grew up with were the same as me. Therefore, I didn't have many different kinds of people to compare myself to. Oh, I did go to a public high school. However, I still tended to stay with the friends I had grown up with, gone to the same Episcopal church with, and spent the summers at Pawley's Island with. (Excuse the poor grammar with all the prepositions at the end of clauses and sentences! I am shivering at the sight!)
However, that was about to change the summer after graduation and before I packed my bags for Converse College (bastion of WASP and prep - as most girls schools were in the 80s). My father was friends with one of the big-wigs at the South Carolina Tax Commission and had arranged a summer job for me. That's fine, I thought. I would be home with all my friends for one last summer - and I would have a few weeks off for time at our house at Pawley's and up in the mountains of N.C. But my father had another idea.
That idea was that I was going to build character that summer. What?!?! I had plenty of character! No, my father stressed, I was going to see how the other half worked: I spent the summer of 1987 working in the mammoth file room, filing tax returns for the fine people of the state of South Carolina.
And did I ever build character. I won't go into all the backgrounds, style preferences in clothing and hairstyles, and propensity for gum-smacking I encountered. And I definitely stuck out with my pearls and Laura Ashley dresses. However, one event clearly sticks in my brain from that summer - the monumental event that opened my eyes that I was different:
I was filing tax returns in the rear of the building and came across a group of about 3-4 other employees. They were obviously having a very heated discussion about something I had no idea. Enter Bevy.
- Bevy: Hey y'all! What's going on?
- Group: Just talking 'bout L.L.
- Bevy: L.L.???
- Group: Yeah, you know: L.L. Cool J.
- Bevy (puzzled look on her face): L.L. Cool J.? The only L.L. I know is L.L. Bean!
- Leader of Group: What do he sing?
Point to ponder: Do you think L.L. Cool J. wears L.L. Bean?