Coasting On Charm

I often refer to myself as charming. Or goddamn charming. Mostly, goddamn charming.

I am being sarcastic.

I do the same thing when I get to work and someone in my office tells me I look nice. I always say the same thing. “I am goddamn adorable.”

It occurred to me the other day, they might think I’m being serious. I mean, I like to think that after nearly 2 years, they’d get the sarcasm.

I’m not clearing it up, it just adds to the enigma that is me.

See what I did there?

Anyway, someone on Facebook said something that triggered a memory of the time my mother made me go to charm school.

Honestly, in retrospect, it clears a lot of things up.

When I was in the 7th grade, a friend and I pulled the clever trick of telling our parents that we were spending the night at each other’s house. We were staying at Tina and Beth’s house. They were sisters that I babysat for. We loved staying at their house because they would let us spray paint shit on their basement walls and would smoke weed with us. They also taught us how to do the bus stop, but that is beside the point.

I got busted.

I’m sure her mother called my mother. I don’t recall my parents checking up on me much when I was a kid. I had very few boundaries. However, when I got caught red-handed, there were consequences. Usually bizarre consequences, but still consequences.

My mother decided that the best way to cure my wayward tendencies was to send me to charm coasting-on-charmschool.

I did not want to go to goddamn charm school.

I assumed that I would walk across the floor with a book balanced on my head and learn to drink tea with my pinky out. I also suspected white gloves would be involved.

As it were, I have no idea what charm school entailed.

My mother dropped me off and said she’d be back in 2 hours. This would be the first week out of 6 that I would have to spend one evening a week learning how to be charming.

Unfortunately, someone screwed up the charm school schedule, because they had a class full of 12 and 13 year old girls itching to get their charm on, but no charm teacher or materials.

There was just a dude there and he taught driving school. So, he did the only thing he could think of.

He sat us in a dark room and showed us blood and gore movies they used to show in 1970’s era driver’s ed.

I sat this dark room, with a bunch of kids I didn’t know, learning how to be charming by watching violent, bloody car accident re-enactments as punishment for staying out all night.

I am pretty sure it made me the woman I am today.

My mom picked me up and by the time I got halfway through describing the second movie, I could tell by the look of horror on her face that my charm school days were over.

So, I guess I learned my lesson?

I am not completely sure what the lesson was, though. My mother didn’t punish me often, but when she did, it was bizarre.

My charm skills are suspect. I think it might be the blood and carnage. When I drink from a mug, it makes no difference whether my pinky is out or not. I’m going to dribble some down the front of me.

My posture is pretty good, though. It’s probably just from thinking I had to walk around with a book on my head. I also learned there are more clever ways to sneak out at night.




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  • “Charm school??” WTF??? Sounds more like a school of witchcraft and wizadry which would have been cool, not demeaning. I can think of lots of Harry Potter charms.

    My narc Narents were also similarly lax in the old boundaries department, but they would go fucking scizzo if it suited them, including physical abuse. On top of the verbal, emotional blah blah.

    No charms school for me, altho I did watch every single horror film in my teens, due to lack of appropriate boundaries.


    • Hahahah…my mom isn’t a narc, but she was raised by one and is definitely an enabler. I think it was hard for her to deal with discipline of any kind. I am just lucky I reigned myself in as much as I did. My life could have taken a much darker path.

  • I remember those movies from Drivers Ed!! I think charm school is an awesome way to teach you not to sneak out. ???? But seriously, I wish I had thought of something that tortuous when I needed some consequences for my two kids. My punishments were lame and mostly focused on getting them out of my face so I wouldn’t kill them.

  • When I got caught doing shit my parents would ground me. I guess that was easier than trying to have a meaningful conversation with me, or with each other. That taught me to be sneaky.

  • I don’t even know what charm school is, but because of this story, I shall henceforth always think it has something to do with gruesome car accidents.

    I liked this story a lot.

    It was charming.

  • Those movies! i live cheesy psa movies!

    I went to an all girls Catholic school with the all boys version separated by a fence you could reach over if you stood on a bench. Since I always had both dude & dudette friends, I would often stand on that bench to talk to my friends. One day a nun caught me doing this something I didn’t know was wrong and smacked me for do doing. (I guess she was old school). She said something about etiquette. That was the extent of my official charm schooling.

  • “Everybody’s sayin’ that I’m not so cool,
    So I’m going back to charm school.”
    That’s from the song ‘Charm School’ by one of my favorite bands.
    Anyway I think even if it had been a real charm school with teacups and book balancing you still would have turned out just as sarcastic, just as dark, and just as funny.
    I have faith in you.

  • Oh this is priceless info. Charm school dropout: The missing piece, M. lol. I, too, enjoyed a little too much freedom as a teen. I think it was just that way back in the ’70s. (And ya, I think of all the ways it could’ve gone so wrong…shudder. Makes me believe in angels.) I was very sarcastic in my younger days. I couldn’t help it. It just came naturally. I’m sure some people thought I was serious, and you know what? HAHAHAHAHAHA! (There was this priest who always visited our school and thought he could connect with students by being this unconventional, free-wheeling, sarcastic, loud, “I get you guys” kinda jerk. His sarcasm was pointed, nasty, and a major turn-off, as he used it to mock us. He succeeded in making most of us despise him, and hooking a few weak, misguided, pathetic kids into his posse. Hey, Father C, even aloof, cocky, street-wise, mouthy, shy, awkward, lonely, stressed, and stoner kids eventually respond to KINDNESS. Just saying.) I sincerely hope some of your coworkers take your comments very seriously and please, let us do the laughing with you, okay? That’s why we’re here, after all.

  • Charm school?! Maybe your mom misread and it was ‘Harm’ school given all those traumatic (?) movies you saw. Besides, you don’t need that crap. You ARE goddamn charming! (Surely made an impression when I met you and I do like you!) xoxo

    • Thank you so much, sweetness! I’m glad I made a good impression because I often blurt out really weird things when I meet someone. I mean, I guess that could be considered part of my charm. hahaha

  • I didn’t even know that charm school was a real thing that existed outside of Victorian Europe. The More You Know!*~~~~

    Although, I mean, if you’re gonna go to charm school, it sounds like that’s the one to go to.

  • I never saw those driver’s Ed movies.

    Oh well. I walk to work and live the dream working in insurance la la land.

    The only movies I remember from around that time? The ones where they showed babies. And giving birth. And C sections. And they excuses the boys if they needed to leave. Never the girls.

    Something was wrong with that. Needless to say it scared me more than the driving movies I never saw.

  • So I guess the plan was to terrify you into being charming? Dunno if that’ll work.
    Also two stories:
    When I worked as a line cook at the Buttercup in the ’80s, my night manager was Meredith the Massachusetts Moderate Lesbian, and she was da bomb. She once told me that she had been to finishing school, so I asked her if that meant she was all done…
    Later in the ’80s, we were living at “Fort Apache”, a horrible place behind the MacArthur BART station in Oakland with a lot of gang activity (Go 38th street boys!) at the height of the crack epidemic. We got to live there for almost no money on the ground floor of the three story building so someone would be occupying it while the top two floors were renovated from serious fire damage. One day my friend Jack got one of those “silent radio” programmable LED signs, which would scroll whatever text you wanted it to across a screen that was about two feet long and six inches high.
    Jack programmed it to say “Jack’s charm school and motorcycle repair”, which would scroll past and then from a blank screen the word ***B R A I N S*** would begin to flash in ever enlarging text until only one dot each from the a and the i could be seen, then it would start over. After that they started calling us “the crazy white guys” which was only half right as some of us were women.

    • HAHAHAA..OMG that is a great story…that is hilarious. I guess it’s best to have an off kilter reputation to live in a rough place like that. Or not. I wouldn’t know. I would be terrified there. Although, my first apartment was in a very seedy city across from cincinnati in KY and the previous tenant was a prostitute and I would get guys showing up waving money at me all the time. I put an out of business sig on my front door.

  • I never saw those movies until I was 17, in the Navy, just before a holiday when many of us were going home. Looking at it now I should’ve stayed on base. Why is earelephant. 😀

    Today, about an hour ago I renewed our On* subscription. (Pro tip-wait them out. When it looks like you’re not going to renew you can get a deal to renew t half-price. I’ve done that both times it was time to renew.)

    The point I’m grindingly slow at getting to here is those movies are probably mostly responsible for my On* subs. Winter’s coming, shit, it’s already snowed about 3 hours North of here, in Michigan. I think of the things that could happen to us, based upon experience.

    I recommend On* (On Star). I hope you stay safe this winter and always. Duh.

    Have fun at work. I took an old pair of boots into a men’s room stall and locked the door from the outside. Lasted a week. You could try that.

    • we just use netflix and amazon streaming. we don’t cable service at all, we gave it up around 6 years ago and never looked back.

      Hahaha…that wouldn’t work. We have a single bathroom that is shared by everyone. Except the owner. he has his own bathroom.

      • I shouldn’t assume… On* is one of those things you get in your car. Three buttons on you rear-view mirror. They’re live to an operator via satellite in case you need road-side assistance, have a critical emergency (need the police A.S.A.P.) and a couple of other things that I forget.

By Michelle


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