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In 7th grade, a girl named Tina loved to call me Tinkerbell. She would snarl it at me and was so proud of herself each time because she had found a clever way to call me a fairy. Getting through the halls between classes was like walking through a field of land mines trying to avoid the Tinas and the Doug Wilsons.

Staring down at the ground and avoiding eye contact with anyone, fearing who my existence might offend next.

But I did have one thing going for me: at the end of the school day, I could go home and disappear. For 18 hours, I didn’t have to deal with the name-calling or shoulder slamming.

I had three live concerts on VHS: Madonna Live in Italy, Debbie Gibson’s Out of the Blue Tour and The Go-Go’s Wild at the Greek.

My mom was never home. She would work and then go play Bingo in the evening. This meant I had the house to myself. I would rearrange all the furniture in the living room into whichever formation the stage called for, and I would perform one of those concerts, front to back. Not missing a single step, breath or dance move. And I didn’t just lip-synch – I performed every song and every word of banter.

This went on for MONTHS. The same three concerts in rotation – sometimes multiple shows on the same afternoon. For those few hours, I was Madonna or Debbie or Belinda. Those afternoons saved my teen years.


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