I think it is true that the main reason why people were drawn to Mack was because she was a crazy cool kid who had absolutely no desire to be popular. She was always just who she was, comfortable in her own skin; and she never altered her personality, her interests, her wardrobe, or her beliefs in order to win friends or to fit in with a particular peer group. She possessed such a cool confidence in her abilities and her convictions at a very young age. Yet she was never boastful. She never used her accomplishments in sports or other venues to gain acceptance or advantage. She never violated her personal principles just to go along with the crowd. It is a rare teenager who rises above all of the drama, but my unflappable Mack was a special kid.
I think it is true that the main reason that Mack’s friends loved her was because she was a crazy cool kid who also always embraced her inner nerd. She possessed that athletic swagger, but she could trip over her size 10 shoes and make a joke of it. She publicly showed her love for Harry Potter, Glee, Selena Gomez, and Taylor Swift (or T-Sweezy, as Mack and her best friend Justice called her), even though she endured a fair share a razzing for doing so. Mack was confident and smart, but she was never afraid to act silly and enjoy herself. She did not care who might see her suck in her lips, hike her over-sized basketball shorts way up over her chest, or hear her rip out a big, juicy belch. She was just a real kid who was dedicated to keeping it real.
Last weekend, I came across an autobiography that Mack prepared for a class in sixth grade, and I was reminded of one of my favorite Mack-is-a-Dork stories. When she was a student at Franklin Middle School and did not have a sports practice, she frequently walked home from school with her friend and cohort in nerdy crimes, Maggie. Maggie is the daughter of my dear friend Alicia, and the girls grew up together. One night at dinner, Alicia mentioned that she had come home from work that day to find Maggie and Mack eating couscous and playing their band instruments on the front porch. Now what makes this story particularly funny to me, is that Mack NEVER practiced her trumpet at home. In fact, she hated playing the trumpet. But I have little doubt that she played it loudly and vociferously for the neighbors on Ivywood Drive and took great delight in the spectacle.
I know it is true that two of the things I miss most about Mack are her cool confidence and her comfortable dorkiness, which combined to characterize her joyous spirit. She understood who she was, and she was incapable of pretense. She loved to be silly and to have fun regardless of who might be watching. She understood how important the simple pleasures of life could be. It really is no wonder why people were drawn to her cool side, fell in love with her nerdy side, and held on so tight to the friendship and fun she offered us all.
Page from Mack’s 6th grade autobiography, featuring Baby Mack and Baby Maggie….
Too cool for school Mack and Maggie…
Below is the picture that Mack chose for the Springfield High School athletic website for the “Meet the Seniors” section. Do you see what I mean when I say she did not care what people might think? She was always herself, and that was always enough for me!