Sandy has never had sex. This means she's a virgin. She doesn’t even like that word and lets people assume that she isn’t. She feels lesser because of that word. Just another example of how Sandy isn’t playing the same game as everyone else.
The problem is that Sandy doesn't trust people. Sure, she trusts that they won't randomly punch her in the face. She just doesn't trust them with her secrets, fears and dreams.
And sex is just too personal. Naked and exposed in every possible way, Sandy would much rather have that random punch to the face.
She's never kissed anyone for the same reasons. Kissing someone seems like an open invitation to get closer, and Sandy has sometimes wished that she lived in a bubble.
Sandy is terrible to the people that show an interest in her. They like her and try to get to know her better. They get too close for Sandy to trust them. They get too close, and Sandy doesn't like them around anymore.
This is why Sandy stopped dating at nineteen. People can only get so close to her before she balks. It isn't their fault. Sandy has been mean, and she doesn't want to be mean again. She ends up resenting people on the sole basis that they like her.
Sandy has friends; great friends.
Yet they are only as close as Sandy is comfortable with. She needs distance in order to feel safe. The problem is that the distance she needs changes from day to day. The problem is that the distance she needs is sometimes physical, sometimes emotional and sometimes both.
This is a part of Sandy that she understands, but she has little expectation that anyone else ever will.
Sandy will wrap herself around someone’s arm one day and not be able to be in the same room with them the next. Sandy has been called a tease because of this behavior.
And in her weaker moments, Sandy really wants a hug but doesn’t know how to get one. Somewhere along the way hugs changed. They became complicated.
Sandy doesn’t understand it, but she does know that she doesn’t want to be called a tease. So, she tries not to touch.
Sometimes, she’s lonely. Lonely is better than being vulnerable.
Sandy doesn't like the office that she talks with her therapist in. For one thing, it isn't really her therapist’s own office. The walls are covered in degrees and awards with some other man's name on them.
This makes Sandy question the qualifications of her own therapist, given that she doesn't even have her own office. It makes Sandy think of a substitute teacher.
Her therapist pulls out articles from her chaotic briefcase, and it seems very unprofessional. Sandy thinks that her therapist is sloppy and inexperienced because of it.
It doesn't help that the articles she asks Sandy to read seem like they were photocopied from the world's most mediocre self-help books. If all Sandy had to do to feel better was to think about things that make her happy, then Sandy wouldn't be here.
Her therapist tells Sandy to pretend. Pretend to be happy. Pretend to be confident. Pretend that she wasn’t devastated that she woke up this morning.
What does Sandy’s therapist think she’s been doing this whole time?
Still, maybe it's that simple for other people. And Sandy envies them. She's still insulted by the almost laughable advice though.
When she gets two more photocopied articles and the suggestion that she buy a book about coping with anxiety to read for homework, Sandy's just about had enough.
Again, she wonders if it's some sort of a test that her therapist refers to the reading as homework. Sandy isn't a child. She isn't a student, and her therapist is not her teacher. Homework seems like a childish choice of wording. Even in college her professors referred to it as assignments. Homework also suggests that the reading is mandatory, and Sandy doesn't like the veiled obligation when she would read the damn book just because her therapist thought it might help.
And honestly, Sandy knows she just doesn’t like being reminded of her past; her childhood.
Sandy is an overachiever though, so she finishes the book before their next appointment. Her therapist seems surprised that she even bought the book, let alone read and annotated it throughout. It's also blatantly obvious that Sandy's therapist hasn't read the book herself. She has to skim over the copy of Sandy's book when Sandy asks her for clarification on certain terms and exercises.
Her therapist flips through the book to see all the notes that Sandy has added. Sandy watches her eyes grow wide and feels grim satisfaction.
Her therapist continues to call future readings homework.
Sandy didn't annotate the book to get a reaction from her therapist. She is serious about fixing herself and going about it the only way she knows how; obsessively, desperately, hopelessly.
Sandy's childhood can pretty much be summed up with S's and O's. While her siblings flourished academically, Sandy wilted. It's a hard thing to live with, although the sting of it has mostly tempered with time.
Her siblings were smart; extremely smart. Their teachers liked to teach them. It was hard for Sandy to learn things, and her teachers would tell her parents that Sandy was polite, nice and a pleasure to have in class. They rarely called her smart. It was a painful omission even if it was the truth.
Report cards were always the hardest. It was one thing to know of such things and another altogether to have it spelled out on paper. Sandy would open her report cards in the relative safety of her room or under duress, the bathroom. She would pray for the perfect set of O's that always greeted her siblings. Sandy knew she wouldn't get them. Even though she struggled with math, Sandy knew that B's and C's didn't add up to A's. They added up to S's.
Sandy was satisfactory to her siblings’ outstanding.
Sometimes Sandy would manage to pin down an O or two herself. Then her report cards said exactly what Sandy was in an otherwise outstanding family: SO-SO.
Her parents tried to reassure her and when that fell flat, they encouraged her. They said that not everyone was naturally gifted, and that others had to work a little harder for it. They told Sandy that she would have to work harder if she wanted these things. Sandy did. She desperately wanted these things that came to her siblings so naturally.
Sandy and her mother would work on her school work well into the night. They would sit there at the dining room table long after her brother would go to bed.
It was frustrating.
It was agonizing.
And it could take hours.
Sandy would crawl into bed and cry herself to sleep. On some mornings she would wake up and cry again because she knew she had to do it all over. Sandy would start her day crying and end her day crying. She thought there was something wrong with her.
This should not have happened. Sandy didn’t realize that. She crossed over her limits because she didn’t know any better. At eight years old Sandy was cultivating a normality that would mar her childhood and be the foundation to an unbearable future.
And Sandy never became the kind of smart that she wanted. Hard work didn't open a magic door like Sandy had hoped it would in childhood. It wasn't until Sandy's junior year in high school that she found a way to excel. She learned that she didn't have to actually understand anything. She just had to remember it long enough to put it down on paper.
Sandy wasn't very smart, but she had an excellent memory. She didn't understand most everything that she memorized, but she could very well remember it long enough to take her tests. Sandy would create shorthand codes that allowed her to memorize whole lessons. She started to get perfect scores for the first time in her life.
Sandy started finishing her tests first. Her teachers frowned at her, and some suggested that she take more time and think. Sandy didn't need more time. She didn't even need to think all that hard. It was like Sandy was stuffing herself with information and she threw it all up for the test. Sandy received perfect scores and then didn't remember a single thing.
Sandy's father said that she was cheating. She didn't see it that way. He said that she wasn't actually learning. Sandy agreed with him there but didn't know what else to do. She had finally found a way to beat the school system, and she wasn't about to stop just because of some moral ambiguity. School had never been easier. It would never be difficult again.