When I was in middle school, I was embarrassed by typical things that kids are expected to be embarrassed by: kissing my parents goodbye in the school parking lot, geeky clothes, that sort of thing. Totally within reasonable limits don‘t you think? I do. Once you get to high school, all bets are off and while you still are embarrassed by those reasonable things, there is a whole new list of stuff that makes you want to do like the ostrich do and bury your head in the sand until those four miserable years are up. I suspect that the things that are mortifying for students in one part of the country may be less so for students on the opposite coast, but I could be wrong.
Here is a partial listing of the things that were off limits in California in the early 90‘s:
– Having to ride the bus to school
– Worse than having to ride the bus to school, having to sit in the front of the bus
– Being dropped off/picked up at school by your mom or dad.
– Really the only cool mode of transportation was to either drive yourself or hitch a ride from a friend. Extra cool points if you rode sitting on the bench seat of your boyfriend‘s truck so that a slip of paper couldn‘t fit between his leg and yours.
– Bringing a lunch from home
– Eating a school lunch in the cafeteria
– Really the only way to be cool at lunch time was to buy a Taco Bell burrito or cookies from the snack counter.
– Dropping a tampon/pad while digging through your backpack for an algebra book
– Not being asked to Prom, or Homecoming, or Winter formal.
– Worse than not being asked, being asked by the President of the debate team.
– Wearing Birkenstocks without socks. (You read that right. Birkenstocks were only cool when worn with socks, at least in 1992).
– Being in band
– Being on drill team
– Being a flag girl
– Really you were only cool if you were a cheerleader, football or basketball player, dancer, or Aggie
If you were a student at PRHS at any point between 1992 and 1995 any of the above applied to you could pretty much count on spending your Friday nights watching Star Trek reruns with your band friends.
Back in the day there was also one car that was so utterly and completely uncool that should you ever be in the unfortunate position to be seen driving/ riding in one, you could safely assume that at school the following day you‘d have a reserved seat in the cafeteria where at least the lunch lady would take pity on your unfortunate situation and dish you up a heaping helping of mystery meatloaf. You’d sit alone there amongst throngs of drama geeks and what we then called Mods but have now become known as Emo‘s. Even they would shun you though because the shame of the Pinto was that far reaching and widespread.
During my freshman year my family came upon some hard times. My dad‘s really cool Toyota truck with the turquoise and hot pink pin striping was promptly, though discreetly, collected by the nice man at the bank who wasn‘t exactly understanding, shall we say, of our unfortunate situation. My dad, though, still needed a means of transportation. I betcha can see where I‘m going with this.
Yep. You guessed it. There was enough in the family budget to pay cash for a Ford Pinto. Oh, and wasn‘t I thrilled when they brought that bad boy home. You might be wondering what color it was right? I mean, at least it was gray or black so as to sort of blend into the background and not call a lot of attention to the monstrosity parked in our driveway.
Nope. It was orange. Bright-as-day pumpkin orange. It looked suspiciously like this.
From time to time I had no choice but to ride in this vehicle. I remember it smelling like Pinto. The seats, I believe, were white with orange detailing. This I remember because on the rare occasions when riding in it was unavoidable I would bend at the waist and bury my head between my legs, my face smooshed against the leather (or vinyl more likely) seat. I would stay that way for as long as we were in the car so that nobody could see me through the windows. You wouldn‘t believe what I would have given for some tint on those things.
I realize now how entirely self-absorbed and insanely materialistic this type of behavior was. My only excuse is that I was a teenager and much of my self image at the time hinged on what was considered acceptable and not so much so by my peers.
Okay, so anyway, all of that was brought to mind by a recent conversation I had with Kennedy (my stereotypical redheaded daughter). Precursor to this story is that her older sister has been wearing deodorant for quite a few years. Though a skinny little thing older sister Torri started producing some serious B.O. at an early age. It really was enough to knock a person out with one whiff. Anyway, Kennedy does not seem to have inherited that same trait. Get this though, she wishes she had.
I know. Crazy doesn‘t even begin to explain it.
The following is an excerpt of the conversation we had that brought my shameful Pinto memories to life again.
Kennedy: Mom, can you check if I need deodorant yet?
Me: Um, (insert a slightly puzzled sideways glance here) I don‘t think you do babe.
Kennedy: Well, can you check?
Me: I‘m pretty sure I would have noticed in passing if you had B.O., kay?
Kennedy: Please mom. Please just check (as she sort of lifts one arm into the air so as to grant easy access to her pits).
Me: (Considering carefully just which child it is I‘m dealing with and coming to the realization that there is but one way to end the discussion) Sniff. Sniff. Nope, you‘re not stanky. Lucky you. Luckier me.
Kennedy: Awww. When am I going to need deodorant?
Me: I don‘t know. Why do you want deodorant?
Kennedy: All my friends wear it.
Me: How do you know that?
Kennedy: They told me. And it‘s embarrassing that I don‘t wear it.
Me: Well, just don’t tell them then. They‘ll never know.
Kennedy: Duh. I ‘m not going to tell them. It‘s still embarrassing though.
Um, okay. I don‘t fully understand the reasoning here and I doubt I ever will. Call me crazy, but when did stanky pits become a commodity for tween girls? I mean seriously, she‘s ten people. Ten.
Oh but it doesn‘t stop there. My thirteen-year-old has what I fully consider to be a skewed sense of cool (though hers does line up with that of her friends so whatever). Nowadays, cheerleading is so ten minutes ago. Oh, and since we’re talking about smelly, how‘s this for gross. It is perfectly acceptable to pull out your pair of Abercrombie jeans from the bottom of a pile of dirty clothes and wear them to school. Better that than the freshly-laundered Levi‘s hanging neatly in the closet. Because God forbid she wear Levi’s to school.
Oy vey. Pray for me people. I‘m most definitely going to need it.