This is the third entry in our series on Adolescence.
You may relive the first two parts below. If you enjoy, consider making a small donation.
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Part One (Rebecca Wiener)
Part Two (John Gruen)
The Saddest WASP-y Pre-Teen In The U.S.A.
by Tess Lynch
I am neither the waif in the dress nor the mustachioed young boy.
"Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others" -- The Smiths (mp3)
Most people consider the worst part of adolescence to be high school, because that's when we have to start figuring out how to make out with other awkward teens, endure endless zits which, sometimes, even our own our mothers harass us about, and get beaten up by people who disagree with our taste in movies. Surely, all of this sucks. But what about the very special horrors of junior high?
"Never Said" -- Liz Phair (mp3)
I hate everything.
"Holiday From Myself" -- Minibar (mp3)
"They Never Got You" -- Spoon (mp3)
Though my high school experience often sucked and is totally embarrassing, I would never use the word "horrific" to describe it. I would never say that each day was filled with overwhelming dread, doom, loafers and two square meals of meatloaf.
No, I didn't grow up in the fifties. It's worse: I grew up in a stuffy town in New England, and I went to one of those schools that was like a co-ed version of School Ties; maybe I'm not Jewish, and maybe the other kids weren't bigots, however an eerily high percentage of them were real assholes.
"Olympia" -- Hole (mp3)
I'm not going to name my school, for fear that the scary deans will make me go back there, but it's a vast, yet underpopulated (there were nine kids in my fifth grade class, and only two of us were girls) place where you can board (oh, my God, it would have been awful) or just arrive at 8 a.m. and stay until 6 p.m.
My fingernail marks are still on the car door from getting dropped off here in the morning.
"Let's Get Education" -- The Recoys (mp3)
I guess it all wouldn't have been so terrible -- the dress code, which involved fishing stuff out of a bin of the ugliest and smelliest castoffs if you violated the mandatory belt rule; the meals of "train wreck" which, if left unfinished, meant you had to wait on tables of twelve-year-olds who tossed little balled-up pieces of paper at you and then you were late for your next class; the mandatory two hours of team sport practice in addition to gym, and then games on Saturday -- if not for the fact that I was so uncool.
I know a lot of people who seem to have weathered our collectively retro (rarely do I mean this as negatively as I mean it here; I'm thinking retro like girdles) experience really well. Like, they had boyfriends and stuff and they were only in 6th grade. Often, people I knew made Varsity. These were not the same people who were getting crammed into trashcans and pushed down hills, or having to go to school all day on a Saturday for mandatory math tutoring.
Fuck yeah I love school.
"Going To Georgia" -- The Mountain Goats (mp3)
"Comeback Girl" -- Republic of Loose (mp3)
One particularly weird tradition at my school was a supposedly fun event called "Mountain Day."
All the other folks at school, it seemed, were on pins and needles waiting for the sneak attack announcement at morning assembly that classes would be canceled and replaced by a grueling day of combative sports. As soon as you were accepted into my school, you were assigned to one of two teams -- Maroon and Gray. Actually, it was Grey, something I won't need to explain if you yourself have spent any time in a stuffy boarding school. On Mountain Day, Maroon and Grey battled. I don't remember what the winner got. Something like a banner.
My least favorite MD game was called Yoshi, wherein a handful of kids from each team got into a pit of mud and slammed each other around until no one was left standing except the victor (not me, ever, because I soon learned that the only way to party through Yoshi was to immediately play dead, face down in the mud). The smaller (read: less fat) students hated Pass The Peanut, in which we chose the tiniest prepubescent and roughly passed him or her, hand to hand, down a hill. At the bottom they were thrown into a lake.
I had to mud wrestle Jordan Catalano. I could, like, see into his soul.
One time in fifth grade, during a discussion of The Giver and back in school after a recuperative hiatus (Mountain-Day-induced), I pondered aloud that maybe we were all being molded into athletic, traditionalistic robot children. Um, and could I miss the JV soccer tournament that Saturday?
The dude next to me, who'd been held back and was a foot taller than any of us, got up from his desk and punched me in the eye. "Knock it off," said our teacher, but I think she was talking to me.
On Saturday I sat on the bench the whole game with a black eye stealthily giving everyone the finger.
Dystopian double date, with Dad
It's not like I didn't milk my junior high experience for all it was worth. My parents even got me a pony, which is by far the coolest thing that can ever happen in someone's life; it was actually rad enough to, in retrospect, make up for all the muddy beatings, co-ed ice hockey tournaments against gigantic, learning-disabled fifteen year olds, and ill-advised twice-daily trips to Burger King (which was more like fallout from junior high and less symptomatic of it).
Teenage girls, if you're reading: the only way to get a pony is to be the most pitiful girl in your town. Cry often, and wear blue mascara while you do it. And then, when you graduate to actual high school, you'll be so hardened and cynical towards your peers that it'll be a breeze.
Tess Lynch is a writer living in Los Angeles. You can find more of her work here.
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