Oh, man. I was going to get to bed at a decent hour, but I just did a quick check of the TV line-up, and West Side Story just came on TCM. I'm doomed! I saw it when it first came out in 1961. I was all of 12 years old, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was playing at the Hartford Loew's; Hartford was very much the big city to me back them. I was with my mom and her sister Shirley (my favorite aunt). We were all raised on musicals, and none of us had ever seen anything like this before. It was stunning. And both the music and the dancing still hold up today. The dialogue not so much. Interesting little-known fact: the original play was supposed to be about Jews and Gentiles. I kid you not. It was decided that it wouldn't play outside of a Jewish audience, so they changed the main adversaries.

The movie was a huge, huge hit. I played the soundtrack so often that my dad got pissed at me. Then he decided to go see the movie himself, and the next thing I know he's playing the album. The movie was a big hit with my classmates at St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran School. We broke into two groups: the boys were the Jets and the girls were the Sharks. Because obviously the Sharks were much cooler. We'd "rumble" with big old wooden rulers during recess. It was a simpler time.

Our class got a rare trip to NYC to visit a Lutheran missionary school in Chinatown. On the way we passed through real NYC neighborhoods like in the movie. We were stopped at a light when we spied a "hood" just a little older than us lounging against a building. All eyes were glued on him in awe. He reached into the pocket of his jacket. We held our collective breath as he pulled out a … yoyo. To give him his due, he was pretty good with it. I'll lay you even odds that none of us remember anything about that missionary school, but we all remember our first New York hood.
I just spent about 90 minutes on iTunes buying old songs and getting very nostalgic. And you know what I realized? Nobody sings anymore. Or dances. Not anyone I know who's in their 40s or younger, anyway. Why? God, my friends and I would spontaneously break into song - or dance - all of the time. [livejournal.com profile] darlong and I do, too, even now. But I've never heard any of my younger friends sing (besides [livejournal.com profile] caerwynx). And never, ever dance around just for the hell of it. What's up with that? I know y'all love music.

I remember my friends and I dancing in the supermarket to the muzak or singing along with it. I still do that, btw, the singing part. And on occasion someone - my age or older - will join in, and we'll grin at each other and continue on with our shopping. There was the time, back in CT, when Carol, Robin, and I started a conga line through the housewares department at the local K-Mart. Just because the music was fun. And another woman (around our age) nearby abandoned her shopping cart and joined in. When the music ended, we all laughed and she said, "You know, my daughter would be so embarrassed by this. She thinks I'm crazy when I ask her to dance with me." We all agreed kids today are weird, and we went back to shopping.

I think we all need more dancing and singing. See to it, OK?
I had the great good fortune to be able to spend my last undergraduate semester as part of the Wesleyan University Program in Germany. (It was called WUPG and pronounced Whoopie-Gee by all of the participants.) I was thirty-five years old at that time and, of course, much older than the rest of the students. My age and the fact that I was a working-class woman who had just recently fought her way out of homelessness and poverty created a bit of a barrier between me and the young, well-off students who were also in the program that semester. Still, I managed to make friends with a few of the students. One of them, a young woman named Caroline, and I decided to take a short trip to Amsterdam during our semester break.

Amsterdam was a joy. It was a miraculous blend of modern architecture and centuries-old houses wrapped around canals and bridges and brightly colored barges. The Dutch themselves were a breath of fresh air after spending months cheek-by-jowl with the more uptight Germans. As our adviser had told us matter-of-factly before we left on our trip: "The Dutch have been wacky for about a thousand years now." He had that right. Friendly, helpful, relaxed, prone to laughter - they made me feel completely at ease being on my own in a foreign city. And yet the memory that comes first to mind when I think of Amsterdam is at once both more personal and more distressing than anything surrounding it from that trip.

Caroline and I had just left Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, and we were waiting at the corner bus stop along with about five or six other people. I'd found the wax figures to be disturbing (I've never been a fan) and the staging to be dark and disorienting, so I was happy to be out in the sunshine again. Our little crowd was mixed group, but my attention was taken by the elderly (to my eyes then) man dressed to perfection in a cream-colored suit and vest; he was wearing a hat (also light-colored) and I remember that his hat band and his tie were the same color. He was very attractive, as were all the Dutch who we saw (we used to joke that they killed the unattractive at birth, apparently), and in my memory he looked a great deal like the dashing Peter O'Toole. No one else was paying much attention to him - until he suddenly, in distress, gripped the street post; his whole body stiffened and then shuddered slightly. And he began quietly to cry.

I looked down and saw a puddle of urine forming at his feet, and his elegant pants were showing wet streaks. He was devastated, humiliated. No one knew what to do for him, and we all looked away. I didn't know whether to go to him or not, if my acknowledging what happened would just embarrass him more. The younger people were blushing and looked as horrified as he was. I don't even remember what happened after that, whether he joined us on the bus or stayed there, holding onto the post, shaking and weeping. I just know that I've never forgotten it, and I've never recovered from the shame of not knowing what to do to help him in some way. The truth was that then I couldn't imagine what I would do in those circumstances. But now I can.

I'm incontinent. I have been for a few years. It's not a big, shameful secret; it's not the end of the world. It's just a fact of life for me and for many others. To some degree it's a part of aging; it's also exacerbated by the two major surgeries I've had that moved my bladder around and left it sensitive, and it's definitely not helped by lupus, which in my case manifests in muscle weakness and nerve damage. So - I pee when I'm not really intending to. Not always, but often enough that I have to take precautions.

I never leave the house to do even small errands without hitting the bathroom first. If I'm going to be on the road a great deal, I won't take the diuretic that I've been prescribed to help control hypertension caused by disease and medications, and I'll let myself get dehydrated while I'm out and about. I also wear incontinence pads - and may I say here that I give huge, thundering applause to whomever came up with that simple but priceless idea. (I wish that the Dutch gentleman I wrote about had had access to them, but it was a different time.)

I am on occasion frustrated or (yes, I'm going to say it) pissed off when I can't make it to a toilet in time, but I am never embarrassed or ashamed. Because it's biology, not lack of moral character. I have enough things that I do consciously that cause me rightfully to be embarrassed or ashamed; I'm not taking up my time adding to that list things that are beyond my control. And I hope that neither will any of you in similar circumstances. It comes with the territory of living, and I'd rather live with it than give up the territory.

If I could go back to that day, given the experience and understanding that age has brought, I'd like to think that I would calmly approach the man and help him to someplace where he could clean himself up and regain his composure. Then I'd try to reassure him that he was not alone, and that he'd done nothing worth remorse or shame. At least that's what I hope that I'd do.

"Biology is destiny" is a controversial statement in gender studies and politics. But it holds some truth when taken as an argument for the human condition while aging. These things will happen: your hair will gray, your skin will lose elasticity, your muscles will weaken, your joints will ache. You could also have hearing loss, vision loss, mobility loss, muscle loss. None of this or their comorbidities is a failing on your part. My flist is growing up and growing older. I just thought you should hear this from someone a little bit farther up the road from you.
You know what used to be fun? Going shopping at the "Death Stah" in Porter Sq., Cambridge, MA in the dead of night. Either because of insomnia or working really late or getting a sudden attack of the munchies in the middle of a late-night yakfest with friends. The Death Stah was the local name for the big Star Market that was open 24/7. It might have closed on certain holidays. Then again, it might not have. It was, after all . . . The Death Stah.

Rock music would be blaring on the sound system. The lights always seemed brighter, like someone pushed the dimmer switch to eleven. There was usually a pretty good crowd considering the hour, and everyone was laid back and feeling that camaraderie that attaches itself to the night owls in a world of daytimers. The clerks would be restocking the shelves in a manner not prescribed by the home office unless the home office was situated in Animal House. The produce would literally be flying overhead. Whenever I hear someone yell, "Go long!" I'm immediately thrown back to the sight of fresh produce and canned goods being lofted from one end of an aisle to the other. No one ever dropped anything, either. If there was a manager on duty, I never saw one. Unless it was the guy usually hanging out in the front schmoozing with the cop who was, I'm guessing, charged with security for the store and the parking lot. There really didn't seem to be a need for one, but hey, no one was going to rain on his parade and mention it to the city council. Live and let live, that was the rule of law at the Death Stah. Well, that, and "Go long!"

*I went to a small parochial school when I was a kid. While our church was being demolished and rebuilt, church services were held in our small school gym. Services included funerals. We could clearly hear the organist and the soprano (Mrs. Jabs, she of the Wagnerian size and voice)rehearsing. "He is not dead but sleepeth" was one of the most requested funeral hymns. It got to be a running joke with us kids.
1. Outside of Christmas, Maunday Thursday was my favorite liturgical day. I was a weird kid.

2. We always went to church on the evening of Maunday Thursday. The church that I grew up in was beautiful: gorgeous woodwork everywhere, stunning stained glass windows, a very cool, very old pipe organ, and the most beautiful lanterns hanging from the ceiling. They were made of wrought iron and a heavy leaded glass that was tinted in what looked to me as a parchment wash. During evening services they cast the most warm, enveloping, soft glow.

3. Maunday Thursday had the most gruesome hymns. Slow, almost dirge-like, very powerful. I loved them. To this day I don't really own a lot of perky music. I blame it on Maunday Thursday.

4. My favorite Maundy Thursday hymn: Stricken, smitten, and afflicted
They lyrics, if you're interested )

5. For most of my youth I thought it was "Monday Thursday."

6. You know, Lutherans had great hymns. Singing was my favorite part of every service. And let me tell you, the congregation belted those babies out. Germans love to sing.

7. The pain meds have kicked in (yay!), and while they did a lot for my comfort level, they're not exactly knocking me out. Between the two? I'll take being in less pain, thank you very much.

8. It's now Friday, which makes it Good Friday. One little tidbit. I never met my paternal grandfather; he died when my dad was just a boy. He died on Good Friday, though. And although the date of Good Friday changes yearly, I always think of him on Good Friday and wished that I had had the chance to know him

9 Thus endeth the little nostalgic stroll through this portion of the Lutheran liturgical year.
I've been packing up the books in my room, but I stopped to browse through the diary I kept (sporadically) when I was 12 through 14. This one is worth repeating:

Feb. 26, 1964. Brother! I went downtown twice today to get a Beatles album. It was worth it! They're wonderful and I love all of them. This album is great. I hope they come to Conn. so I can see them. I think I'd either faint or try to kiss them. I mean it when I say I love them. I include them in my prayers & everything. I wish I could meet them! I know I'd do something rash like kissing them, but that's what love does to you. Am I Glad!

Along with my abiding love for the boys from Liverpool, I seemed to watch a lot of TV back then. There are breathless entries about The Tall Man. Surfside Six. Bonanza. Rawhide. 77 Sunset Strip. Dr. Kildare. (Huge crush on Richard Chamberlain. HUGE.) I guess there's always been a bit of the fangirl about me.

Back to packing.
I love flash mobs. And I want to marry flash dance mobs. It's the faux spontaneity that cracks me up, because there's a deal of planning for some of them, but it's the street theater that I love about it. I've seen clips of some flash mob dances and those send me into a paroxysm of glee.

Back in my 20s when I was a part of that underground theater group, my friends and I would do stuff like pretty regularly. Rarely planned ahead of time, mostly it was spontaneous. Out and about in the rain with umbrellas? Look! It's "Singing in the Rain" performed by three women with not a lot of dancing skills! We'd break into song, or fall into scenes from a play we'd been in (usually something wildly out of place) while window shopping in malls or eating in diners. Carol and I once seriously freaked out a cleaning lady in a road-side stop in Colorado somewhere by going into a Monty Python routine about putting down a cat. We didn't even realize she was there for the longest time :)

Spontaneous dancing was always fun. Actually not too long ago I was down in CT visiting my best friends, Carol and Robin. We were at a K-Mart roaming the aisles when the muzak kicked it up with a Latin beat. Without even thinking about it, we started dancing in the aisles. Next thing we know, another random shopping lady about our age is joining us. We formed a samba line and laughed and danced our way through several sections of the store before the music stopped. When it did, she thanked us, laughing. Said she'd done things like that with her friends, too; her kids thought she was an embarrassment, and she thought that they all had sticks up their asses :)

We did one piece of what National Lampoon magazine (back when it was cutting edge) called Mona Guerilla Theatre: we gathered around a sewer grate in one of our neighborhoods. Edgar (he kept the best straight face) started talking to his mother who was trapped down there. We don't know how it happened - maybe an open manhole cover - but she was down there and scared. "It's all right, mother. don't be scared. We've called for help." People gathered. My favorite part came up: "John's gone to get the canary, mother. When he gets back we're going to lower it down to you. Watch the canary very carefully, mother, OK?" Hee! Then you start slowly backing away from it until just the on-lookers are left, scratching their heads. Or there was our public duel in the park, except the guns turned out to be cream pies. Ah, good times.

I love that sort of spontaneous, joyful, goofy proof of being alive. One of the things I love about Dar is that when one of her favorite songs comes on the radio, she will sometimes swoop over to where I am in the kitchen and start dancing with me. Love. It. I pretend to grouse because that's my role in the game, but I get such a kick out of it.

Oh! Dancing with Fully Erect Mal in the parking lot of the York Hotel in Toronto on the night before WorldCon. [livejournal.com profile] sffan got in on that one, if I remember correctly. Yay! So I exhort you all to sing, to dance when the mood strikes you. And I leave you with a YouTube video of a flash dance on a London tube. (I gotta say, they're a bit uptight about it. If this was on the red line in Boston, they'd have people dancing along with them.)

When I was a kid in junior high and high school, we had two competing local AM stations: WDRC and WPOP. They'd come up with things to try to lure us to their side - T-shirts and bumper stickers and book covers, stuff like that. And then they had their clubs or groups. WDRC had the Order of the Black Socks (because white socks were gross!), but WPOP had The Royal Order of the Night People. I can't remember the DJ's name, but he was great at making up songs. My favorite was "Bats in my room". "Bats in my room. I am bothered by these bats in room." I think you had to be there to get how funny it was :) Anyway, long way around to say that most of the cats have taken up residence in my room lately, and while I'm not bothered by it, really, I find myself humming, "Cats in my room. I am bothered by these cats in my room."

Five out of eight cats agree: Mays' room is the place to be. )

My friend sent this to me. It's an actual menu from the old Woolworth's (also known as the Five and Dime) in the 50s. I can vouch for those prices and for the tastiness of the food. Most department stores back then had a lunch counter and a few booths and tables. Simple, good food at reasonable prices. There was a lot of crap going on in society in that decade, but this was one of the good things.

ETA: click on the image to get a size that you can actually read :)
I was having a restless night anyway, so my pajama bottoms were sliding down and getting all off kilter and tangled. I scooched my butt up to reposition my pants - and threw my back out. This incident is right up there with the time I slammed the car door on my head, and it trails only a tad behind the time I gave myself a bloody nose by pulling up my pants in a public bathroom. Probably the most memorable incident was when I was a young teenager, and I was returning an overflowing armful of books to the public library. I was running because my father was waiting for me in the car with then engine running; I tripped on the last step coming into the lobby, did a nifty shuffle/stumble/juggle trying to catch my balance and then went completely horizontal, rocketing through the air to come down face first in front of the check-out desk, books flying all over the damn place. It was spectacular if I do say so myself. Yup, I am one pathetic piece of humanity.

What a piece of work is a Mays, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals . . .

I can't stop grinning: Woodstock is playing on the Independent Film Channel. Yes, I was there. Yes, I have the pictures to prove it. I used to have home movies, too, but I lost them somewhere in my travels. Man, I can't believe that it's been almost 40 years. Many, many, many good memories from those days as surprising as that may sound. I mean we were in the middle of a very divisive war in Viet Nam that was tearing the country apart right down to the family level. There were assassinations and riots and bombings and huge demonstrations - and nobody was passive or indifferent or just too cool to be bothered. It was a terrible wonderful time.

I know that hippies have a bad reputation now, and I hate that. What gets shown in retrospectives or commented on by pundits and comedians are the extremes, of course. But we wanted to matter, you know? Not everyone was a rich kid drop-out, and almost everyone I knew was involved in trying to make things better at some level. That's the time period when grass roots organizing took off in a big way. Power to the People wasn't an empty slogan then. And we changed things. We got day care centers and better housing for the poor, food banks, cooperative grocery stores; I personally was involved in getting a law passed that forbade the public utilities from shutting off people's heat in the winter. (Yes, it used to be allowed.) We were involved with a capital I.


Anyway, for those who haven't heard my Woodstock story, here's the short version. I never got to see any of the concert. Wait - I did get to see Creedence Clearwater Revival playing through the rear window of my friend's car (the Zuzumobile!) as we were driving away after he and my brother rescued my friends and me after my car died at the side of the road about a mile from the concert grounds. (Huge freakin' miracle that they stumbled across us in that mass of people.) Paula and I actually had staked out some ground pretty close to the stage, but by the time the actual music was about to start, I had heat exhaustion and a massive anxiety attack from being in that huge crush of people. Paula took me to the medical tent where they immediately assumed I was having a bad trip ("Poor baby girl," I remember one of the doctors/nurses? cooing at me sympathetically) - so they shot me full of sedatives. Heeee! I was high for two days :) We went back to my car and ended up hooking up with the guys in the van right behind us; we basically spent the time there hanging out on top of their van and crowd watching. And, OK, getting stoned. Or in my case, stoneder :) I had to go to the movie to see all the music that I'd missed. Ha!

Right on, babies. Right freakin' on.
Dar and I took a whack of garbage and junk to the dump this afternoon. I love going to the dump. Yeah, I know. But really, it's very well organized there, and I feel a small but strong sense of accomplishment when I toss all those bags into the appropriate containers. Plus there's the knowledge that there's that much less junk back at the house.

I ended up tossing a lot of old photographs out as well. I've been sorting through them off and on, weeding out a lot of pictures along the way. It's kind of sad, but the truth is that they're only important to me. It's not as if I have any kids to whom I'd pass them along. No one cares that that's my great-grandfather or hey - there are my best friends from high school. When I'm gone, their relevance is gone, too. So I'm keeping only a small percentage to nudge the memory, kindle the nostalgia. (It sounds much more maudlin than it really is.)

I don't at all regret not having children. It was certainly the right choice for me given my circumstances back then. Still, it does put a big "THE END" stamp on my mortality, especially since my brother and SIL don't have children, either. They have dogs; I have cats. It's not quite the same, eh. I did have a couple of poems published back in college, and somewhere at Wesleyan are a few plays I'd written that were produced there. My soupcon of dust-covered immortality :)

And speaking of nostalgia and such, my brother just told me today that one of his best friends from high school (and a friend of mine as well) got in touch with him. Their 40th high school reuinion is coming up, but they have no intention of attending. Instead they and their third bud are planning on getting together soon. Awww. Since the two friends had the same first name, we always called them by their last names - Kelly and McCall. I haven't seen them in 35 years, I bet. I was just looking at their photos last night and wondering how they were getting on. I can't imagine either of them as middle-aged men. Because I haven't seen them in so long they'll always be as young in my memory as they appear in their photos: two shaggy-haired hippie boys :) Well, Kelly looked like a hippie; McCall just acted like one. They're both still living in the same area where they grew up, just as my brother chose to do. That could never be me. I just can't fathom not wanting to see more than my home town. Gotta see what's over that next rise, you know?

Maybe that's what's wrong with me lately. I need to see something different. Not exotic, not far away - just different. If it ever stops raining, maybe I'll kidnap Dar for the day - or even just the afternoon - and go exploring. Splurge on a tank of gas and just see what's around some of these old roads. I hate being housebound. I may be an introvert, but damn it, I'm an introvert with wanderlust. I've always loved that word. Wanderlust. It's perfect, isn't it?

And now it's time to wander off to bed. But first it's the nightly ritual of luring all of the sleepy kitty cats from my room. How did my life get this weird?
A hodgepodge.

A scattershot of the past week. )

[livejournal.com profile] longshadowsfall turned seventeen today. Seventeen! Man, I remember her as a little pre-teenie girl. As we used to say, "You've come a long way, baby" :)
It's definitely a white Christmas for us this year. Even though the past two days were warm and rainy, it didn't get all of the snow. Then late yesterday the temperature plummeted and the snow squalls came in and it's white, white, white. Pretty lovely, I must say.

We're having unexpected company this evening, but that always seems like the thing to do on Christmas Eve. When I was growing up and our big family Christmas Eve parties were already overflowing the confines of the house, there was sure to be a few extra people added to the mix. Friends of relatives, relatives of friends, sometimes not even that direct a connection as some of my cousins got older and started traveling around the world, building those nebulous networks of "My sister-in-law's boyfriend's cousin said you stayed with them for a couple nights while you were traveling through Nairobi last year. I'm going to be in your area around the end of December. Would I be able to stay with you while I'm passing through?" And the answer was yes, and the invitation to the family party was automatically extended. The more the merrier. Literally :)

So if you're celebrating Christmas, I hope it brings you laughter and a little light at least this evening. To anyone who isn't celebrating, well, be of good cheer - we're all almost back to normal time and space. Heh. And speaking of time, space, and Christmas, a little pictorial gift from the geeks of Dorking.

Star Trek decoration_0700
The Guardian of the City on the Edge of Forever with lights and sound. That's Spock and Kirk jumping through to wish us all a Merry Christmas.
We have the best vets in the world. When we had to have Mokie put to sleep, they made a donation to an animal rescue organization in her memory. We got another card from them a week ago saying they'd made another donation in Mirabelle's memory. And then . . . we got a Christmas card from them, and inside were two snowflake ornaments. One had Mokie's name printed on it and the other had Mirabelle's. I'm getting all teary again.
Me and my guys - 1973

I didn't take this photo, and I don't remember the name of the guy who did. He was a wandering photographer who thought we looked like an interesting group. It was late summer/early fall, 1973. I was firmly, madly entwined with an urban communal underground theater group called The Hole-in-the-Wall. Some of the people in this photo were the closest friends I'd ever had. One of them still is. A number have died. But I look at that picture and I feel it all again: pure unbridled joy, optimism, youth, a feeling of indestructibility, a surety that the world was mine for the taking. Happiness. Being loved. Being creative. Everyone should have a day like that. A group like that of which they were a part. And a black&white photo to remember it by.
So originally I was going to write a pissy post about how much I hate both the Republicans (in Missouri they've cut off all public funds for contraceptives for poor women because "it would have amounted to an endorsement of promiscuous lifestyles.") and the Democrats (who are such fucking cowards and so afraid of offending the fucking Republicans that they won't do their sworn duty and defend our fucking Constitution), but you know, life is too fucking short.

Fuck 'em both. (And when is Deadwood coming back anyway?)

Instead, I reminisce about my high school years. Yes, those glorious technicolor days when the girls wore their skirts to their knees and the boys wore their pants above their ankles; the Korean War was behind us, the Viet Nam War was just a whisper in our ears, the USSR was the Big Bad (although Kennedy had spanked them just a few years earlier after bringing us to the very edge of nuclear holocaust), and rock'n'roll was duking it out with Motown on the Top 40.

I went to Pulaski High School in New Britain, CT from 1964 to 1967 (our high schools went from grade 10 to grade 12); Pulaski was originally built to be a junior high, but, baby boomers that we were, we were legion and couldn't all be shoehorned into the "real" high school. The city leaders in their wisdom put my quarter of the city into Pulaski, and like the Capulets and the Montagues, the Romanovs and the Reds, the Sharks and the Jets, a bitter contention was born. We're talking emnity, folks; never was there a rivalry such as that between Pulaski and New Britain High. It was a football town, and the town warn't big enough for two teams. We're talkin' graffiti, we're talkin' egg throwing, we're talkin' bonfires. We're talkin' 1966, after all. Although one year (1967, I believe), we Pulaski Generals did intend to march across town to taunt the New Britain Hurricanes at their bonfire. We bought up every carton of eggs along our path and about 100 of us made it about two miles before the cops showed up - with huuuuuuuge German Shepherds - and turned us back. Yeah, that was about the extent of the lawlessness in our high school. Oh, except for that time when (damn, I can't remember his name!) faked his take-home mandatory diabetes test by dipping the strip in sugar water before he turned it in and the ambulance came racing up to the school to whisk him off to the ER. That worked out well for him. ::coughsuspendedcough:: And there was the occasional cherry bomb in the boys' room, but that was to be expected.

Actually, every one got along pretty well. You had your gearheads and your preppies, your jocks/cheerleaders and your nerds, and your post-beat-but-pre-hippie-pseudo-bohemians. That last bunch there was my group. But as I said, everyone was pretty laid back, and inter-dating among the groups was no big deal. It was also an integrated school, and inter-dating on that score was no big deal, either. At least not among the kids; I have the feeling that the parents were a mite less tolerant.

Tolerance stopped when it came to pregnancy, though. If you were one of the "good" girls (meaning your grades were good, your family was middle class and your baby's daddy was on the football team), you took a sudden medical leave and were tutored so you didn't miss graduating. Your pregnancy was never mentioned. Ever. If you were a "bad" girl - like one of my girlfriends - you were kicked out of school, and the school administration spoke your name darkly and prided themselves on sparing the rest of us from your bad example. It was a horribly hypocritical, mysoginistic time. Which I fear is coming back.

But not a pissy post! So, I'll stop that line of thinking. Bastards. No, really, I'm stopping now.

So, girls wore skirts or dresses to school. No pants allowed. Boys couldn't wear jeans or t-shirts. And let me tell you, wearing skirts during the winter was both cruel and inhuman. I'm surprised that we didn't get frostbite waiting for the school bus out in the wind and the snow and sleet with our naked legs. I can tell you this much: it was incredibly painful at times, and we girls would show up in school with our legs beet red and burning. Who knows, maybe it really was frostbite. Stupid dress code. And yes, some girls would wear tights or stockings, but I wasn't allowed to wear either. Besides, pantyhose hadn't been invented yet, and stockings and garters? Not as much fun as they make it look in porn flicks. Um, so I've been told.

But the music was great and gasoline was dirt cheap and my girlfriends and I could cruise in my '52 Pontiac all night on just a handful of change. Literally - we'd dig through our pocketbooks and come up with dimes and nickles to fill up the tank. And a gas station attendant would do that for us - and check the oil and clean the window. It was a different time, kiddles. We'd blast the radio (the Stones, the Beatles, the Four Tops), roll down the windows and head out to the Berlin Turnpike to join the rumbling herd of teenagers at our favorite MacDonalds. Did you ever see Lucas's American Graffiti? That was pretty much my Friday nights. No Wolfman Jack, but there was drag racing. (I usually won, btw.) I really miss those days, sometimes. Nostalgia can paint an idyllic past, but honestly - some of those high school evenings with my girlfriends (Kathy, Joanie, Paula, Barbara, Anne) were as near to perfect as life can get when you're 17.

I don't know where any of them are anymore, and my high school was made back into a junior high about 10 years after I graduated. And that's the way she goes, eh.

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