Sometimes as you mentally drift in your dotage, do you wonder if people from your youth remember you fondly or badly or — worse yet — not at all? Do you ever wonder if people you knew then thought you were a nerd even though you thought that you were just about as hip and special as person could be?
Well, I can answer those questions today about my own life because this past weekend I stumbled across (and I think I need a drum roll here) my high school diary! Sheesh, how humiliating! I mean, there is just some awful stuff written in this little book about a five-year period of my life that was filled with a whole lot more angst than I remembered.
I always thought looking back on those days that I handled things pretty well, that I was smart and capable, a hard worker, and generally did okay. I graduated in a class of more than 350 and I did fairly well as far as grades, awards, and scholarships went. I had many friends and seemed to have a date for all of the major social events during my high school years. I remember a few boyfriends, but don’t remember that I was involved with any one guy to the point of being obsessed with him and his activities.
During high school, I worked in lots of capacities for spending money. I babysat for 25 cents an hour for families all over our neighborhood, sorted lima beans on a conveyor belt for Del Monte, sold foundation garments and women’s accessories at the local J.C. Penney store, and worked in the credit department of the Wurlitzer Piano and Organ Co. I bought or made my own clothes, didn’t own a car and was rarely allowed to use the family vehicle, and I was not allowed to be “excessive” about my time on the telephone — never longer than 20 minutes. I felt like I grew up making my own way.
As I read those snippets of my life on Sunday afternoon, I found out that my memories were way off base. I was really a nerd. Bummer! I did do okay in my classes and hit the scholarship jackpot when I graduated, but much of the rest was a fairly tale. Seems I had a crush on just about every young man I encountered in those days and — get this — they all were “neat.” Yup, that was the definitive word. Snooze-fest, right?
I did babysit for 25 cents an hour, but so did everyone else. The other jobs provided me with more spending money, but apparently I hated all of them. I discovered that I was a bit of a drama queen and that my mother and I argued because I hated those jobs and I “flounced” when we talked about the values and skills she and my dad thought I would learn. I wrote that in the diary, that my mom said I “flounced.” I think I was probably a really tedious teenager.
I also recorded the civil rights movement, the Cuban missile crisis, our church youth group going to Chicago to hear Joan Baez at a protest rally, the Kennedy assassination, the Beatles changing our music, and other events which didn’t seem historic at the time, but do now.
There was a great deal more that I discovered, but it would take more space than I have here to share it. Suffice it to say that while I enjoyed my trip down memory lane, I am most certainly glad I found the diary before The Daughters did or before they hired some auctioneer to come in and unpack all the parts of my life. It was fun to read, but it is headed for the shredder.
In here is a message for those of you reading this column — get rid of this kind of thing before the world has a chance to find out that you weren’t quite as cool as you thought you were!
— SUSAN MARSHALL