Truth or Dare

“Fine. Dare. Damn it.”

If I knew anything at all about being in high school, I knew better than to choose “dare” in a co-ed game of Truth or Dare. The game was practically invented for bizarrely socially acceptable sexual experimentation. However, I’d been getting away with “truth” for a solid hour and everybody was getting sick of my shit.

We were coming back from a game in some town over an hour away, and the bus broke down. We had no choice but to wait for the cheerleaders’ bus to get back to school, unload and come back for us. In the meantime, those of us on the football team’s bus had no choice but to wait, pray we didn’t end up having to pee in the woods, and amuse ourselves in whatever fashion we could find. I pled an excellent case for “let’s make up a story!” but with a 3-to-30 girl/boy ratio, a game of Truth or Dare was inevitable, even if the team had to make do with the girls who taped their ankles and made their Gatorade instead of the cheerleaders. Any snack in a famine.

By the time we’d switched buses, I’d confessed such juicy details as the circumstances around my first kiss and possibly my bra size. As the new bus got rolling, everyone started feeling a certain sense of urgency. We would be back at the school soon. Something more interesting needed to happen, or we’d wasted the whole “broken down bus” situation. It would have been like playing Seven Minutes in Heaven solely to discuss societal themes in Crime & Punishment.

“You CAN’T pick truth! You’ve been picking truth the whole TIME!”

So, I took the dare, expecting something almost as benign as having to tell everybody my shoe size. I was just a sophomore, small for my age, and had the appearance of a 7th grader. I was not the football manager people wanted to take to the back of the bus and do gossip-worthy things to. I was the asexual little sister.

This would explain my minor shock when this bus of clueless teenaged boys dared me to kiss my crush. They were also sharp enough to give stipulations: at least 10 full seconds, on the mouth. There’s nothing awkward about kissing your crush on a moving school bus, in front of 30 people. Nothing.

There’s also absolutely nothing awkward about biting a hole in his lip when the bus hits a bump.

There’s really, really nothing awkward when he bleeds like a stuck pig and proceeds to address you as Vampire Girl for the rest of football season. I thought it was hilarious in its own terribly, horribly awkward sort of way.

He and I eventually went on a double date to a Mexican restaurant. I think his attendance was largely based on having lost some bet to his best friend, the boyfriend of my good friend. I was mainly in it for the food.

I kissed him at the end of the date.
Nobody bled.

A Life Before LiveJournal: Book One

When I started digging through the hall closet, I was looking for my gold jewelry. Something stored away that could match the necklace my sister gave me for Christmas, or at least the novelty class ring from high school. I found the jewelry box in a Rubbermaid container with old pictures and five other notebooks. The pictures include images of someone licking my shoe, a friend who died in 2009, and pictures of me wearing some very ill-advised hair extensions. The notebooks, written almost entirely in Pilot V5 ink, contain my life before LiveJournal.

I’m looking down at a small, black vinyl book. Screenprinted on the cover is a music staff with a heart-shaped note, and the script words “my thoughts.” This book was given to me for my 13th birthday and the lock was lost long ago, probably pilfered to be worn as jewelry. My parents probably gave me this as some kind of welcome into teenage life, hoping to help me cope with the insanity of middle school. The questionnaire in the front lists my favorite subject as “math” and favorite song as “Groove Is In The Heart.” The line for what I want to be when I grow up is blank.

What I found was a brain oscillating between schoolgirl crushes and music obsession. A world where L.A. Riots and Operation Desert Storm were footnotes to the bigger question of whether or not to attend a Valentine Dance.

Later, the world became one of escape through letters and Anne Rice books, coffee shop conversation and a raging crush on the local shit-stirrer. I remembered high school being a long, slow march through Hell. It was that, but it was also good friends, midnight movies, lost weekends and hair dye accidents. It was 1,001 horrible first dates. It was morphine-laced, post-surgery phone calls. It was getting up at 4:30 to go to Music Theory class. It was a piano and a typewriter. It was ten of the loudest little fingers you’ve ever met.

11-13-1990
“FUCK EM ALL!”

11-20-1990
“Well, I’m just sitting here listening to my Wham! tape.”

7-1-1991
“PS: Boyz II Men rule!”

8-22-1991
“I wanted to say: I don’t know – maybe because I didn’t have control – and it scared me.”

10-2-1992
“PS: Boyz II Men Rule”

6-8-1992
“I’m watching Arsenio. It’s about the L.A. riots.”

8-12-1992
“He gave me his beeper number.”

8-17-1992
“I got a CD player – it’s awesome. Now I just need to get a CD.”

6-21-1993
“When I moved, the first night I was here, I was overtaken by grief.”

7-5-1993
“I’m not used to crying everyday.”

12-30-1993
“we went out a couple weeks ago with Rob and Meagan to Chi-Chi’s.”

8-14-1994
“I feel like I’m living in a big What The Fuck moment.”

1-16-1995
“Right now I have to settle for traveling in my mind. Mostly with Louis and Lestat.”

4-28-1995
“That was back during my 3rd soul. I’m in my 4th now.”

5-23-1995
“We only speak in conversations on the desk in Pre-Cal.”
(My crush and I would comment back and forth to each other by writing on a desk where we both sat in two different periods. He never found out I liked him. He’s now living in NYC and playing in a punk band.)

5-29-1995
“Sometimes, he sounds like a Wilson Phillips song.”

6-8-1995
“I should just become a Republican and learn to play golf.”

7-21-1995
“There’s a reason why no one puts ‘prom queen’ on a resume.”

Of Coffins and Choke Holds

It’s been a few, and I feel like we haven’t talked. You all know how it is: I type when something’s eating at me and I’ve been sort of too busy lately to have anything eating at me at all. Well, nothing I can share with you. Nothing that would be “constructive” to share with you.

I’ve written a number of things I’ve been referring to a The Coffins. You gather up something that’s been eating away at you, finally say everything that you need to say, wrap it up, nail it shut and bury 6 feet deep. However, the thing about coffins is that nobody else is really supposed to dig them up and look inside. What’s in the coffin isn’t pretty and shouldn’t be unleashed.

I mean, unless I get a book deal.

So, I’m going to resort to story telling again. Maybe one day I will dig up some of the less offensive coffins and flip them open. Or open up this one huge, daunting mausoleum of a subject. Until then…

It’s sophomore year in high school. Our heroine, a small, pale lass with hair recently (and very accidentally) dyed black is walking all of her 61 inches and 99 pounds down the hall to English class. There is a test in her future. In an effort to liven things up a bit, she will use a 20-color ink pen on that test. When she receives her grade, someone will have written “multicolor pens are for 5th graders” in red ink at the top of her paper.

This is not about that test. This is about what’s coming down the hall.

What’s coming down the hall, in the opposite direction of or semi-distracted heroine, is a group of three guys. At the last minute, one of the three guys leaps across the invisible yellow dividing line of the hall to yell “BOO!” in the face of our heroine, just to watch her be startled. Like a nervous cat, our heroine jumps and then continues on to class.

While she takes her test, toggling colors in that 20-color pen (which, in hindsight, looks a lot like a marital aid), she can’t help but wonder who she has become in this first year at a new school. Atlanta Amy would never have let them get away with that. Atlanta Amy would have stood up for herself. Who is this person holding this 20-color pen?

She vows that she won’t let it happen again.

Never being a group to forget a good startled reaction, the boys spot our heroin again just two days later. This time, she has dismounted the stairs and working her way through the human atom smasher that is a crowded high school hall, going to Algebra II. She hates Algebra II. Her attendance is the only thing earning her B for the semester. Atlanta Amy was also good at math.

The group of the same three guys comes toward her again, yells in her face again. Instead of being startled, our heroine has mentally prepared. She’s physically prepared, too. When she saw them, she switched her stack of books into her left arm.

This means that her right hand is free to reach out and put guy #1 against the wall by the neck and tell him, in no uncertain terms, that she is sick of his shit. Guy #2 finds all of this terribly amusing, possibly even more amusing than startling her, until she releases his friend and turns to him with a poking finger and a mouth saying, “and YOU….”

As she pokes, she shoves him to make a hole in the now very amused crowd of students. Wait, teachers may arrive soon and that would keep her from getting to Algebra. She takes advantage of the hole in the crowd, calmly walking off to class, half expecting to be chased down by a teacher or grabbed from behind via her unintentionally black hair. Neither of those things happen. She shows up for another Algebra class, putting a lock on more much-needed attendance points.

She sees those guys together only once more.
They stay on their own side of the hall.

Connected (For Better Or Worse)

Every so often, something happens that makes me glad to be old. Well, in this instance, I should say that several things happened to make me glad that the internet wasn’t as evolved back when I was nineteen or twenty.

These days, things which keep track of our lives are everywhere. Almost everyone in America has at least one camera on his or her person at all times, usually in the form of a phone. Many of those phones even take video. Many of those phones can access the internet. Thus, it’s nearly impossible to have a lapse in judgment that doesn’t have the potential of being saved for all eternity. This is such a part of how we live that it’s easy to forget that things weren’t always this way.

When I was in middle school and high school, the internet as we know it didn’t exist. Oh, I’m sure there were some geeks in a college dorm somewhere chatting in some DOS-looking IRC-type chat room, but chatting and internet use weren’t in every home in America. Sexting didn’t exist. TEXTing didn’t even exist.

It was about junior or senior year in high school when my friend’s family got AOL and I witnessed AIM for the first time. I thought it was the coolest thing EVER. People from all over the country could talk to each other about nothing! For free! Well, sort of for free, because you still had to pay by the minute back then. And, you could only talk to a few people because nobody was online. Not the point. It was COOL!

Fast-forward 15 years, to a time when people can drunk Twitter from a phone. I’m so glad that my crazy, high-drama years were lived out when I didn’t have such an ability. When I was in my dorm room having boy-related freakouts, I just wrote those freakouts in a notebook that I kept by the bed. Now, people Twitter that stuff, putting their insanity out on the front porch like a proudly-carved pumpkin. Baby bats at goth night will have their awkward proto-goth phases captured online for all eternity. Their friends will never let them forget their “white foundation” phase. Thank God, nobody got pictures of mine.

I have great empathy for the teenagers of today, having to deal with the awkwardness and stupidity of high school, knowing that everything they do can be put online to haunt them forever. Just when you think that something is gone and forgotten, a potential boyfriend or employer Googles you and finds out about that time you peed in someone’s plant at a party. It’s no time to be a teenager.

I’m not saying that the internet is what’s finally going to make “these kids today” lose their collective shit. People have been predicting that for centuries, and it hasn’t happened yet. I’m just curious as to what kind of legacy this will leave. Will it force us all to be better people if we know that we’re always being watched? Will we get better at accepting our own imperfections? Will liquor sales decrease?

Who knows. I hope I live long enough to find out, though. I would so hate to miss the ending of the book.