Monday, August 14, 2006

More Middle School: Girls to Girls

Having discovered this amazing resource of primary documents, I can't just immediately refile them. This time, I'm interested in some of the notes girls passed to me in middle school--which represents by far the majority of the archive. And what interests me here is how my female friends pressured me into manufacturing crushes on boys so that we could talk about something, anything, as we were dabbling in primitive methods of social organization.

My recollection of the time is that I liked being around boys, but that I really didn't want to do anything more with any of them. After all, I wasn't supposed to date until I was 16. I clearly wasn't very good at expressing and explaining this prohibition because I ended up conducting weird flirtations with boys I didn't really like, which resulted in awkward kisses I didn't really enjoy and then "breakups" I felt guilty about after--and then, in eighth grade, I started hanging out more with the less popular crowd who liked to read and write stories about dragons and robots, and everything got a lot better.

So, two notes from girls below the fold, spelling and grammar carefully preserved.

1. From a childhood friend who at the time of this note, in 6th grade, was pretty and popular.

Dear [Jackmormon],

Hi, I'm in a big mess. I ♥ F., but he's mean to me, writes notes to other people saying bad things about me (I saw one) + he goes on dates with other girls! He blew up when I wore S.'s starter.* He said wearing a starter symbolizes true ♥ then I find out 1) He won't let me wear his 2) He let B. and Y. wear it!

But after all this, I still ♥ him! What should I do? Well enough about me let talk about you! You don't really ♥ C., you ♥ M. But you just don't want me to embarras you...right!? OK well if that's the case I'll try not to embarass you! I'm just trying to help you flirt!! Sorry for being a friend! Well as you can see I need mental help.... HELP!
P.S. I actually wrote you!

2. From the ur-pretty-and-popular girl in 7th grade, the girl everybody else's notes talked about. This might be the only note I ever got from her.

Dear [Jackmormon],

Hi Sweetie! What's New? What's up? What's down? Holly shit everything in the world is down with me!! I mean seriously there are knew guys at this stupid fucking school!

I mean I guess some guys are cute but really there are either total nerds or your two close of friends to do anything with them! But I guess we'll just have to wait!!!! So who do you like? About the slambook** your not exactly a Prude! You'll just have to do something with someone, soon, REAL soon! Well sorry this note is so stupid & boring But Hey I'm a stupid & Boring Kinda gal!

Love Ya Lots,

Marginalia: "Life is 2 short" "[Middle School X] sucks" "A teenage love!" "I ♥ ?" "[Middle School Y] rules" "Guess products -4-ever!!" "Keep it cool" "Keds" "Fila" "Troop" "N.W.A" "Eazy-E" "Esprit"

*Starter jackets were an important commodity in 6th and 7th grade. They were lightly insulated bomber jacket-style windbreakers with various sports teams insignias. Maybe the boys cared about who wore which team's jacket, but the girls looked for 1) does he have one, 2) is it a hideous color, and 3) will he let me wear it. It would have been unthinkable for a girl to buy her own because the whole point of wearing a Starter jacket was that some boy loant it to you.

**There was a bit about a slambook in the note I typed up last post (which I mislabelled as being a sixth grade note), and, fortunately, I found a barely completed slambook in my files, so I can explain what the hell this was. Basically, it was a bound notebook, each page of which had a quiz question, like "which girl is pretty?" or "what do you think about A.?" Each person was supposed to sign in on the first page, and then, as the slambook circulated, everyone got to guessing about who wrote which response. I'm guessing, from the pseudo-solicitous notes and from the slambook that abruptly stopped circulating and landed into my files, that I didn't enjoy this practice.


Anonymous Anonymous:

Welcome back, Jackmormon.

This is a fascinating topic. Trying to figure what was on the minds of middle school girls took up most of my time, at the time.

My research was limited because I was white-knuckle shy.

I remember having a world-consuming crush on the prettiest girl in 6th grade, which lasted, I think, until last Thursday. No, actually, I still had a thing for her all through high school -- even when I had a steady girl friend. For some reason, that didn't seem strange.

Anyway, she was popular even beyond normal popularity; by 10th grade she had ascended to some Olympus of popularity -- beyond cheerleader status -- beyond homecoming Queen -- it was hard to describe.

She had a boyfriend who went to a private school. I, of course, had the personality of a stick. Other people had pimples; I had sudden outbreaks of rampant, exploding apostrophes.

Then, the list appeared. Rumor had it that this girl, I believe in 10th grade, had made a prioritized list of boys she liked, I guess, to keep in reserve, in case. Of what, exactly, who knew?

I really didn't want to know anything about that list. It was a big high school and ending up not being mentioned, while 300 other guys were, would have sent me into a tailspin, as my mother liked to call it when I would try to hang myself every other week (kidding).

But one day, in class, a girl turned to me and said, "you know, John, you're 7th on the list."

To cut this short, I've never felt better about being 7th in anything in my life. Of course, barring horrible "Carrie"-like accidents or some sort of plague introduced into the school's water system taking out the top six contenders, I didn't stand any better chance than if I was #300.

But still, 7th.

Of course, I never saw the list.

It's cool that you have those notes.

8/15/2006 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Marilee Scott:

Anyway, she was popular even beyond normal popularity; by 10th grade she had ascended to some Olympus of popularity -- beyond cheerleader status -- beyond homecoming Queen -- it was hard to describe.

There was a girl like this in middle school, actually, the girl who wrote note #2, but by high school, I don't think I recognized any signal pole of popularity. Or, maybe, like you, I didn't want to know my ranking.

8/15/2006 04:20:00 PM  

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