Monday, September 19, 2011

Teenage Wasteland

Decorating the inside of your locker was the thing when I was in junior high. There were no computers with graphic design programs and no high speed printers when I started 7th grade in 1977, so my girlfriends and I had to rely on back issues of Tiger Beat, leftover Christmas wrapping paper, brown grocery bags and magic markers we used to doodle our names in the same plump, psychedelic fonts we'd seen on record albums.

There was a recurring theme in the decorating style of my fellow pubescent girls: lots of swirly flowers, a few carefully concealed 4-letter words, budding fashionista collages of Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley, the ever-classic "Hang in there Baby" kitten, some Charlie's Angels poster shots, more than an occasional bible quote. (This was, after all, predominantly Southern Baptist Texas.)

And then, there were the photos of boys. Most of us were too young for boyfriends. While a few cheerleaders were already going steady with the jocks they'd break up/make up with all the way through high school, the rest of us made due with altars to those famous boys who paved the way for this generation's Justin Beiber. Shawn Cassidy was well-represented, along with his Hardy Boys co-star Parker Stevenson. All of the popular girls had pictures of Leif Garrett and the Bay City Rollers. The cooler girls featured Peter Frampton and Roger Daltrey. The really bad-ass girls had splashy shots of KISS and Tim Curry. As far as I know, I was the only one with a picture of Che Guevara.

In this age of Facebook and smart phones, I'm sure locker decorations have fallen out of style, but the same archetypes are still part of middle school: the popular girls, the cool kids, the misfits. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't at least one offbeat girl at South Pas middle school with Che Guevara's picture as wallpaper on her laptop.


Anonymous said...

This is so well written. I love all of your stuff.

Judy Williams said...

I laughed out loud, spurting coffee when you said "I was the only one with a picture of Che Guevara."

Like Anon said, this is so well written. Although I was a decade before and we didn't do much to adorn our lockers, it did take me back to middle school and high school days.

Thanks for a stroll down memory lane.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I kept my "loves" carefully guarded. 7th grade was as mean as it got.

Trish said...

beautiful piece and photo.

I remember these lockers, tho not the colorful banner or window dressing, from my time at the JrHigh. I remember the same hot guys taped to lockers, the same jocks and cheerleaders making up or breaking up. I don't recall Che Guevara, tho I'm guessing Mr Haste would have required anyone to remove such a photo. A number of us had statements in support of the hostages in Iran on our lockers or notebooks. I didn't take flack for that, but I did for my pinup of Billy Joel at a piano. When asked why I had him in my locker when he wasn't cute like Shawn Cassidy I merely replied "I love his music, need there be another reason?". Ergo, the beginning of my being outside the cool circle into the practical circle. Guess that's why I'm standing, watching the Bieber hysteria wondering what the deal is, and wondering what the next big hysteria is going to be?

Green Guy said...

Love this.

Virginia said...

Nowadays, they buy all the "locker accoutrements" and have sucked all the decorating fun out of it. Loved this piece girl.

Gary said...

You've totally outdone yourself, Laurie. You've triggered memories, in detail I'd perhaps rather forget, of several awkward years for me. And yet: I never knew a Che girl in junior high.

Laurie said...

Thanks, everyone!

Arguing Guy said...

Hmmm. Doesn't look like much has changed since my day.

The color of the lockers. That's the school colors right? The memory grows dim. Tigers? Or was that the high school?

Oh 6 years back or so I looked at the middle school's (jr. high in my day) website.

I could hardly believe Mr. Hall was still there and was Veep.

Surely retired now. Yes, those were rough times growing up and I was a little surprised later on in high school when some people I was coming up with and I thought were well-adjusted middle-school wise had as deep-seated aversion to the place as I had.

Now my kids are almost through middle school and I just don't see that visceral response. Oh well they keep a lot from their parents. They're trying to separate, deal with things in their own way, which is what we did.

Arguing Guy said...

Teenage Wasteland???

Oh my that's such a fitting title.

Geez "Whos Next" was even one of my fav records back then.

TheChieftess said...

When I went to high school, our school was in the process of being torn down and replaced by an ugly modern sophomore year, my girlfriends and I decided that since the building was going to be torn down that summer and was basically condemned even though we were still attending school there...we decided to spray paint our lockers sea foam green!!!

Did I mention we got in big trouble???

T.C. said...

You're right, we (sadly) don't decorate lockers anymore D: at least not 4yrs ago when I was in middle school.
But you're wrong to assume I don't have a Che Guevara pic on my computer :)
You have good taste, wonderful photos, and an enviable knowlege and love for South Pas. Thank you!