wilder than I thought, or, rebels without a clue

Wait, wasn't everyone like that back then?

I keep having those moments. I figure everyone about my age--the people who hit twenty or so just before AIDS, and that's key, really--had the same experiences as I did. Turns out there are fewer of us than I thought. Or maybe many of us are now pretending it didn't happen that way because we have kids and don't want them to know the truth.

Didn't everyone my age buy good humor bars when we were kids? Didn't we all capture fireflies in bottles to send to NASA only to find out that if they ever did buy fireflies it was a decade earlier? Didn't we all try pot at some point? The RA at our dorm had a bong chart on his door, dang it. Didn't we all hitchhike at least once? Didn't most of us lose our virginity when we were fourteen or fifteen? Weren't we all involved in at least one unenthusiastic orgy? (Defined as three or more people, I guess.)

We all had to try something like 'shrooms at least once and spend the night feeling gross and wishing the colors on the Indian bedspread would stop squirming. Sure, and we all had at least one one-night-stand (Mine turned into a marriage that's lasted 21 years so far, but it was supposed to be a one night stand. I didn't learn his last name until a couple of days later when I called him at work looking for "Mike" and was asked which one? Oh.) We all went to the beach with a car load of people and ended up necking with someone whose first name we didn't know and never found out. We only stopped because the police showed up.

Come on. Admit it. You know you got too drunk at least once, too. The good thing is, you got so sick, the guy trying to feel you up lost interest and took you home. And if he was a professor? You never took a class with him even if you were interested in the subject because it would be Too Horrible to look at him. Not because of embarrassment (not in those days, not at that school) but because it's like the taste of Southern Comfort. His face gave you flashbacks to nausea.

Here's the thing: I was never wild.

No, really. I wasn't popular and I'm a physical coward. I wouldn't even jump on on the chair for PE. I got in trouble in class because I wouldn't try. (Didn't we all have to jump on the chair for PE?) But when I hear other people talk about their teen and early twenty years, I realise whoa, momma, I was some reckless woman!

Who knew? I thought I was like everyone else, only less so. Must have been art school or something. Or maybe my memory is less selective? You guys are pretending you never were idiots when you were young. Or I'm making things up?

Heh. Speaking of making shit up, I think I'll go put in one lie and you'll never know which one it is. That way I can save the shreds of my reputation, as if I cared. But the thing is, back then we all did this stuff. And it wasn't considered immoral. Really. We might have been considered stupid, maybe by older people and our smarter peers, the ones who were exceptional. Exceptional, get it? As in they were not the rule? We were normal. It was different back then, dammit.


  1. I kept waiting for my kids to go wild and do stupid things - but they just grew up, got their driver's license, and went to college. They don't even smoke or drink.

    French kids are so strange.

  2. Weirdest thing I ever did involved MJ, beer, and Eraserhead. It was fun, but it didn't really push the envelope. As for weird sex stuff, I keep asking, and the wife keeps saying no. Oh, well.

  3. I didn't do about 7 of those things!! The others I did more than once!! Not saying which is which!

  4. I'm not your age, but I've done the drug things and none of the sex things, though hope springs eternal *snrrrk*. The 'shrooms were fun, though, and not at all gross. Nothing squirmed, and I didn't hallucinate--I just felt pleasantly tickly all over and had a heightened appreciation for sensory data.

  5. Gawd. There are only a handful of things on your list that I can say, "Yep," to. How depressing.

    But I was the proverbial Good Kid...didn't drink, smoke or carouse until I went to Uni. Hell, on my 19th birthday (legal drinking age here), I sat at home in my bedroom doing nothing. One friend was underage and couldn't go out with me, and the other lived too far away (45 min across town) and didn't have a car.

    Oy. I choose not to redelve into my unsordid past because it's depressing. :D

  6. My husband and I have a real problem: we ran away and joined a circus, met there, left, then married and had kids.

    What in the world are our kids supposed to do to rebel against us? Become investment bankers?

    (I had the nickname of Ivory Snow when I was in the circus--had no freaking clue what half the people were doing right in front of me. Never did drugs, only drank a little beer here and there. Extraordinarily clueless. The husband has much more, eh, experience than I in these matters.)

  7. Okay, okay... I'm older than you. I did all of the things on your list and more. I'm glad I came of age when I did, even though I'm old now. (cue music) Memories.... oh never mind, I can't remember the words. Short term memory's shot thanks to all those ummmm, experiences.

  8. oh thanks a lot, ferret. Now you've shoved barbra streisand into my brain. Let's all suffer together, shall we? At least those of us of a certain age. . .

    Light the corners of my mind
    Misty water-colored memories
    Of the way we were
    Scattered pictures,
    Of the smiles we left behind
    Smiles we gave to one another
    For the way we were
    Can it be that it was all so simple then?
    Or has time re-written every line?
    If we had the chance to do it all again
    Tell me, would we? Could we?
    Mem'ries, may be beautiful and yet
    What's too painful to remember
    We simply choose to forget
    So it's the laughter
    We will remember
    Whenever we remember...
    The way we were...
    The way we were...

  9. A lot of people do have very selective memories. Case in point is a friend of mine, who now tells everybody who wants to hear that she met her one true love at age sixteen, eventually married him and had four kids. Totally disregarding the seven other true loves she had before the one she married, how she was stalked by one of them, threatened to kill herself over another and feared she'd caught AIDS from a third. Not to mention the pregnancy test which she'd allegedly stolen from someone else (I actually bought that story).

    That said, I really wasn't all that wild as a teenager. Hitting puberty at the height of the AIDS panic put a crimp into the whole sex thing (plus, I had the bad example of my friend) and I didn't smoke or do drugs, because I found both rather disgusting. I did drink, even at a very early age, but then Germany isn't as panicky about teenage drinking as the US, thank God. The only other "bad" thing I did was play around with an Ouija board, which was considered the inevitable first step on the road leading to satanism, sacrificing virgins and suicide.

  10. Although I didn't plan it, I think I was smart about my rebellion: I saved it until I left home. In college on scholarship, in England as a guest student, and then married, I did what I wanted because I never felt any pressure. I knew that, worse case, if things went weird, I would not have to explain things to my parents, apologize, and beg for money. I was out of their hair, being the good (educated married absent) daughter, and they were out of mine. Nice! I think I'll encourage my girls to take that path.... Do it - that's fine - just out of my sight / responsibility.

    Thanks for stopping by, Kate!


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