Today I walked past a seventh grader that towered over me by at least four inches, but that wasn’t the only glaring difference that made me stop and think. Did I look like that in seventh grade? Did I carry myself with that much confidence while sporting expensive designer clothing, flawless make-up and a bag that my forty year old self would consider grabbing and running away with? No, I admitted sadly to myself, as I pictured with perfect clarity the dorky, metal mouthed Farrah Fawcett wannabe that I was. We had no idea what was out there over the horizon when we were more concerned with hopscotch, itchy wool uniforms and super new suede Gass earth shoes. Imagine if we had known then, that in the future there would be a way to de-frizz hair, wear clothing that didn’t physically hurt, and take more than one shopping trip to the mall a year.
I was remembering my youth fondly as I strolled along and then a memory that had been tucked away for years surfaced. My best friends Vicky and Julie had tried for months to form a “best friends club” that included only us and they were racking their brains to decide on a symbol that represented the three girls involved. “You know, something that when you see it, everyone totally thinks of us!” chirped Vicky.
No one could agree on a proper avatar that fully encompassed each girls essence so after a grueling two weeks we decided we would each pick our own and that would be “our thing”. Julie was the first to offer up her choice and it was a no brainer. “I pick unicorns!” she shouted at the first opportunity. Of course, if you knew Julie you would know that she chose the most delicate shade of lavender to paint her tiny bedroom and then she had hand sketched a floor to ceiling mural of a white unicorn rearing up in front of a fantasy castle. I envied her talent which far surpassed mine and realized Vicky and I were going to have to step up our game to nab the next best fantasy creature. Soon enough Vicky announced her choice. “I’m going to go with rainbows!” she yelled in the hallway while we changed classes one afternoon. Sure enough we were in her downstairs bedroom the next week with cans of multicolored paint trying desperately to paint within the near perfect lines Julie had sketched out for her in pencil on the walls of her room. To top it off her rainbow ended in fluffy clouds and even changed surfaces arching all the way up to the middle of her ceiling. She had changed the game plan ,by stepping outside the mythical creature realm we had agreed upon, there were now a whole list of things real and imaginary I could choose from. “How about hearts?” I wondered aloud, even though I had no idea how hearts related to me or why I would offer something like that as an option. “Nah” was the response.
What was I going to do? There was no freaking way I was going to lose my membership in the damn club over something so simple and certainly didn’t want others to look at our choices and spend endless hours laughing at the one I chose for myself.
I eventually went with a dual representation, the bumble from the beloved Rankin/Bass claymation Christmas classic “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and the Mon Chi Chi. If you were born prior to 1970 this one needs no explanation.
Eventually, the best friends club imploded and we ended up with daggers sunk deeply in each others backs, like all good girl friendships from middle school. Julie and I kept in touch throughout high school and into our twenties, but Vicky I never saw again after twelfth grade.
The times they are a changin’ and kids seem so worldly now so aware of things that we only began to discover in our late teens. I took a last look at the supermodel tall seventh grader and concluded the last time she’d even given rainbows, unicorns or yeti’s a thought was probably in kindergarten. I hope my daughter remains blissfully naive for at least a few more years, but my last trip with her to Hollister to shop for clothes tells me that soon this era will be coming to an end.