Friday, February 17, 2012


I haven't been going back to my sixth grade year too much lately because I have a hard time remembering that winter. The school year was book marked by my dad's car accident and my growing from childhood to preteen.  I wanted to wear the huge elephant bell bottom pants, but for Christmas Mom picked out flairs. They were very nice, I prefer flair or boot cut now, but when you're eleven going on twelve, not being in the latest fad could be heart breaking. I really didn't feel empowered to complain.
Body suits were wildly popular then, too. I learned from my future sister-in-law that a shirt could stay tucked in like a body suit, if you tuck it into your underpants. So form fitting shirts, hip huggers with wildly wide and long bells created the uniform of that winter. As spring approached, belly shirts- tight fitting shirt that showed some of a girl's belly transformed the uniform with the season. By spring, I did get one outfit that molded to the Oakview Elementary unofficial dress code for cool girls. I wanted to wear it every day, but didn't.
Another popular act of sixth grade girls, at least in Mrs. J.'s class, was baby talk. The cuter the better. This, as in all mating rituals, was to lure sixth grade boys into going steady. Only a few boys seemed old enough to fall for this bait. I bet the other boys were scared spitless.
Spring also brought the hope of cheerleader try outs. My friend Sherry and I stayed after school all week in the gym/cafeteria, practicing all the gymnastics and cheers, then continued in my yard until supper. We worked hard on making cheers. I finally did my first split and cartwheel this week. But alas, my path to wild popularity stalled with not being picked for this exclusive club. I blamed my sisters, because it seemed if your sister had been a cheerleader, you were included. I couldn't admit my ability held me back, but I knew Sherry had the talent and she, too, remained out of cheerleader world.
I know I was liked and had friends, but the drive to some degree was being admired. Bringing my niece the last day of school increased my notoriety, I felt. We all signed the back of our report card manila holders. Debbie had the most requests, deciding after a few, she just couldn't sign anymore. Her little hand held up, "No more. I'm tired." We convinced her to write just her initials- DR. That pleased everyone and they called her doctor.
I learned in the spring what sex really was- a schoolyard comment brought the understanding to light. Oh, that is what is all about. Of course, I pretended I knew all along. These other girls were kind of rough. These farm girls seemed that way. This group encouraged me to smoke, teaching me to chew gum while you smoked, and then add a fresh piece after, so my breath wouldn't pick up the smell. Yeah, right.
I changed from that fall, playing with baby dolls and Barbies, to the spring,  trying so hard to get a boyfriend, any boy will do. I'm so glad I grew up in a more innocent age. The boys still immature, shy, without the expectations of today, didn't try too much. Holding hands or putting our arms around each other was the extent of going steady. Considering all the yearnings, but without the feed of explicit media, I feel blessed nothing bad happened.
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