Wednesday, April 15. 1992
Tomorrow there is a dance and I am actually going! My dad finally loosened up a little. I’m not too nervous (more excited, actually) and I hope that I have fun. Also, I guess it couldn’t hurt if I dance with a nice guy, or two, or three!
Let’s be honest here. I didn’t want to go to a school dance. I wanted to go to a school dance in an 80’s movie. Preferably one in the style of John Hughes, where the adolescent caste system was flexible and inner beauty would eventually shine through and win over some seemingly unattainable attractive teen.
But we all know John Hughes painted a fantasy world of what high school was really like. The dance I attended in 8th grade lacked the romance, adventure, and good music of one in an 80’s movie. The DJ played cheesy pop, rap, and hip hop that I wasn’t into, and the gym was full of students I didn’t know, which made me shy and uncomfortable. That dose of social awkwardness was enough to keep me away from all ensuing school dances until the senior prom.
Actually things are going great for me, apart from not having a boyfriend (which I won’t talk about now). For example: my grades are substantial, my friends are great and everything else is just as it should be (except my weight! Ha, Ha.). I’m pretty happy because cool things are going to happen.
Brace yourself for this “coolness.” Are you ready? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I’m probably going to day camp this summer! It will be really cool from what Didi told me (she’s going too). We go on trips every day to places like roller skating, bowling, beach, etc. There are also going to be late night trips to Action Park and Dorney Park. But wait! There’s more! There is also going to be a three day, two night trip to Washington, D.C.! This is really great! Finally I’m not going to have a boring summer. For five days a week, for eight weeks I am actually going to have (as my friend Haley would say) “Gobs of fun!” I’ll keep ya posted. See ya!
I know, I know. On the scale of Things That Are Cool, day camp might not rate highly for most. But for me, it meant finally being around kids my age that weren’t the same 200 students I was stuck with for six straight years at Hunter College High School. And I never had the sleepaway camp experience, which seemed to breed a special brand of nostalgia in those who did, but day camp seemed like the next best thing. If not even better, because I’d get to experience daily activities without the risk of homesickness or (more likely) television withdrawal. Having fun without sacrificing creature comforts seemed like a pretty cool thing to me.
I did it. I gave Hahn a note to give to Archie. She told me that he laughed and said, “Damiella wants to go out with me?” Well I’m taking that as a “no.” I’m telling myself it doesn’t matter because I’ll forget it ever happened. It doesn’t matter. It’s too bad, though. I was hoping it would be different this time. Sigh. Oh well. I’ll live. No big deal. See ya!
Of all the reactions you can get when asking someone out, laughter is not high up there. It’s kind of like that movie cliché where a guy calls a hoity-toity restaurant for a table that night and the maître d’laughs in derision to emphasize the restaurant’s popularity. That’s exactly how I took Archie’s laugh.
Even though I tried to hide my disappointment in my journal, it was still an ego blow and a letdown. Sure, I set myself up by asking out a guy I knew was out of my league. Back then I wanted to think it would have been possible for someone like him to go out with someone like me. I was fed a steady diet of romantically improbable fiction and cinema, and really and truly believed life could mimic a John Hughes movie. At least, I wanted it to.
The Hughes films that made up my adolescent core were Weird Science, the Molly Ringwald Trilogy (Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club) and Some Kind of Wonderful. All of those movies showed that no matter how quirky, different, nerdy or unpopular you are, you can still get the hot guy or gal that will see you for who you are. In Hughes’ world, the pendulum can swing either way. Popular kids can turn out to be down-to-earth, sweet, and willing to date outside their caste (Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful) and unpopular kids can show hidden talents and blossom and turn out to be rad and hot-in-their-own-special-way (Weird Science, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful), or at the very least get a makeover from Molly Ringwald that makes them generic and pretty enough to catch the eye of the dopey jock, (The Breakfast Club).
In the real world? Not so much. At least not in a school like Hunter, where you were stuck with the same 200 or so kids for six straight years. I saw a few cases of extreme talent/beauty being accepted into the fold of the popular kids, or “survivors” as they were known. However, things weren’t shaping up for me to be one of those exceptions, and the sooner I accepted that the better.
He laughed. I laughed. Then our eyes met. He glanced away. My gaze lingered. I never thought I felt this way about Archie. Even at orientation I felt this little attraction. I think it was that moment in art class that I decided considering asking him out.
It is only the first day of school, so I have plenty of time to decide.
When I read over these diary entries, I find some many of them worthy of mockery. Sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they make me cringe, but this one makes me react in a different way. It’s more akin to watching a horror movie and wanting to shout at some dimwit not to go up the stairs where the killer awaits. Or wanting to scream “WATCH OUT!” to an ignorant pedestrian stepping off a curb into the path of an oncoming truck. In this case, I want to travel back in time and tell my thirteen-year-old self,
“Don’t do it! Please, for the love of all that’s holy, decide to NOT consider asking him out. Just think of all the 80’s teen movies you’ve ever seen and understand that real life will kick your ass if you think they’re indicative of what adolescent life is really like. DO. NOT. DO. THIS!”
After the disaster of asking Justin out, I don’t know why I thought things would go any better with Archie. Especially considering that Archie was one of the most popular kids in our grade and I was… well I was going through a phase where I wore a lot of Blossom-esque hats.
I took a random moment with a cute boy, exaggerated it into something it wasn’t, and was about to do something regrettable. This could only have a happy ending on Planet John-Hughes-Movie. The problem was, I had yet to learn that I was no Molly Ringwald…
(And when I wrote “I have plenty of time to decide,” I think we all know this is going to play out real soon, right?)
March 21, 1991
Well, me and Justin are over before we began.
About two weeks ago I called Justin and he said he didn’t want to go out with me. I’m over him.
I was in the talent show today. I sang “let the river run” and I only hit 1 sour note. What was neat was that a lot of people were cheering for me and complimented me on my singing.
What wasn’t “neat” was that I had to spend weeks on tenterhooks and then initiate my own rejection by Justin. And I didn’t get over him as easily as I tried to make it sound in my diary. When practicing for the talent show, there was a part of me that hoped more than anything that Justin would be so moved by my singing that he’d change his mind and go out with me after all. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
And hey, at least this time it wasn’t a Debbie Gibson song.
I was never a major Carly Simon fan, but always loved the 1988 classic* Working Girl, whose theme song was “Let the River Run.” It plays over the opening sequence as Tess McGill (Melanie Griffin in her finest role) rides the Staten Island ferry, dreaming of a better tomorrow while she begins another day as an under-appreciated secretary. Tess takes her fate into her own hands, transforming herself into a savvy businesswoman. She’s not afraid to defy convention to achieve her dream, something I found inspiring.
Of course my way of defying convention (throwing a note out a bus window at a boy I liked) did not make my dreams of getting a boyfriend come true. Even so, I used “Let the River Run” as an anthem of hope. “Let all the dreamers wake the nation,” belted out Carly. “Blaze a trail of desire,” she commanded. I was a dreamer! I wanted to wake stuff up too! I would have to face plenty of rejection, but wouldn’t let any dumb boys tarnish my optimism. I had too many trails of desire to blaze to let a little disappointment get in my way.
* Your definition of “classic” and mine might vary.
Today I went out with Mitch and we had a lot of fun.
We saw Jason, Charles, Yanmei (the bitch!), Rose, Penny and Elaine at the movies.
What a coincidence! Really! But it was really fun anyway. And I think that me and Mitch will have something going. Also at the movies (we saw “back to the future II”) I found out that Charles wants to go with (make-out with) Rose but I know that Charles is just desperate (someone told me.) so he asked Rose and they will probably go out. He might like Rose but I still know that he’s desperate. Elaine is really upset because she really likes Charles and thought that he kind of liked her too, so now she’s depressed because she wanted Charles to ask her out. Oh well. I hope things work out between them because if they don’t things can get messy between Elaine and Rose.
Between these type of diary entries and watching old episodes of Dynasty via Netflix (if you’ve never seen a catfight between Krystle and Alexis you are missing out, my friend), I have about all the 80’s drama I can stand.
There’s nothing like going on a date only to find out that you’re being stalked by half a dozen of your classmates. That sort of thing only happens when you’re a kid or a character in a movie filled with wacky misadventures. As annoying as it was to have the group sitting a few rows behind us at the movie, I found it even more irksome that the entire crowd also followed us on the seven-block walk back to my apartment building. It gave us something to laugh about, but made the date more awkward by a factor of ten. The only real privacy Mitch and I had was the elevator ride up to the fifth floor and the three foot walk to my apartment door. There was no kiss and I don’t think we even held hands, so I’m not sure what made me believe that the two of us might “have something going.” But at least I was completely over my crush on Charles and could be a mere bystander in the unfolding love triangle surrounding him.
A few words on Back to the Future Part II. I remember enjoying the movie but feeling cheated that the it ended with a cliffhanger which reduced the film to a trailer for the third installment (the first movie did that too, but still felt more complete). I did love all the special effects, including the hoverboards, flying cars, and holographic theaters, and managed to suspend all disbelief regarding the time travel logic, so that I could enjoy the movie for entertainment’s sake. It’s something I wish I could do more often today.
I just (well a few hours ago.) saw the movie “beaches” again and it was really sad at the end. It’s about this friendship that these two girls have and one of them dies at the end (that’s why it’s so sad). It got me thinking about friendship and how I would feel if one of my good (or even best!) friends died. I would be so depressed and miserable, I don’t know what I would do.
Well let’s move on to a happier subject. Like my date with Mitch (which is tomorrow by the way.) I hope it goes all right.
Also my birthday is coming up and my party is going to have a horror theme. We are going to see a horror movie then tell ghost stories, have some food then play with my Ouija board.
In case it’s still not clear, it’s sad because of the death in the movie. Of the friend. At the end.
Ah, Beaches. For those not up on their chick flicks, Bette Midler plays a bold and brassy gal (I know, so very unlike her other characters) who forges a lifelong friendship with a sensible and cautious gal (Barbara Hershey). What could they possibly have in common, you ask? Well, not a whole lot, but you know what they say about opposites (“they,” in the late 80’s, being Paula Abdul and a cartoon cat). There’s fighting, singing, crying, dying, and more crying. All to the tune of a soundtrack sung by the Diving Miss M herself, who made us take stock and ask who the wind beneath our wings might be. Despite its somber conclusion, the film has moments of levity, plus plenty of shoulder pads, big hair, and a musical sequence about the invention of the bra (you owe it to yourself to hear “Otto Titsling” at least once in your life if you never have).
To me, Beaches is a scary movie because it shows the fragility of friendship and of life itself. However, others out there might consider it to be a horror movie because of its abundance of female emotion and sentimentality. Either way, it was not part of my impending birthday’s theme.
As I previously mentioned, my parents let me immerse myself in all kinds of media related to paranormal phenomena, but they didn’t let me watch scary movies. Nothing with Freddy or Jason or Michael Myers or anything of that ilk. Initially they forbade horror movies until I was 13, but decided to loosen up and end the moratorium a year early. Clearly, I decided to really run with the theme.
What better way to celebrate the anniversary of your birth than seeing a bunch of people die onscreen, tell stories about dead people, and then try to actually talk to dead people using a toy/instrument of the occult? Sounds like my idea of a good time!
Francis asked me out!
One of his friends is coming but I don’t mind.
We are going to the movies and they will pick me up.
I’m going tomorrow. I can’t wait.
[Addendum, no date] The date was great
I was so thrilled to be asked out on a date by a boy I liked that I didn’t question the fact that he brought a friend along.
For some reason my parents did not find it dubious either, and let me see a Saturday matinee of Batman with these two.
I wore what I thought was a terribly cool outfit: a neon green t-shirt and matching short pants with a pattern of abstract tribesmen across the hem and pant cuffs. Crimped hair and big plastic earrings were undoubtedly involved. Possibly some bangle bracelets, too.
I don’t remember anything about Francis’ friend or what the three of us talked about on the walk to the theater. At the movies, I was so nervous, I said yes to everything the boys asked. Did I want a soda? Popcorn? A hotdog? Yes, yes, and yes (it was the first and only time I ate a hotdog at the movies).
I was blown away by Tim Burton’s vision of Batman, and went to see it a second time with my parents. Later on I got a Batman t-shirt and listened to the soundtrack by Prince ad nauseam. A local video store had a Batman pinball machine and I spent many hours hunched over it that summer, playing badly.
As for the rest of the date, after the movie, the boys walked me home and I never saw either of them again. I always wondered if it was because I said yes to that hotdog.