You know what book I thought of out of the blue the other day? Fifteen, by Beverly Cleary, the part where Janie is trying to knit a pair of argyle socks for boyfriend Stan and has to take out the stitches over and over again.
What I would like to know at this point, a good 25 years later, is how did I identify so strongly in the 1980s with a book in which the protagonist calls her father "Pop" and irons a dress before a date? And yet I did, and in fact I would go so far as to say it is the book that, more than any other, created my dating expectations. When I was fifteen years old myself, I arrived on the doorstep of dating fresh-faced and in an ironed dress (ironed turned-up-collared shirt, whatever), waiting for an ID bracelet. None of the boys I dated had ID bracelets, and why not? Bring sexy back, boys.
I also read Forever... by Judy Blume, and I read it at age 14 when it was getting passed around by the girls in my grade with the interesting sections pre-dog-eared, and yet that one didn't influence my views of dating. I read it with the same interest I read the sack of paperback romance novels my babysitting employer recommended to me, but didn't think to apply any of them to anything in my own life. It seemed to me that the book ended kind of abruptly: relationship, relationship, more relationshipping, off to camp and the sad necklace and the end. I was like, "Huh? How come they broke up? They seemed to be getting along so nicely." I do still remember what Michael's, er, little friend was named, do you?
I was interested in the idea of The Transition Into Womanhood but did NOT want to discuss it with my eager-to-discuss-it mother, so I think I read Judy Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret a dozen times. The discussions of various feminine hygiene product possibilities. "We must, we must, we must increase our bust" exercises. The friend writing "I GOT IT!" on a postcard and then crying in the bathroom when she really did get it. The grandmother saying that if Mohammad wouldn't come to the mountain, the mountain would have to come to Mohammad---and did they go on a shopping trip into the city? The big religious decisions she felt she should make. The...party with BOYS, and the girl with epilepsy? Or, no, I think that was another book.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...