There seems to be a big debate out in the world right now concerning whether school gets delayed or canceled for weather more now than it did previously.
This debate seems to come up every year about this time. It takes me back to a simpler time. A time in Michigan between the Blizzard of ’78, caused by regular old winter and the large snowfalls of 2014, caused by climate change. It takes me back to a certain winter, 1989-90, when I was in 8th grade. There was not snow that winter, but endless freezing rain. Freezing rain caused by global warming that no one was talking about yet.
My life was very complicated at that time. I struggled every morning with what clothes and jewelry to wear so that I wouldn’t get teased once I arrived at the bus stop/bus/school. I desperately wanted to wear things that would be “in fashion”*. Instead, I tried for “blend in”. Usually, I achieved something just north of “you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny”. (Although, I assure you, my mom was not dressing me at that time.) Luckily schoolwork came rather easy to me, because I spent most of my time stressing about all the different cliques at my school. And if any boys would ever like me. (Seems kinda obvious now that no boys liked me in 8th grade because I had zero boobs and looked like I was about 10.) Little did I know that my future husband was still in elementary school at this time. My school looked like a prison, with tall gray walls and few windows. Gum chewing was banned. I was lucky enough to be able to say I had 6 friends that year. That is probably the only time in my life I have been able to say that.
Now that I have painted the picture for you of my day-to-day existence, I must let you know that it was the year of New Kids on The Block. Their presence in every part of pop culture had sling-shotted me into puberty. My asbestos friend and I made a daily pilgrimage to the nearby pharmacy to loiter and read the teen magazines to gain all the knowledge we could about Danny, Donnie, Joe, Jon, and Jordan. (I would marry Jordan, and she would marry Jon, and we would be sisters-in-law.**) When we had some money, we would buy the magazines for research purposes, such as the name of Jon’s dog and their bodyguards. We also hung up the pin-ups all over our rooms. What better way to memorize every line on their faces?
EVERY girl at school had a NKOTB T-shirt. So, of course, I had to get one. As all the fashion was still 1980’s-based, and I was fond of all things fluorescent. The New Kids shirt I bought had a black and white picture of each of them, accented with fluorescent yellow. On the back were hand prints in hot pink (presumably theirs), with a print of their autographs on it. I think only one or two other girls in my school had that particular shirt.
You might wonder what all this has to do with freezing rain. I’m getting to that.
I learned a trick. If you wore a risky article of clothing on a Monday, the other hellions at school teased you about it ALL WEEK LONG. So, I took to wearing risky clothing on Fridays. Then, it would be forgotten about over the weekend. By everyone else, anyway.
So, the winter of 8th grade, I always wore my New Kids on The Block shirt on Friday.
“But, they were popular?” you ask.
Yes, they were. And other girls in the school liked them too.
But just because the popular kids like the same things you did, that still didn’t mean you weren’t safe from getting teased for it. Especially if you had a reputation for being an easy target. (Please, kids. NEVER let yourself get that reputation. It will scar you for life and force you to use your blog as therapy for it.) Although I did once impress a group of girls a rung or two higher on the popularity ladder than I by showing up at school with the first known magazine of Jordan with his shirt off. Of course, they still didn’t let me be in their dissection group in biology class.
And I never knew if I would walk into school one day, and that would be the day everyone else decided that NKOTB were uncool. (It turned out that happened during the summer after 8th grade.)
So, I put on my NKOTB shirt every Friday, ready to head off to the hell that was middle school. And every Friday, for what seemed like all winter, school was either delayed, cancelled, or delayed until it was cancelled, due to freezing rain. I guess something about the roads being slippery and not thinking it was safe for the school buses to drive on them or something. I was a kid. All I knew was that my NKOTB shirt was my “lucky charm” to get school cancelled. If I wore it, I got to stay home! Or, in most cases, hang out with my asbestos friend all day.
Just because the roads were too icy to drive on, didn’t mean they were too icy to walk on, right? My asbestos friend and I would go up to the pharmacy to look at teeny bopper magazines, all the while clinging on each other as we slid along on the ice-covered sidewalks. One time the ice was so bad that she got out her ice skates and skated down the road of our subdivision (i.e. trailer court). I followed along, sliding in my boots. It was great fun, until the sun came out and melted the ice and she had to hobble home in her ice skates on concrete.
One day, I even fell down–which was AWESOME!!
You see, my mother wouldn’t let me cut holes in my jeans, as was the style at the time. But when I fell on the ice, I tore a tiny little hole in the knee of my jeans. I picked and picked and picked at that hole until it went from side to side, seam to seam. (She is still mad at me about that to this day.)
So, you see, that is how winter weather, New Kids on the Block, and fashion are all stored together in my mind.
Oh, I never got to see the New Kids in concert. Still kinda hoping my asbestos friend and I might go someday. But, I did meet one in person!***
* In retrospect, it is all so fucking stupid. We were a bunch of farm kids in Michigan. Why were we trying so hard to dress like the people we saw on TV and in magazines anyway? It’s not like we were going to grow up and be famous models or Miss Teen Michigan or anything.
** As an adult, Jordan seems very self-centered and egotistical. No longer appealing to me. And Jon turned out to be gay. I was always sure that with that high voice, Jordan would be the gay one.
*** I met Joe McIntyre! There is a picture of him hugging me to prove it, but I was unfortunately never able to actually get my hands on said picture. *sigh* Now I think Joe may be my favorite.
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