Ok, this is being posted a few days late, but honestly, are you really surprised? It’s me after all.
I like the number 12. It’s not my “lucky” number 9, but it’s still a number that gives me good vibes. But I guess I could say that I like numbers in general, especially those with some ‘magical’ hint to them.
I wanted so badly to get married or do something else significant on September 9, 1999, but it came and went with no real hoopla. When I found myself pregnant in 2008 and knew I would have to have a c-section in August, I quickly scheduled it for the 8th. My “magic” baby came into the world at 8:28 that morning and that night I drunkenly watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics (the Chinese also think 8 is a magic number). When September 9, 2009 came around I drove to Fate, Texas and mailed out my first round of query letters for my first novel.
Now here it is, 12-12-12. We won’t see that again in our lifetime. I haven’t thought too much about it. Today I had to go to the doctor and have a biopsy. I wouldn’t put that on the top of any lists on how to celebrate a numerically special day. In fact, I spent the rest of the day trying to forget the beginning of it. But now that I’m at home, lying in front of the fireplace, I find myself thinking about the number 12 and why I like it. What I’ve realized pretty quickly is that it’s not because the number conjures thoughts of a dozen cupcakes or the movie Twelve Monkeys, it’s because I immediately think about being twelve years old and that was a kick-ass year.
It was the ’80’s and I was in the sixth grade. Back then that was still considered elementary school so you weren’t thrown into the shark tank of middle school. You had one last year to be a kid and that was cool. We were the top dogs at the school- the BIG kids. We ruled the playground, the bus, and everything else in our minds. I have very vivid memories of that year and they all make me smile. So to honor this once in a lifetime event, I’m going to recount my top twelve memories of being 12 years old.
12. Recess– Hell, yeah!! Since we weren’t saddled with the social worries of middle school we still relished in our post-lunch break. Dodgeball. Oh, yes. We played dodgeball with ferocious enthusiasm and there were no worries about broken noses or lawsuits. We didn’t pick on any certain kid. We were all fair game and if you didn’t get your ass out of the way, you got hit. There was also Red Rover. I can still remember looking at the opposing line and picking out the weakest link. Strategy!! And then there was kiss chase, but because we still thought like kids we truly didn’t want to get kissed or do the kissing. Well, at least I didn’t. In fact, I was a hired gun. For a little white girl I could book it. Only two kids in the class could keep up with me and they both went on to play college sports. The other girls would have me do the catching so they could do the kissing.
11. Home perms. This should probably be put on a “childhood traumas” list but I’m one of those people who has always worked through the bad by finding the funny in it, and what’s not funny about a homemade fro? Being financially challenged, my family
was thrifty. My mom had told me many horror stories of her fuzzy-headed perms she’d had to endure as a child but that didn’t stop her from giving me one. I’m not sure if she decided it was a family tradition or a right of passage, but I still remember the hours of her rolling my hair in little plastic rods, rinsing my hair in the kitchen sink until I felt like I was drowning, and the smell of the perm solution that lingered for weeks. The result was a blonde afro that my friends described as something that reminded them of one of their mom’s Bichon dogs. Yes, I was a damn hot 12-year-old.
10. The Chicago Bears– My 6th grade year was the year the Chicago Bears were the shit. There has been no other time since then that an entire country knew the names of almost every player on a team. Has any other team cut a song and music video? Hell no. The Super Bowl Shuffle, baby. Walter, Jim, and the Fridge were household names. I loved Jim McMahon and his sunglasses. Hell, when I think about it, maybe that’s when I really started liking the number 9.
9. Magic Pimp Jacket– I got a jacket that was the quintessential bad ass ’80’s jacket. It was black satin with a silver, glitter unicorn on the back. Yes, you read right and I can feel your envy. I remember the moment I saw that sparkling piece of awesomesauce hanging on the wall of Spencer’s gifts. I knew it had to be mine and I begged for it. When I got it, I wore the freakin’ crap out of it. When I was milk monitor (two 6th graders would walk to all the classes first thing in the morning to sell milk for a dime a carton) I made sure I wore my jacket so I could hear all the younger girls ooh and ahh over it. I was the flyest milk pimp on the block.
8. Madonna– Her singing skills were American Idol reject level at best and I’m pretty sure she hired some of my fellow 6th graders to write her lyrics, but she changed the face of music. I happened to see her infamous performance on American Bandstand and her rolling on the ground in her lace skirts and singing about virginity (or her lack of it) shattered the double standards between men and women performers. My mom also HATED her and her skankalicious ways. That hate meant that I HAD to wear 20 black rubber bracelets on my arm just like her and watch Desperately Seeking Susan no matter how horrible it was.
7. Field Day– While Madonna plucked at the budding teenager hiding in my depths, there were still activities that kept me firmly planted in my childhood. Field Day was the bomb-diggity because in those days kids didn’t get ribbons just for showing up. Hell, no! You had to earn those bad boys with blood, sweat, and tears. You were expected to compete and that effort was rewarded with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons that were handed out in front of the entire school. Field Day was my Olympics because I was crazy competitive and had inherited my father’s track skills. Nothing felt better than beating boys who were a foot taller than me in the standing broad jump. I’m sure my old elementary school had planned to erect a statue of me on the playground before all of the education cuts.
6. The Movies– There are several movies that I can remember vividly from that year: Back to the Future, The Goonies, Gremlins, Footloose, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Splash, Starman, The Neverending Story, The Karate Kid, Ghostbusters, and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. There were other movies released that year too that I’m sure my mother made me wait to see but they are still some of my favorites: Amadeus, Romancing the Stone (we actually currently own a big, black Bronco with the vanity plate LTL MULE in homage to Pepe), Red Dawn, Beverly Hills Cop, Children of the Corn, Firestarter, Dune, The Terminator, Nightmare of Elm Street (I had to wait a few years to see that one), and one of my top 5 all-time favorites– Sixteen Candles. “Oh, sexy girlfriend… No more yanky my wanky!” Seriously, can you name another 12 month span of time that produced that many classics? Nope.
5. G.I. Joe and my Bro.- One of the people responsible for keeping me firmly rooted in my immaturity was my brother. He was 3 years younger than me, hyper, and funny as hell. He had tons of Star Wars, He-Man, and G.I. Joe figures that we’d play with. But don’t think that we played with them like normal children. We’re both overly creative, warped souls so our play mirrored that. We made up new names and personality disorders for all of our action figures. I hated dolls and the two or three I had were given makeovers that included tattoos and mohawks. They were ditzy skanks used as props to enhance the demented scenarios we’d create with our toys. I remember a sailor we renamed Popeye who was a sadist and then there was another guy we named Weiner who had an obsession with hotdogs and a well below average IQ. We probably needed therapy but at least we laughed a lot.
4. WWF Wrestling– It’s embarrassing to admit, but we watched wrestling. I can say that we were under no delusions that it was real, we just thought it was hilarious. We hated Hulk Hogan and all his “little Hulkster” bullcrap. Our favorites were Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jake “the Snake” Roberts, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, King Kong Bundy, Andre the Giant, and the British Bulldogs. It was all ridiculous and loads of fun.
3. Stephen King– This was the year I was introduced to one of my biggest literary influences. Until 6th grade I’d stayed safely in the realm of Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, A Ring of Endless Light, A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia, Bunnicula, Black Beauty, Little House on the Prairie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and other elementary classics. That all changed when a Japanese girl with worldly parents moved to our school. She was wicked smart and her mom let her read adult books. She and another boy in school were reading Stephen King. I borrowed Pet Semetary. My mother was concerned when she found it, but once I told her the 2 smartest kids in school where reading it, I was in the clear and forever hooked.
2. Miami Vice– There had been few celebrity crushes for me but that all changed one fateful night when I spent the night at my grandmother’s. She was busy in the kitchen and letting me watch television unsupervised in her bedroom. That night I just happened to see the pilot episode of Miami Vice. I don’t know if it was the music, the Ferrari Daytona Spider, the pastel clothes, or Phil Collins singing about something being in the air, but I was immediately and completely hooked on Don Johnson and all things Miami and/or Vice. By the 7th grade I had posters and calendars on my wall and secretly wrote episodes of the show (all with my barely pubescent ass as the love interest). I hated Sheena Easton when she was cast as Crocket’s wife. Skank. But in all seriousness, Vice was an amazing show that changed how tv was made. And I still love Don and squealed when I saw he was playing Kenny’s father on Eastbound and Down.
1. Illinois Jones– I’m sure you’re scratching your head with that one, but I’ll explain. I had a BFF in 6th grade that was the jelly to my peanut butter. We were thick as thieves and had identical senses of humor. She was a spunky redhead that kept me laughing. We lived only a couple of blocks from each other and spent pretty much all of our time together. We dressed like Punky Brewster together, watched Madonna together, and saw Pee Wee’s Big Adventure together over and over again. Our other favorite thing was to write stories. Our best creation was a comic based on Indiana Jones, but our hero wasn’t the suave archeologist embodied by the beautiful Harrison Ford. Nope. Ours was a bumbling moron who tried his best but was plagued by a love interest named Scarion who would pop up at inopportune times and ruin his chances of glory. We kept ourselves entertained for hours creating these stories and I guess in all honesty, it wasn’t the stories that left such an impression; it was the friendship and the safe harbor we provided for each other. We drifted apart over the next couple of years but I’ll always cherish the laughter and adventures we had.
And there are my memories of being 12. Were you a child of the ’80’s? Were some of these top memories for you too? If not, what is your best memory from that age? Don’t be shy. I’ve outed myself so come join me.
Wicked wishes- Mrs. Sonny Crocket