Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Beginning of the End....

When I was in junior high I was a straight A student, was the president of my class, starred in the school play, and was an all around examplary young lady. This was the last time I really walked a straight and narrow path. By the time I started freshman year of high school I became a paradigm of adolescent rebellion (mohawk, smoking, drinking, cutting class, etc.) But while in junior high I was still an innocent. The first glimpses of the life I was about to lead came from my friend Kyla who was one of my best friends in Junior High.

Kyla was pretty, charismatic, self-centered, and a real bitch. She was bright but not educated. She got C's in school, and learned very early how to trade in on her looks. She was one of those girls who would become your "best friend" so she could berate you. She also lived what to me was a very glamorous East Village life. Her mom was British (or maybe Australian) and owned a vintage shop on 1st Avenue. They lived in rambling apartment in a rundown tenement building on the corner of 14 Street and 2nd Avenue. Kyla's mom would let us borrow these cool vintage clothing and let us wander around the East Side. Her mom was also friends with all sorts of cool downtown musicians, including Cyndi Lauper which was the coolest thing ever. Kyla was a badass. She flirted with boys, wore bright red lipstick, and smoked cigarettes. I was her goody two-shoes best friend. She treated my pretty horribly but I didn't know any better and was pretty much content to bask in the glow of her popularity.

My other good friend in junior high was named Dame. She was a pretty black girl who was super smart -- her mother was a teacher. They lived in the projects and I would go up to Harlem and hang out with them a lot - lots of sleepovers. I remember that their furniture had plastic slip covers on it which I had never seen before, and which I thought was weird. Dame and I grew apart when she became a hardcore born again Christian in 8th grade. I remember thinkinig that she had gone crazy (not much different from what my reaction would be today). It was the first time I mourned the loss of a friend over differences in lifestyle or ideology.

The only enemy I remember having at school was a girl named Sarah Diamond. She was really crazy and threatened to beat me up a bunch of times. I remember finally getting so mad at her that I told her to meet me outside after school. But at the end of the day nothing happened and I guess we both chose to ignore the argument -- it was just easier then beating the shit out of each other. (NYC kids are nothing if not pragmatic).

School dances are not really a part of a New York public school student's lexicon -- our buildings our old and crappy and no one, including the teachers wants to spend any more time there than possible. The only school dance I ever remember attending was during junior high in our cafeteria which the faculty had half-heartedly decorated with some streamers. I think it was a Halloween dance and I spent the night at Kyla's. Her mom let us borrow all of these cool vintage clothes -- we dressed in a 50s style -- poodle skirts and beaded sweaters. Kyla looked stunning -- I looked like a chubby little apple squeezed into too small clothes. I remember hating the music which was Madonna and a bunch of rap -- I had just discovered The Specials and David Bowie and The Clash. I remember some of the kids were drinking which I thought was absolutely shocking. The whole thing was over by 9pm at which time Kyla and I went back to her place and watched TV. A big night out in junior high.

Junior High really was the last bastion of innocence for me. I ended up going to a high school with 3,000 kids in the Bronx, which was so different that it probably kind of ruined me. I will talk about that more in an upcoming post.....


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