The Wonder Years

Seventh Grade 1979

Bret Harte Junior High
Ah, the big leagues...lockers, changing classrooms, showering after gym class with people you did not know that well...leg warmers, koala bear clip-ons, mood rings, curling irons, Farrah Fawcett do's, braces, make-up, nylons and most scary of them all...Shakespeare.

It all started with Taming of the Shrew.
Mrs. Saint-Martin's class. I liked her, not everyone did. I heard that later down the road she blew up like the volcano that her name sounds like and threw a desk/chair (they were connected) across the classroom. She very soon thereafter 'retired'. But that was after I graduated college.

Now, I wasn't a reader back then. Never picked up a book for pleasure...I mean, come on! We had television! How could I miss Wednesday nights with Charlie's Angels, or Friday nights with the Love Boat and Fantasy Island? Why did I need to read when I could get adventure with Gilligan's Island, fantasy with I Dream of Jeannie, romance with Room 22 and Love American Style, comedy with Saturday Night Live, family life with The Flintstones, mystery with the Hardy Boys, futurism with The Jetson's, Sci-fi with Star Trek, alien invasion with Mork and Mindy, western life with Bonanza, and history with Little House on the Prairie? I did not even know that Little House on the Prairie was based on a real book and person! (I've neglected drama; that was Kim's department...she would probably say Marcus Welby M.D. again.) My parents were not big readers and I never understood the need for a bookstore let alone a Library... I only picked up comic books because of the drawings and you could get them at Dick's grocery store or 7-11.

So, here I was with an assignment to read Shakespeare. Of course my first reaction was 'Uh, is this even in English?' But as I've said, Mrs. Saint Martin was a good teacher. At least I thought so until she made us act out parts of the play and I had to be Bianca. But, ya know what? I really started to understand the stuff and dare I say it? like the stuff. This was a blessing in disguise for how was I to know that for the rest of my Junior High and Senior High life I would be immersed in it?

Mrs. Saint Martin also taught me mythology. Sure, I'd seen Jason and the Argonauts on T.V. but I had no idea that there was more to mythology than some buff guys sailing away on a ship they named the Argo. **This is where I must, absolutely must, introduce you to Tami.

Tami, the smartest air-head you will ever meet...

(and the bestest best friend anyone could ever have!)

I'm not sure where or how I first met Tami. We were in a lot of classes together and I always thought she was one of the cool, pretty, popular kids who wouldn't pay any notice to me. Funny how you judge people without getting to know them first. Anyway, I just remember liking her and wishing she would be my friend. One day in History class, a really cute guy was, for some crazy reason, talking about herpes. I don't know if he just got out of Health class or what--who knows with seventh grade boys? Somehow the question got placed into Tami's lap. 'You do know about herpes right?' Tami rolled her eyes and said, 'Of course I know about Herpes! He was a Greek god, DUH!'

It was then that I knew I must become friends with this chick no matter what. (She is now a nurse--go figure.)

**Back to Mrs. Saint Martin's English class...

We were assigned to present a skit for the class about one story of our choosing in mythology. Partners or teams were fine, but the skit must cover most of the class period. Tami and I decided to do The Quest for the Golden Fleece story but in a 'fun, contemporary way'...we titled it: All My Gods.

We spent days on the assignment...going to each others house, taping sound effects from the T.V., getting props. Four other girls joined our play. Tami and I would be the narrators because, 'Hey! We wrote the darned thing!' We knew it would be great. We knew it would get us all A+'s for the year. We knew that the class would laugh, cry, and cheer.

Did you know that Socrates says that 'Knowing you know nothing is the beginning of wisdom'?

If you feel the overwhelming need to read our pathetic attempt to be Junior High Playwrights then click here ...but I would just skip it if I were you.

Our audience had dumbfounded expressions the entire time and when we said our last witty lines, silence and a cough were all that applauded.

Tami and I did not become best friends until High School...but this wonderous play started a friendship that has lasted all our lives.

Do you remember the first time you cut school? Funny, I'm not sure if I ever did it again...but I remember that day and the friends I was with. Tiffany, Me, Kris, and Tobi. Yes, we are all wearing cowboy hats, and yes, we planned it, and yes, we look rather silly, but no, none of us ever owned a horse. It is strange that by the end of our Junior year in High School, I was no longer good friends with any of these girls. One because our interests changed very quickly, the other because of popularity or lack there of, and the last? Well, I'll get to that a bit later. Even so, this day we were friends, sisters. We cut school to go to my house...went the back way through a ditch and everything. It really wasn't all that wrong, it was the last day of school and everyone was just signing yearbooks anyway. Even though I never cut again, it felt kinda good being just a little wicked once.


His name was Doc. Doctor Waggletail Szeker to be precise...a mallard full of spunk. My cat, Bootsie, was actually pretty spectacular too...but Doc was a wonder. He loved me, played with me, trusted me, and protected me. I raised him from a chick and he knew I was mommy...he also knew that my sisters weren't mommy; nor were they daddy. They were beings that needed to be put into place when mommy was near. Heck, even when mommy wasn't near. He really liked ankles did not want to go barefoot when Doc was by your toes. Many a time my sisters would come shrieking into the house with blood blisters forming on their lovely heels.

Yep. I had Doc pretty well trained.

I would dive into our pool and he would jump in and dive right after me. His trust of me was so great that I could lull him into laying on his back in the swimming pool. Yes, even on a raft.

Back then I was even stupider than I am now. I, and my sisters, lived to 'lay out'...mind you, this was before we had any knowledge of skin cancer. We would laugh at sunblock. No, we wanted the baby oil for the skin and the lemons for the hair thank you very much. We had these metal lounge chairs with rubber band thingies for padding where you could bend the heads and feet areas to go up and down according to how you wished to bake yourself. I could float on the raft because Doc would just play with me...but my sisters had to use the chairs. If they felt really brave they would bend the feet to hang over the water. Doc would quack and swim around me until he saw that my sisters were comfortable and feeling safe...then he would attack. He'd do this low soft quaking like he was talking to his spy network..."mmrrrmrrr mrr mrr? mrrrrmmmmr..." Then it would get loud and fast..."MRR! MRRR MRR! MAMERRRR!!!" And he would slide his beak up a non-suspecting fool of a foot and spray water all over the relaxed leg. It never failed. A scream would issue from the being on the chair followed by something like, "Mimi! Control your duck!" or "I hate him! I absolutely HATE HIM!" Doc would chuckle to himself, "Mawmarrr! MA MA MA MA MRRRR!" and whichever one of my sisters that was attacked (usually Karen, oddly enough) would raise their chair leg back up or go inside the house. Job completed, Doc would then swim around me or dive under me and swim around the pool to resurface with a flap flap of the wings and a great waggle of the tail.

God, how I loved that duck.

Growing up is difficult. The kids you used to watch cartoons with and eat chocolate chip cookie dough with change. Sometimes, faster than you do. My best friend in seventh grade was Tobi. We did everything together. I'm not exactly sure when it happened but by the end of the summer of 1980, she had a boyfriend and I was still watching Scooby-Doo. Fortunately for me, I still like to watch cartoons and my husband is okay with that. On the right you see that Karen is still a cute softball player, Tobi was over to chat, and I must have been going somewhere special because I never dressed up unless I had to. Things haven't changed that much for me at least.


Margie, now 20 or so and on her own, decided to get engaged. Life changes so quickly. You blink and suddenly you're in the middle of it all without remembering the beginning. We were four sisters living together, playing softball, arguing over television shows and suddenly we are checking out bride's maid gowns. It really was a neat celebration though. For the very first time that I know of, both my mom and dad's mothers were visiting together. Grandma Brown, Mom's mom, lived in Arizona and Grandma Szeker (and Grandpa Szeker) lived in New York.

*To be continued...'same bat time, same bat channel'


Our first Christmas without my sister Margie was spent in Arizona. My maternal grandmother lived there with her youngest son, my Uncle Kevin. Many vacations were spent in Phoenix, Arizona and we always traveled by car. This visit we were one less but it was still a cramped, long, bickering voyage. If you ever traveled from San Jose, California to Phoenix, Arizona you will understand this well. If you haven't, I will endeavor to illustrate it for you...

Imagine, if you will, a brown Buick. Mother and Father are in the seats up front. Three girls ages 13, 15, and 17 in the back and you are the 13 year old. Stuck. In the middle. This is before walkmans. This is also before you've discovered how great books are. Your parents have an eight track playing old country tunes that you've been programed to actually like.

There is a long stretch of desert as far as the eye can see (sorry, it's cliche but true.) In the middle of the desert is a road that looks and feels as if it was paved over a rolling ocean. Your family has dubbed these waves dippity-do's. As this is an annual trip, you are expecting the waves and as soon as the first one approaches, the entire family starts to sing:

Dippity do da, dippity ay!
My, oh my, what a wonderful day!
Plenty of sunshine headed my way.
Dippity do da. Dippity ay!

Yes. It is corney, but it is what you do. Suddenly Mom yells, "TURTLE!"

All the girls groan. Dad blows out a long breath of air.

"John! Stop the car! I saw a turtle!"

"Syl...You said that, what 10 miles back. You thought you saw a turtle..."

"This time it really is a turtle. Stop the car!"

Your mother has always had some strange obsession with finding a turtle on the road. You have not the slightest idea why. Dad knows that Mom will never, ever, stop talking, moaning, nagging if he does not pull over and check for the turtle.

We pull over. Immediately you are hot. Yes, it is Christmas time but you are HOT! And your two sisters have decided to sprawl all over 'their' sides of the car leaving the tiny mid-section for you to sweat in. Since Dad had taken his time hashing it out in his mind whether it was worth the nagging to not pull over or not, he has a much longer walk than he anticipated.

Bicker, bicker: "You're on my side!"..."You stink!"..."Don't you EVER brush your teeth?"..."I hate you!"...

Mom has had enough. Now it is time to pull the age old threat: "If you girls don't shut-up, I will spank you with a cactus!"

This used to work. In fact, we all have had nightmares of picking cactus needles out of our butts. But now we are teenagers. And now we have a common enemy. Our bickering is solved! Now we can rag on Mom!

"As if!"..."I'd like to see you try!"..."Do you actually think we'd fall for that one?"..."Where are your gloves, huh?"

Mom now regrets pulling over for her long sought turtle. We all watch for Dad. FINALLY we see his itsy bitsy figure coming from the dippity-do's. He is carrying something! It is dark and looks a little heavy. Mom gets so excited that she forgives us all and promises that at the next gas station we will all get an ice-cream bar.

Dad's figure gets bigger. Yes. He is definately carrying something.

He arrives and presents Mom with her prize. "Here you go, Syl. Here is your turtle."

A black rubber piece of tire is placed in her lap and we resume our trip.

*A special note*

In the last two years since Mom and Dad have moved to North Carolina, Mom has fulfilled her life's ambition. She has found not one, but THREE real turtles on the road.

They live in a glass aquarium in her kitchen.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mimi!

This page looks great and I am
so proud of you!

I did not know about the Ding
Dong story! LOL!


Jennifer said...

I still have my koala bear clip on around here somewhere! I wanted Farrah hair so bad... but mine is very thick and unruly and would never do the flip the way I wanted it to. Sigh.

M. C. Pearson said...

Isn't funny how no matter where you are from, some memories are the same for everyone? How cool is that?

To Tami~ I love you BIF!

Anonymous said...

Hey My Sista, You are sooo funny!
Hi Tammy! Anyway Mimi, I love what you've done with the place! It looks like a lot of fun. Talk to you soon. DeeDee

Anonymous said...

Oops..... Tami..... and someday you'll have to tell the tampon story...... and about the time Tami, Dave, and you helped me to cut school and got to the beach... and the construction crew along the way. Love DeeDee

M. C. Pearson said...

Dee Dee, guess I'll have to call you to refresh my memory...did the tampon story have to do with Hume Lake or Lake Almanor? Guess I have two stories there. ;) For some reason the cutting school part escapes my memory...hmmm we must talk. Like we didn't just talk earlier today???
BTW for everyone reading this thinking, 'Dee Dee? I thought her sisters were Margie, Kim, and Karen." This is my relatively newly acquired sister...oh, about 15 years ago--when I married her brother.

Anonymous said...

Aren't you just the most creative thing? Keep it coming. Lisa T

M. C. Pearson said...

Lisa~ So glad you stopped by!!! Cannot wait to see Serenidy (Serenedy, serenady???? Fire-fly movie) with you tonight! Whahooo!

M. C. Pearson said...


Running2Ks said...

I love your writing style. You really crack me up. I think you can get Herpes FROM a Greek God. LOL!

M. C. Pearson said...

Oh head is really big now, I tell ya. Thanks for all the wonderful support running2ks!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Good job. Is this as much fun for your family as it is for you? From the comments here from your sister-in-law, it sounds like there's still a bunch of untold stories! Get to work o' girl o' mine! Write, write, oh, did I say write!

M. C. Pearson said...

Bonnie~ Margie read it before I put in the Ho Ho's incident and she liked it mom and dad read a little bit of it so far and enjoyed it but wondered where they went wrong with me because I'm just too mother-in-law liked it. I don't know why they didn't comment??? Maybe they did not understand the process. None of them are bloggers...yet!

Tami said...

Hi DeeDee!

Hi Mimers!

And hi to everyone else that has been reading the site! WOW!!
BTW, the Hume Lake story is CONFIDENTIAL!! I think she may be referring to the price check story...

I love this site! You are just too funny! I cannot wait to read the rest of it!

I hope you tell more stories about crust ear and the singer. How about the CB times and the green van?

M. C. Pearson said...

Tamisita~ Oh boy...I forgot about the CB and California Bear! Yes, Hume Lake will remain Confidential...but I may have to use the price check story! It was great IMing with ya last week. We'll have to do so again really SOON!

Kimber said...

LOVE IT - Of course, my hair is mouse brown - but I did the Farrah Facuet 'hair' - wore prairie skirts, leg warmers - and those Madonna lace gloves, my favorite shows were Mork & Mindy, Charlie's Angels - Love Boat, Little House on the Prairie.....yes, indeed, my sister and I even threw a blanket over the kitchen table - and pretended that was our covered 'wagon' - and we role played for hours - complete with two chairs - that acted as the 'horses' LOL!!!

Love your pet stories - too funny!! And you are right - you blink - and everyone grows up and everything changes....

Can't wait to hear the rest of the story...keep writing - :)


M. C. Pearson said...

It is so cool that we are so close in age that you can relate to the t.v. shows and all.

I used to play 'I Dream of Jeannie' with my sister, Karen. But she always got to be the pink jeannie while I had to be the evil sister blue jeannie. Even so, I knew that I was the pink jeannie. I was the one with blonde hair. So there! LOL

xXDraGonGirLo6Xx said...

Aww, good for your mom, that was a rather funny and cute story to be truthful. Kind of like something from a (and excuse the expression) but Wonder Years movie/television show. I'm so thoroughly enjoying this, as I've said before.

I can relate with how you lose friends. Heck, I've had so many friends from K-12 that I can't even recall them all. And if I sometimes look back on it, I wonder now how I was ever friends with them, lol. I guess part of growing up is growing apart because you need your space. But that boyfriend thing is so like me. Losing a friend to a boyfriend that is. Like I said before, I'm finding myself to be a great deal like you. :)

Well, off to read the other blog pages... great job!