As a young teen in the early 80’s, I was blessed to have a father who trusted my judgement when hanging out with my friends. I felt lucky that he was naive and gullible as well. You see, he would actually drive me to the roller rink where I would hang out with a bunch of trouble making burn outs. My typical outfit was red spandex pants and a black sequin tube top. I skipped the FM pumps and opted for black suede ankle boots as I’ve never been able to pull off high heels without wobbling like a newborn giraffe.
When he picked me up at 11 or 11:30 (whenever my curfew was at that age on a Saturday night) and I was reeking of cigarette smoke, he believed me when I told him the other kids were smoking and we bemoaned the smell and health effects together. It was a rare night if someone scored beer or wine coolers but if we did, we were sure to load up on the breath mints.
Most of the time I did stay out of trouble, because I was pretty good kid. Usually I would skate around in circles to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden songs and stand in the back while my tough girlfriends postured and pumped themselves up to start fights with their rivals. It was like white suburban teenage girl Jets vs. Sharks with heavy metal songs in the background instead of show tunes.
So, I wasn’t a thug – but I was all in when it came to smoking weed and noticing boys. The weed was dirt dime bags from Harlem and I suspect oregano half the time. I say noticing boys because I was too scared to approach or flirt with them. Plus, I wasn’t really cool like the other girls that went to the trade tech high school. I was a mostly “A” student geek who wrote for the school literary magazine and at one point was a member of the chemistry club (strictly for high school transcript purposes, though).
I did a have a brief fling with a skinny blonde boy that was a straggler just like me. Both of us outsiders trying to fit in with the cool kids. My goal was make out with a guy and get a hickey on my neck. At 13 and 14, a hickey was a sign of approaching the big leagues. If the hickey was on your neck it meant someone else gave it to you – no faking it like if you gave yourself one on your arm which we did to practice creating the perfect black and blue mark.
My innocence lost moment was when Dave (I have no idea if that was blondie’s name but it’s generic so maybe it was) gave me my first hickey. I pretended to hide it from my friends and then would flip my hair back as if in a forgetful split second. Then feigning embarrassment, announce “oh my God, is my hickey noticeable?” I was so totally cool.
Until the next day as I stood in front of my bathroom mirror brushing my hair and my dad walked in. At that moment I was truly forgetful and he saw the symbol of my coming of age. An inch of a bruise on the side of my neck. My red hot skin tight pants and barely there shirts were fine – but a hickey was where he drew the line.
He called for my mother to come into the bathroom. “Do you see that?!!!” He turned to me. “You’re a slut!” That stung. What I thought would impress my pseudo-friends was shameful to my father. I wasn’t really a slut (that didn’t happen until college and by then I was sophisticated enough to take ownership of it). All I could say back was “I’m still a good girl!” I wavered between being a child and a young adult depending on the company.
The appeal of showing off a hickey died that day. I avoided “Dave” the next time I saw him. Eventually, I stopped hanging out with the group of wannabe hoodlums (well, some of them really were hoodlums) that didn’t care if I was around anyway.
That hickey incident was the closest thing to a sex education discussion either one of my parents had with me. I had a healthy fear of sex that seems to have disappeared in young teens of today (I’m sorry if I sound like the church lady from SNL). I experimented and made out with boys, but sex was scary enough that I’m happy to report I waited until my late teens to try it with a serious boyfriend (in my bedroom while my dad was downstairs in the den).