Do you remember what you were doing in September 1989?
If I recall correctly, I was just beginning my 7th grade year at Los Arboles Middle School in Marina, California. I wore braces and had a serious love for headbands. Especially the padded variety, not the kind with teeth that dig into your scalp and leave red marks behind your ears. My favorite headband was pink with white polka dots. I loved that headband more than life itself, but our relationship ended quite abruptly one afternoon. My beloved puffy, pink polka dotted headband broke in half rather tragically one day at PE. Why I remember that, I don't know. But it's those kinds of insignificant things that stick with you for twenty years. Or with me, anyway.
Stretch pants and over sized shirts were a mainstay in my closet in September 1989. As were novelty earrings from Claire's Boutique (which is just called Claire's now, right?) and big puffy socks in every color of the rainbow. I sometimes wore two or even three pairs at a time to be extra fashionable.
I was a cheerleader in 7th grade, which to this day, makes me roll my eyes. I'm not sure what possessed me to try out to be a cheerleader because I'm really not the type, but yet, I did it. In sixth grade I was a member of the "Pep Squad" and we wore dorky skirts and vests with a turtleneck underneath.
At least in 7th grade we were called cheerleaders and wore real cheerleading uniforms.
We weren't very good.
Our leader was an overweight woman who just barked orders and relied on some 9th graders to "teach" us. They were helpful with the cheers, but when it came to choreographing a dance for the "big competition" they kind of stunk. All I remember was doing some repetitious moves to "Dial My Heart" and feeling pretty dumb the whole time.
Our cheerleader advisor was nice, when not barking at us, but she wasn't exactly what you would consider a typical cheerleader instructor. She was loud and yelled at kids for saying "aint" but was guilty of saying it herself sometimes. At one point in my two year stint as a cheerleader, the director was pregnant and I remember her stuffing handfuls of dry roasted peanuts in her mouth during one of our meetings. She kept saying, "I have to eat or I'll vomit, vomit, vomit!" while pounding her fist on the desk.
Thankfully I had the wits about me to pass on being a cheerleader in 8th grade. It just wasn't me.
I had two friends in seventh grade, Elizabeth and Lori...oh make that three. I forgot about Teresa, who lived right behind us. She had a black lab that burped and we had a yellow lab that ran around in circles all day and ate laundry detergent boxes.
7th grade was the only year of my schooling in which I was not placed in an advanced English class. Considering the way I continually butcher the English language on this blog, you might think that this was a wise decision. However, to a studious 12 year old, this was quite an ego blow. Consequently, I did VERY well in the regular English classes, which prompted my teacher to put me in an advanced class in 8th grade, back where I belonged. With my nerdy peeps. "Regular" English was quite an experience as my teacher was kind of "different." In a creepy, makes you wonder kind of way. He had an Airedale dog named Astro and drove a VW bug. Just thinking about him now gives me the shivers, but he could have just been a quirky kind of person without any reason to believe that he had some sort of police record.
7th grade also introduced me to Mr. Slaussen, my math teacher. He was young and his name was Theodore. He wore contact lenses, but one day he didn't and it amused me so much to see that his glasses had a little playboy bunny insignia on them. He had an abnormal fascination with The Price is Right, taping every episode and keeping spreadsheets of prices. He went to a show taping once, but didn't get to "come on down." However, he did help a woman out and as she celebrated her winnings, she called out "There's Theodore, there's Theodore" over and over while jumping up and down, trying not to bounce into one of Barker's Beauties. I was actually home sick the day that show aired and I laughed and laughed over it. He was such a dork. But, then again, so was I.
To further amp up his dorkiness factor, Mr. Slaussen sang "Heaven" by Bryan Adams at the school talent show. Now THAT was priceless.
I should also say that unlike every other ordinary 7th grader in 1989, I was not a fan of New Kids on the Block. Perhaps my music tastes were more mature than my peers, but I just couldn't figure out what the fuss was about. With the exception of two NSync songs on my ipod, well three, but the third one was bought accidentally, I've never really gotten the lure of boy bands. Girls my age dreamed of marrying Jordan or Joey or Jon, but not me. That's not to say that I didn't have my own pre-teen celebrity crush. Yes, my friends, I was in lurve with Kirk Cameron. He was so dreamy. He still is, if you don't count his cheesy "acting" in those Left Behind movies. I didn't see Fireproof either, but I gather it was cheeserific. I applaud his commitment to God and to his wife and family, but my cynical and sarcastic nature keep me from watching and enjoying those "films." Nevertheless, Kirk Cameron will always hold a special place in my heart. I wonder how much money my mom spent on Bop magazine so I could complete my Kirk Cameron scrapbook?
Wow, this trip down memory lane has been so much fun.
However, you might be wondering what has prompted this look back into the life of a dorky 7th grader. Well, for those with inquiring minds, let me tell you what Craig was doing way back in September 1989.
On September 6, 1989, a very skinny boy with a head full of brown hair, boarded a bus headed for the MEPS station in Tampa, FL and enlisted in the US Army. He had recently graduated from high school and in typical 18 year old fashion, found himself without much direction. His parents imposed a very early curfew, a curfew even earlier than that of his younger sisters, so he moved into a friend's place and pondered his future. The Air Force recruitment office was too far away for a guy without a car to visit, so he did the next best thing. He joined the Army.
Quickly, he became property of the US Government and his brown locks found themself on the floor beneath the barber chair. Sadly, that was the last Craig ever saw of his hair! He blames the initial buzz cut on the lack of hair on his head now. Every so often he tries to blame it on me, but we all know better than that!
If it weren't for his two year break in service, where he met and married ME, Craig could be up for retirement right now. However, December will mark 18 years of actual time in service and he still has some time before
Sure the Army can be trying at times. The 4 am phone calls for a urinalysis and tripping over big boots can cause an eye roll or two, but all in all, I cannot complain. The Army has provided Craig with a job skill that will serve him well in the private sector if he so chooses to continue in this career field upon retirement. He has been provided a steady pay check, free education and the opportunity to travel to some exciting (and not so exciting) places.
Craig's not a gung-ho kind of guy. He serves in the Army because it's a reliable job. He might not think he's doing anything particularly special, but I do. I've never been super patriotic, but the more I become interested in politics and the further I delve into the importance of protecting and securing freedom and liberty, the more thankful I become to those who have signed their lives away to Uncle Sam. It's not a glamorous job. The uniforms alone, in their drab olive-tan-brown splendor, say it all.
For a major part of Craig's Army commitment, he's had it pretty good. Good work hours in front of a computer in air conditioned building. Heck, if it weren't for the fact that he wears a uniform to work, you wouldn't know he's in the Army. Even still, in my eyes, he's doing something important. Sure, I don't know the details of his job as I'm not privy to such information, but serving your country, no matter your reasons or politics, is worthy of admiration.
Sounds dumb and cliche, but I'm proud of him.
He may not think much of what he does, but I sure do.