"Clothes Make the…"
A high school horror story
Okay, nobody died. So how horrible can it really be? But in high school, where real life and death situations are (we hope) rare, there are other kinds of moments that can be fairly be described as horror stories.
I was—a junior, I think. And we lived in suburban Indianapolis, exurbs, they called it. My parents said they moved far from the city because they didn’t want us kids to go to a "clique-ish" (cf Ruth’s comment) "north side" school where it was all about clothes and money. So we went to a very rural school. Where it was basically all about cows. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and it isn’t even exactly true. But it felt like it, to a kid like me who longed to be cool and chic and accepted by the north side crowd.
So anyway, my step-dad was a lawyer, and had some big-shot clients. One of whose daughters was having a "sweet sixteen" party. In May, I think it was. And of course she was a north-sider, and went to the cool school. But because our parents knew each other, the daughter (we’ll call her Jane) was ordered to invite me to the party. Part of me wanted to go, because maybe they’d somehow realize I was one of them. But most of me didn’t want to go, because I knew, actually, it would be horrible.
Of course, my parents made me go.
The key here was the invitation, which arrived in the mail. I can’t remember how it was phrased or presented, but the gist of it was girls should dress as boys and boys dress as girls. Ack, I hear you saying, and yes, indeed. But it was 1966 and times were different. Somehow this was thought not to be icky and fraught, but wacky and funny.
I pleaded not to go.
So the night of the party came, and I put on penny loafers, and madras shorts and an oxford button-down shirt, and a tie. And even though today, a 16 year old girl could wear that and be adorable, trust me, I wasn’t.
So I arrive in this get up---Jane opens the door. In a skirt and a circle pin and a little gros-grain trimmed cardigan. And she says—oh, didn’t anyone tell you? We decided not to have the dress up party.
I won’t tell the rest. Okay, it’s not Carrie. And I know it all turned out fine, forty years later. High school. Goodbye and good riddance. (Except for my English teacher. Hi Mr. Thornburg. Luv ya 4-ever.)
Did you have pivotal high school moments? Good or bad? Gym class stories accepted!