That thing must have been folded 3 times.

Apparently T. wasn’t the only one among my friends–or the female general public, for that matter–who thought Christopher Reeve was the bomb.  Whether or not he did, in fact, have to fold that thing three times, apparently Superman’s . . . er . . . package is a much hotter topic than I’ve ever suspected.  The Google search term “Superman’s bulge” returns more than 53,000 results, the most comprehensive of which appears to be the brilliant A Brief History of Superman’s Bulge by Ryan Britt.

Be that as it may, with the greatest respect for Christopher Reeve’s acting ability, his post-accident activism and his absolute, total hotness (“even though he is in his 30’s”), I felt compelled to share a second note today.  And I’m so glad I did, because, again, the Universe has spoken to me in its own subtle way:  during my brief research for this post, I read a November 2003 interview with Reeve in The New Yorker which mentions that his 1995 riding accident actually occurred at a competition in Culpeper, VA–the same “Culpepper” to which M & M refers below.


Heather,

Since I have little time to talk to you any more I thought I would write you a note.

You probably think I’m crazy liking a freshman and all but I really don’t care. I think he is nice and mature, more mature than A.K. It is to bad you haven’t met G. and one of these days I’ll have to take you to Youth Group with me (when I think he likes me or I don’t care, because I don’t want to take the chance of your beauty getting in the way.)

Who did you vote for homecoming princes or queen (or whatever)? I voted for S.S. and T.I.

Are you doing anything Sunday afternoon?, because I think you, me C., C., and K. should get together since I hardly see them any more. Sat. is out because I will be at Culpepper with the band.

I’m glad you are enjoying tenis. I wish I could say the same for marching and flags (I liked it better last year). You and I are kept so busy after school and with homework we don’t get to talked like we used to. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be glad when fall things are over.

Q-107 is playing my song Games without frontiers war without tears.

Remember after lunch I told you Superman was cute (even though he is in his 30’s)? When I saw him I said is that for real. You were right that thing must have been folded 3 times.

La
(L)ove y(a)
M & M

Oh, I think about candle-light diners.

After yet another long absence, I’m celebrating my wholehearted return to the work involved in becoming a published memoirist.  I’m now three years past my self-imposed deadline of procuring an agent by age 50, but who cares?  Everything happens when it’s meant to happen, and I’m having a blast.

Today I offer you this darling, heartfelt missive from a lovesick tenth-grader: my dear friend T., now a happily married attorney. This is one of my favorite notes from her, as it contains an adorably detailed, Harlequin romance-style fantasy about her current crush.

T. and I have been friends since seventh grade–forty years, in other words.  She recently embraced her note-writing roots and started writing letters again by hand on actual stationery.  Though some of the topics have changed (she still writes about TV shows she’s currently into), it is both remarkable and delightful to see how consistent her thought patterns and writing style have remained.

Thank you for this masterpiece, T.  We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?


Heather,

Dearie! I appreciate that “heart to heart” talk you gave me in German class. It meant a lot to me and set me straight on a whole lot of problems (mental and physical) I’ve been having. You are a sweetie and I treasure your friendship. Many people don’t understand my feelings such as J., J. & everyone else. You and H.G. are the only two people I know who care. Well, J. cares but she can’t relate to my problems. J. doesn’t care at all! All she wants to know are the hard facts, she doesn’t care about the sweat & tears. I seriously thought that she was one of the people who cared about me! All she wants to do is tell C. junk & stupid stuff for me (as she calls it!). You see, J.L. got moi très interested in C. in the first place by telling me how cute, innocent, sweet, clean cut (don’t make any jokes about his hair) and lovable he is. She persisted and I slowly (but surely) fell madly in love with him. Now she ignores me.

Now, to get to my main subject of life, C.C. who is in 9th grade has beautifully hazel eyes and is the perfect height of 5’8”. I think of him always (the way you do of A.). Right now as I’m writing this letter I’m thinking of C. and me (me is the correct gramatical form becauce it is an object, Ha Ha) sitting in front of a blazing fire. He is just out of the cold outside with firewood. I’m sitting in front of the fire, staring out into it (thinking about C., of course). C. tiptoes behind me & creeps behind me. He puts his arms around me and his cold cheek against mine. My cheek is warm from the fire. We sit like that for awhile, looking into the fire. Then, C. speaks, “I love you”, he whispers into my ear. We kiss passionately. You know the rest. Through out the following series of letters I will be telling you my dreams of C. As you told me in German you have them too, with A. of course. When I’m washing the dishes, brushing my teeth, washing my hair, eating dinner or doing anything ordinary. Oh, I think about candle-light diners, him watching me proudly as I win Wimbledon or us dancing to the music of a radio in a secluded cabin during a snow storm. Can you believe my imagination? Well, there are no laws against wild dreams that will probably never come true. Please write me back and discuss your problems too, because I feel that I can relate to what you feel inside. It aches and makes your stomach turn the more you think of the problems. I think that together we can both overcome the problems we are both facing in this terribly difficult stage of growing up. I hope you agree with me because I am in despret need of a person to talk to. You already know it all and I think you care if I live or die. I feel so unwanted. Today in geometry I did a nerdy thing. D.M. asked me about “Mop head”. I still don’t know how he found out! I said “Don’t talk about him, he doesn’t like me!” D. replied with a “I know what you mean.” That left me stunned. I’m starting to discuss my life & problems with people I’ve known for awhile but not personnaly. Please excuse my terrible spelling, I’m not in the mood to spell correctly.

Love
T. (the lonely one)

P.S. I’m happy cuz I’m drug-free.

Evidence that learning did occur

Apparently we did, at some point, take time out of our note-writing to pay attention in class.  At least one of us learned about her skeletal system.

If only she’d been paying attention in 9th-grade English.


Heather,

Today is going to be a pretty good day.  Mr. G. is grading my South Pacific test.  I think I did alright.  Friday night should be fun at C.’s maybe her parents will give her stero back.  I missed one out of 31.  I hope that is an A  It is because they are worth three points each.  I missed the one that I ask him about  Well, that’s O.K.  Next we have to go and look at George the Skeletion (S.P.)

Come over at 4 and will make the cake.  Tell D. to try to decorate (S.P.) C.’s locker.  I cann’t wait to give you your present on your birthay.

See ya later,
M&M

I’m in second and I know all the bones in my body.  My pelvis sticks out and so do my clavicle.  I also have a big cranium.  Heather “A” just said he was coming over today to pick up the Elvis Album come over.
Found out he is staying after.

I cannot handle the pressures of every day phone calls.

I continue to be eternally grateful to the friends who (mostly) dated their notes.  This one was written towards the end of our junior year by a friend whose father worked the majority of his career for the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, commuting daily from Herndon to downtown Washington, D.C., and traveling all over the world as a matter of course.  In fact, he was one of the scientists originally tasked with researching the effects of increased methane on earth’s atmosphere in the late 1980s–so, naturally, we told everyone he went to Africa to study cow farts.

This is the typewriter referred to in L.’s note:

IBM Selectric II

You can read lots more about IBM Selectric Typewriters here, if you like.

At the risk of sounding like my father, who’s known for starting childhood stories with, “When I was your age, we had to walk five miles to school every day barefooted, uphill both ways, through ten-foot snow drifts . . . ” I ask everyone under age 30 to imagine, if you can, learning to type on a machine similar to the Selectric II, only it did NOT plug in, AND you had to manually return the carriage with your left hand at the end of each line.  That’s what we got in 10th-grade typing at Herndon High School in the early 1980s.  When I think about that, at one end of the spectrum, and texting on my iPhone at the other end, I get a little freaked out.

I also want to make note of L’s final line, “At the tone the time will be . . .”  Did you know you used to be able to call a local phone number, and a recording would tell you the current time?  You could do this pretty much anywhere in the U.S.  This service was only fairly recently discontinued in southern California.  But the National Institute of Standards and Technology, based in Boulder, Colorado, still offers time-of-day service at 303.499.7111.  Give it a try!


L.’s Bonzo Home
123 Independence Ave
The Big Wash, DC  11234

May 19, 82

Heather Baby
9 Lust Lane
7th Heaven USA

Dearest Heather

This may be the most official letter you ever get from anyone so, hold on.  As I type you are enerting upon the time of 8:26 AM this very muggy morning.  I am enjoying the fine comforts of my daddys neato office, typing upon a cool to the max IBM Selectric II typing device and I am making mega mistakes, but you will not be able to see all of them thanks to the expressly adanced technological designing of this fine device.

So, how is Bronze Boy?  FINE as usual?  I thought so.  Did M. stay all day or just til she wore out her welcome?  I thought so.  See, I have been thinking alot lately.  I’m sure you thought so, too.

We lost our game last night, 20-29.We really sucked royally last night.  So many errors, I only hit one grand slam(drag) and two singles.  I was off (o-ops).

Lets see what other exciting information I can relay to you.  How do you make those cute little soldiers?  !@#$%¢*()_-+=qwerytuiop ½¼asdfghjkl;’zxcvbnm,./, well I can’t seem to find the right keys to make little soldiers.  I am making even more mistakes, and I don”t feel like correcting them, cuz I have been typing for one hour and fourty five minutes.  I typed up the program, for my mom’s recital tomorrow night,and now I am typing to you.

Do you know what they want me to do?  I didn’t think so, well they want me to answer the tolophone!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Yes, you read this correctly, the BIG TELEPHONE.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It hasn”t rung yet but when it does I will probably have a massive coronary.  So , watch out cuz I will just pass out.  I cannot handle the pressures of every day telephone calls.  Suey, every time I hit the correcto key I make the same mistake again.  Gaswear.

Well ,I thank you for the fine attention you have paid, and have a nice day.

At the tone the time will be 8:48 and 40 seconds ……………. BOING ……….

Sincerely as always,
L.

 

Photo courtesy covingtoninnovations.com

White bread

I am the captain of my ship–as well as the author of today’s note from 1979 or 1980.  And, as you’ll see, in 9th grade I was already on my way to becoming a master of race relations and cultural sensitivity.  (My former boss and friend, Kirk Koepsel, once told me, “Sarcasm doesn’t translate into writing.”  I have always hoped this isn’t true, but if it is, please know I was just now being sarcastic.)

I grew up on the east coast–elementary school in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area and intermediate and high school in a D.C. suburb–so, consequently, my formative years were blessed with a fair amount of racial and cultural diversity.  I had White friends, Black friends, and every shade of brown in between.  There were plenty of Latino, Indian, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern kids at Herndon Intermediate and Herndon High School.  In 9th grade, I had an Iranian friend whom I asked to teach me some Persian (Farsi) words and phrases.  Sadly, all I can remember today is halet chetore, which means “How are you?”

However, my closest friends were White, and, if I think about it, I can only remember being at their homes, knowing their families and spending most of my one-on-one time with them.  Time spent with friends of color was always in school, or at school-related social events–rarely individually, and never at home.

What many of my peers probably don’t remember is that I attended our senior prom with my friend K., a Black football player whose family had moved to Herndon from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo).  I am ashamed to confess that I told my parents I was going with a different (read “White”) friend because I didn’t think they would approve.  K. and I wore matching tuxedos, and double-dated with the mutual friend and his girlfriend, who deigned to join the three of us in our dapper finery and wore a dress instead.

It’s particularly fascinating to reflect on the scenario briefly referred to in my note–of which I have absolutely no recollection–at age 51, when I spend half of each workday in a community college diversity center.  I’m far from being the most culturally fluent person in the room, but in the past couple years, my horizons have expanded enormously thanks to my job.  My Latino boss–with whom I have almost daily conversations about some aspect of cultural competency–has brought both Tim Wise and Robin DiAngelo to our school to speak on White privilege.  I’ve read several of their books, I participated in a year-long Inclusion & Cultural Fluency leadership training series, and I’m learning to speak Spanish because my inability to communicate with so many folks has been driving me crazy for a long time.

In other words, I’ve made a personal choice to improve my cultural competency and increase my understanding of White privilege.  This is a priority I will work on throughout the rest of my life, whether or not I continue to pursue a career in higher ed.  I may not remember why the Korean boy made me nervous, nor why I thought I needed to “feel sorry for him,” but from the perspective of more than thirty years later, I now know to challenge myself when I have thoughts like these.


hey chic!

How’s life?  mine’s just boreamundo.  actually it’s pretty gross.  my life is in a rut.  it’s been there for the longest time.  but i’m planning on having a heap o’ fun this weekend.  Friday night I’m going to a party, Saturday night I’m going skating, now I have to find sompin’ to do sunday.

i told C. about ya not being allowed to go to Roanoke.  She’s really upset.  I think we could try and talk your parents back into letting you go.

I sit with this Vietnamese Korean guy in Bio & M. isn’t here.  He carries a Korean-American dictionary around with him.  I feel sorry for him but he makes me nervous.

This class is sorry.  I wish I could’ve gotten into Mr. S. 2nd period, because I’m pretty sure that’s where A. is now.

Mr. S. sez they need pitchers on the softball teams ‘round here.

Later!

Love moi

Do you feel spirited?

I know y’all have been waiting with bated breath for the next note.  And I also know I keep saying this, but I really should post more often.

So, at long last:  here’s a gem from 10th grade (1980-81).  While you enjoy it, ask yourself the following questions:

Would you appear in public wearing all white?
Do you remember being completely mortified in 10th grade biology by the chapter on reproduction?
Do your kids see you more often than once or twice a week?
Do you feel spirited?


How do, mademoiselle?

I hope you’re not so spastic today!  You ought to be in our biology class.  Mr. S. says things you wouldn’t believe.  And today I was looking through the book & discovered the chapter on reproduction—w/ illustrations!  There’s no way in the world I’m gonna do that chapter w/ J. as my partner!!

I have some good news.  Mr. H. ordered a couple more desks yesterday so there is a lot of room left for you—4 whole desks.  Pleeeaassse switch to 3rd pd!  Pleeze?

Do you feel spirited?  I honestly did have on all white this morning.  I took it off ’cuz it looked weird & ‘cuz I wouldn’t dare going into Hist. & Math in all white!  Juniors would murder me!

Have fun at the game.  I wish I could come, but I already promised D. I would sit tonite.  I hope she comes home super early ‘cuz I desparately need sleep.  I even have a 9:30 a.m. hockey scrimmage tomorrow.  Ho, boy—no sleep!

What are we gonna do ‘bout Sun.  I think C. said she could take us.  All we need is a ride home.  Maybe I can—I’ll have to check next time I see my mom.  I haven’t seen her since Mon. from 5-6 pm.  [I’m pretty sure this note was written on a Friday, so WTF?]

I just goofed on a Math test.

I have a Hist. test on Monday; a French dialog on Monday; & a biology Chapt. test on Wed.  Plus I have to read 1 English book & 2 history books.  Plus I have to make all those Christmas gifts.  Also, I have to dance, babysit, guitar lesson (when do I ever practice?), build a float, & do all this other crap.  I AM SO OVER MY HEAD!!  HELP ME, I’M DROWNING!

I feel like Frampton’s song:
I’m swimming in a circle
I feel I’m going down
There has to be a fool to play my part

Well, I better finish, it’s 1 minute ‘till the bell rings.

Luv,
C.

Sexual harassment – 80s style

Transcribing K’s note below made me wonder just how often this type of situation happened during my six years of intermediate school and high school, and to what extent it’s still happening.  I’m pretty sure if this occurred nowadays, the geometry teacher referenced would be suspended without pay–or possibly fired–and both he and Fairfax County Public Schools would be sued from here to eternity.

It is simply mortifiying to think about this happening to K or any girl around her age.  I can’t imagine how humiliating and embarrassing it must have been for her.  K was short and very amply endowed, even in seventh grade.  She was extremely self-conscious about her appearance:  she viewed herself as overweight and spent huge amounts of money, time and energy on losing weight, as well as her skin, makeup, hair and clothing.  Read more about her in If I had a bunny, I’d call it Led Zeppelin.


Hi Heather!
Geometry was embarassing! Mr. S. likes to make up stories about people in the class to help explain things.  So guess who was in his story today!  Me and P.D.!
He started out, “You all know K.D., don’t you?” and of course they didn’t because they were all sophomores, but one guy said, “She must be a freshman.”  Then Mr. S. said, “Have you ever seen her walk down the hall?  She’s no freshman!”
Embarassment!!!!!!!!!!!
Then he proceeds to tell this story of me and P. driving down the highway when he hears this thumping which he thinks is my heart but it turns out to be a flat tire which I have to change while he watches the traffic.  So embarassing!  Hey there’s cute little R.L. walking along the road in the rain!  Poor baby!  How was the Ortho man?  Fun I bet!  I have to go to Dr. B. at 3:30.  Fun-ness!
R. is on the bus looking very cute in his red, black & white shirt and gorgeous new white Adidas jacket.
Well, almost home!
Bye!

My arm is broke off.

2015 is kind of a big year for me.  This is the year I turn 50, as do all my girlfriends with whom I graduated high school.  We’re getting together for a week in October at a beach house in Oak Island, NC, to celebrate and/or commiserate.  By that time, only one of us will still be in her forties, but she’ll be the one who gets to have her birthday while we’re all together.  Maybe it’ll be less traumatizing for her that way.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I kind of lost focus on my memoir.  You’ve probably been wondering, “Geez, when is she going to post another one of those notes?”  Well, wonder no further.  Below is one of the oldest notes in my possession, written in seventh grade by the friend who most recently turned 50.  (You know who you are.)

It is now my goal to have every note transcribed and an agent procured by the time we get together in mid-October.  I’m going to need you to help hold me to that, since I am, at heart, an incredibly lazy person with the attention span of . . . well, Happy Dog.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(Whose attention span, by the way, has not increased one iota in the past two years since we adopted her.)  I’m really good at starting things with the appropriate amounts of enthusiasm and focus, but not so great at finishing them.  Truly, this is one of my greatest and most crippling faults.  But publishing this book is incredibly important to me, and I fully intend to see it through.

So, without further introduction, I give you:


Oh merd!  Dallas just lost
MERDE & double merde!)

Superbowl Sunday 1/21/78
Heather,
High!  I will be when Dallas wins.  They’re behind now, they had better win.  If they don’t I’ll lost a whole 50¢!
Today would be 7 months.  In this one song on my Helen Reddy record it goes “love and I were strangers til you and I were friends.  Into the shadows of my life, you have brought sympathy and sunshine.  I wish that we could still be friends.”  They later it goes “Broken hearts will mend.”  Maybe, but it sure as hell takes long enough.  (excuse my Français)  Oh, great!  35 to 17.  Looks like I had better get my 50¢ out.  This just helps make all the other little events lately, even betterly worse!  That includes last night; I was going to Grand Visitation with D.G. and another girl, with a lady from our bethel.  We had to go to Alexandria.  As we got close to the off ramp the cute little decided it didn’t want to go.  So here we are all dressed up sitting in the car off the side of the Hiway.  We sat there for about 40 min.  There was another car behind us w/ problems.  We kept watching him get in & out of his car, hoping that if he got his car started he would help us, only if he was nice.  The lady that was driving us is about 25 & her mother had given her this scream thing to have in case someone was after her, so were safe.  (har har)  So finally a tow truck stopped & after about 10 minutes got the car started.  So now we go to Landmark Center & she calls her husband, now it’s about 8:15.  He says he’ll be there in a half hour.  So we’re sitting in the Sears automotive parking lot.  D. starts to read “Cruisin for a Bruisin’” then gets tired of it about 8:30.  So I start reading it.  About 9:20 the ladies husband get there, he’s going to follow us home.  So for starters we get on the wrong road.  I continue using the headlights behind us to see.  Finally we get here at 10:15, I stepped out of the car & into a cute little puddle about 20 (maybe 30) feet deep, in my good shoes and freeze my feet off, but the husband guy got out of his truck to tell his wife something and thought it’d be cool to just skate on over . . . so he crashed to the ground.  The End.
My arm is killing me to death.  I have to go to the dentist at 9:15 to get my teeth cleaned.  My dentist, Dr. Repole, is the foxyest (sp) guy!  Tall . . . Dark . . . &&&&& HANDSOME!!!!!!
I have to go.  My arm is broke off.
W/B/soon
C-ya round
C.
Now to fold this sucker!
K’s playing restaurant, Miklshakes are $10 & Chinese food is $50!!!!