Tag Archives: Middle School

The Jordache Smell


“You’ve been wearing those same pants all week,” Dickhead (not his real name) said to me in front of everyone in the hallway right after sixth-grade math. Until that moment, I had a crush on him. I looked into his smirking face and hated him and his dark good looks.

“Um, no I haven’t. I have a couple of different pairs, and anyway I washed them.” I stammered, trying not to cry.  This was total bullshit, as I had only one pair and we did not own a washing machine.  We took our clothes to the laundromat once a week.  My dad, whom I rarely saw thanks to divorce and his lack of interest in his own children, had just bought me a pair of dark blue Jordache jeans. I was so excited that I wore those jeans five days in a row, a big middle school no-no. So, instead of having “the Jordache look” I probably had the Jordache smell. No amount of Love’s Baby Soft could cover that up.


Dickhead and the others laughed at me as I walked away, turning red and feeling embarrassed about having only one pair of designer jeans. This was worse than the time I got my period on my chair in science class. I marched down the hall, staring straight down at my Trapper Keeper and trying to suck the tears back into my eyes. This is when I realized that I was poor.

I’m surprised it took me that long, as our little family (just mom and me – my brother lived with my father) had received government cheese twice.  It wasn’t bad, really. It was just a big block of American cheese. Also, I had taken some cold baths by candlelight when our electricity had been turned off due to non-payment. If the free cheese and cold baths hadn’t tipped me off, I probably should have realized we did not have money when we had to move into a two-room efficiency apartment with no kitchen. We did dishes in the bathroom sink and cooked dinner on a hot plate. We ended up staying only for a weekend because the landlady got drunk and hit on my mom. The apartment was attached to the landlady’s house. My mom borrowed some money, and we moved back to our two-bedroom, two-bathroom place somehow.

Even with all of these blaring clues, the poverty did not hit me until I became a middle school fashion outcast. Everyone had designer jeans, and I got made fun of a lot for not having the proper clothes. My father, during one of his rare moments when he remembered he was my father, had taken me to Burdines in his little MG convertible to buy the jeans the week before Dickhead called out my poor hygiene. I was THRILLED about the jeans, obviously. Today, they sell Jordache at Walmart, but back in the early 80’s they were only at Burdines or Macy’s or Jordan Marsh – places where poor people didn’t shop.

jordacheShortly after this, at Christmas, my mom’s boss bought me a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt black denim jeans because my mom could not afford them. I had seen the commercials and just had to have them. So when my mom’s boss asked her what I wanted for Christmas, she told him. He didn’t know what size I was, so he just grabbed a pair at Jordan Marsh and told my mom to exchange them. Of course, the pair he gave me was size “tall and skinny.”  I have always been size “short and stout as the little teapot.” After I exchanged the jeans and got the right size, I was able to rotate my pants throughout the week. I even got a pair of Sergio Valente jeans from my mom, but I hated them because they had pink threading. My mom has always loved pink.  I prefer black.

When I was in eighth grade, two amazing things happened.  First, the county changed the school boundaries.  This enabled me to leave McNichol Middle where everyone picked on me, and start attending Olsen. On my first day at Olsen, I met Hillary, a super nice girl who introduced me to all her friends. I finally had NICE friends who were not mean to me. Hillary also helped me dress better. She told me I needed to get Guess jeans and huge EG socks. Hillary also taught me how to layer my tank tops to match my layer socks. She helped me with my eye makeup so that I didn’t look like Ozzy Osbourne pretending to be a raccoon anymore.


The second amazing thing is my mom met my step-dad.  Until then, my mom had been super protective of me.  I wasn’t allowed to do much. My step-dad encouraged her to let me hang out with my new friends. I went to the mall, to the movies, and to the beach like a normal 13-year-old Floridian. My step-dad also liked to shop. He would bring me home Guess jeans and other cool things from Macy’s.  I had the right clothes and the right friends. Life was finally coming together.

I still got picked on by some kids for being chubby, having pimples, crying in math class (I’ve always loathed numbers) and sucking at every team sport ever played in middle school PE. I still had bad hair days because I insisted on having my hair chopped into an 80’s do, against Hilary’s advice. Overall, though, eighth grade was a big positive turning point.  I didn’t even wear my Jordache jeans anymore.  Guess was WAY cooler.

Originally published on  Knot So Subtle .

Middle School Brothel Culture

When I was typing the title of my blog, I asked my husband if there should be a hyphen in Middle School. He said, “No, and apparently there’s no hymen either.” Yes, he’s right about that, and unfortunately we learned a lot of things about middle schoolers this year that we would really rather not think of. It would be so much easier to stick our heads in the sand with the other parents. So much easier.

Middle School Lisa was NOT having sex.  Shocking, I know.
Middle School Lisa was NOT having sex. Shocking, I know.

When I was in eighth grade, the big rumor was that R and M had sex and used a blue condom.   This was big news because NO ONE IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE SEX IN EIGHTH GRADE EVEN WITH COLORED CONDOMS and we knew this. The girls gathered to talk about M. One girl created a nickname for her, “Butter because she spreads easy.” Well, even then I thought that margarine would have probably been a better name if that was the reasoning. I kept my mouth shut because I was glad to NOT be the victim of middle school ridicule for once, and if you looked at the picture above, you know this was rare. M was called Butter all through eighth grade and high school. No one was high fiving her or R for their actions. We all thought it was weird, really, and not cool. It was embarrassing for both R and M and neither of them bragged about it.

Times they are a changin’.

I have middle schooler and I have learned things that keep me awake at night. I mean, the drug dealing, huffing, and cutting were already horrors for me, but recently I learned that a lot of kids are having sex at 12 or 13.

Yes, you read that right. They are losing their virginity before they develop all of their molars, or brain cells. Here’s the kicker – they are also NOT USING CONDOMS. Here in the corn state, the kids are given the abstinence education version of sex ed. They don’t learn about birth control or STD’s. They are just told basically what sex is and to not do it until they are married. Well, that is obviously working well.

From what I am hearing, kids seem to be having sex wherever they can, even in school. Last week, I heard about two different “couples” having sex in school bathrooms, one in middle school and one in high school.  Last time I checked, the bathroom was a place where people, peed, pooped, and vomited. It’s not exactly a romantic place. Plus, people are walking in and out all of the time. There is nothing not icky about this situation.

Eight grade Lisa.  She really rocked the blue pantyhose.
Eight grade Lisa. She really rocked the blue pantyhose.

It’s a different world. When I was in eighth grade, my big concerns were how white my new Ked’s were or if my mom would let me go to the movies on Friday night. I fully understood that sex caused babies, and most likely a good beating.   There was no way that I wanted either. Now, if you get pregnant when you’re a teenager, you can get your very own TV show and become a “celebrity.”  If I had gotten pregnant, I would have gotten a beating and a trip to the abortion clinic.  I definitely would not have gotten a TV show.  Heck, this was back when MTV still had music videos.

You’re welcome for the awkward photos.

Disclaimer: This was originally posted on my fantastically unpopular Salon.com blog about four years ago. I no longer have a middle schooler and I have finally unclenched my shoulders from 3 years of horror.

Google Stalking a Former Bully

How could she not make fun of this?
How could she not make fun of this?

As your token work from home hermit friend, I spend a lot of time on ye olde interwebs. Basically, unless I am sleeping or doing something that requires water, I’m online at least five days a week. Like you, I sometimes need a break. Unlike you, I don’t have a water cooler to gather around with my co-workers. So, I browse the Internet. I think “surf” is the hip term, but as I may have mentioned, I’m old-fashioned. Every so often, someone from my past comes to mind and I wonder whatever happened to that person. So, I Google stalk him or her. Most of the time, I can’t find anything on the person because of a common name like Smith or Sullivan. Sometimes, I hit GOLD, though, like I did with my former bully, Z.W. If her initials are Z.W. you can probably imagine her name. I won’t share her name with you, but I will share the letter I would like to send her.

Dear Z,

You probably don’t remember me. I was that short, chubby, white girl that you used torment at McNichol in the mid 80’s. Well I’m still a short, chubby, white girl, but you don’t torment me anymore.

Remember the day that I hit you? I’ve never been so angry in my life. Well, maybe I have been angrier since then. You were sitting behind me in pre-algebra. Remember, we had that teacher who probably kept Bourbon in her desk? She was one of those mean, raspy-voiced drunks, and she had that pube-like hair – just frazzled. Between her scary “teaching” style and your constant criticism, and the fact that it was MATH class, I was in tears nearly every day.

I remember that one day you were poking me in the back because of course you just had to sit right behind me. I had enough, and I grabbed my yellow Jordache purse and I swung it around and hit you right in the head. You’re so lucky we didn’t carry big smart phones around back then. You looked so shocked. I was shocked too. You said something about kicking my ass, or whatever, but you never did. You just threatened me a lot, as usual, but then you sort of left me alone. I don’t regret hitting you.

Not only were you mean, but you had everything I wanted. You had Gucci and Louis Vuitton purses. You had Beverly Hills Polo Club outfits — everything I wanted. I could never understand how someone who was as rich as you appeared to be went to McNichol – a ghetto school. For some reason, you came to mind recently, so I Googled you and I figured it out.

I found an article about your stepdad being arrested as one of the biggest heroin dealers in South Florida. The article talked about how you lived in a huge house on three lots, but located in the hood. There was even a quote from you yelling about how they didn’t know what kind of man he was. It all made sense then. I lost all anger towards you and totally understood. You had a heckuva life. You may have had all those things but you had a lot of drama at home; I’m certain of it. If we had ever actually talked in school, we probably would have been friends.

Through the magic of Google, I see that you’re now a midwife and an all-around very spiritual person. You are also an artist. I have to say Z, I never would have pictured you becoming the person you are today. I’m happy for you. You seem peaceful–so far away from that mean girl I knew. Good for you, Z.


That little, fat white girl


My CATS have more sense than Mary Kay Letourneau.


When the whole Mary Kay Letourneau story originally broke in March of 1997, I had literally JUST given birth to my baby boy.  I sat there holding him and watching the news, and shaking my head.  Only one thought crossed my mind, “If a creepy almost middle-aged teacher ever has sex with my son when he is 13, or any age less than like 30, I will cut her. She would not even make it to court, or jail, or out of the back seat of her mom minivan, because I would stab her.”  Those were my exact thoughts, folks, because I am a mama lion.

Seeing as how I sit home in my jammies and talk to cats a lot, it can be assumed that I spend a LITTLE time on Facebook.  It’s where my friends “are” and it is where I get most of my news.  Earlier today, in my newsfeed, I saw that Mary Kay was arrested again.  It was for something dumb like driving without a current license, but you know where my mind went. I immediately wondered whose innocent little boy she was trying to get to impregnate her now.  Why can she not get run over by the Polar Vortex or something?

I know that was mean, and very not yuppie Buddhist, but Mary Kay just never stops being icky to me. She had babies with a middle schooler, you guys!  Think about that. I used to be a middle school teacher.  I never found my students to be possible, um, partners. Not only is it sick and morally wrong, but also middle schoolers are just not sexy.

First of all, have you SMELLED a middle-schooler lately?  They either smell like rotting lumberjacks or cheap car wash deodorizer.  It’s the age when parents have to force them to shower! You have to hold them down or roofie them to get them to put on deodorant.  When they do take an interest in their own scent, they fumigate with Axe.  Really, Mary Kay?  That is what you found irresistible, lumberjack armpits and greasy hair behind a fog of aerosol?

If the odor doesn’t get you, the attitude will.  I would rather sit outside in the negative whatever temperatures we have had here in Ohio than hang out with middle schoolers ever again.  Ever.  They are the most obnoxious individuals.  I know this because I was one.  Back in the day, before caller ID, cell phones, and helicopter moms, my BFF and I used to torment dorky kids and old folks with prank calls.  Seriously.  Mary Kay, did you sit there and laugh when Vili called your elderly neighbor to see if his refrigerator was running. So hot.

The barely teens are also big betters and darers, especially the boys. They dare each other to drink hot sauce and eat bugs.  I hope Mary Kay drew the line when her lover wanted to make her son eat a jar of horseradish.  Things get weird when your almost pseudo step-dad is in your class.

Mary Kay, I get that Vili is 30 now, and supposedly it’s no longer icky, but he became your, I’m going to vomit just saying this, LOVER, when he was 13.  Why and how did you ever find him sexy?  Was it because there was no Match.com back then?  Please stay out of trouble, girl.  I get the barfy chills when I see your name in my newsfeed.