In the process of going through some of the stuff downstairs, I came across my "stash".
Every teenage boy has one, of one type or another. Some have certain back issues of National Geographic. Some scored some battered Playboys from a neighbor's unlocked garage. Some swiped copies of Hustler from their live-in uncle. Some end up with their collection after their dads move out and forget their pile of smut.
Me, I bought my stack of Penthouse one issue at a time, from about mid-1985 onward. I was already 18 when I started this; before my brother began attending medical school he had a nasty tendency to go into my room when I wasn't home and paw through my stuff. (He had admitted to reading some of my writing, without my permission, and it had not been left laying out. Do the math.)
Anyway, the first issue of Penthouse I got was actually given to me by a friend. I still have it, though it's missing its cover. To keep my brother from finding it, I modified one of my stereo speakers--well, one of the side panels had fallen off, so I made a couple minor changes to it and ended up storing my smut inside the speaker. And once I was old enough (and had gutted it up sufficiently) I began buying the rag myself.
Strictly for the articles! --not; I wanted to see tits and ass and pussy, and Penthouse was the best way to accomplish that. Playboy was too tame, seldom letting the reader see between the model's legs; but Hustler was too explicit for my taste. Penthouse was the happy medium.
(Eh? "Why didn't you just go on the Internet?" My dear boy, this was 1986. You could get a 1200 baud modem for about $300, and it would only take about FIVE HOURS to download one picture. And CompuServe charged $10 an hour.)
Anyway, I never threw any of them out; so I still have the collection, in a banker's box in the basement. There's also some...other stuff...in there.
The journals are primarily two wire-bound notebooks covering early 1984 through late 1985. They're daybooks; they talk about things that happened and so on. Unfortunately, about 90% of the writing in these journals is about one Vicki Olsen, the absolute worst crush I ever had in my entire life.
So I sat down with this box of...stuff...and reread these words from half a lifetime ago. (More than half. 26 years. Jesus.)
...it read like something written by a girl.
I mean, it's full of gushy crap about Vicki, Vicki, Vicki--how she looked at me twice one day, what she was wearing the other day, how I found out who her favorite band was, blah blah blah, etcetera. And so I was sitting there, reading this crap, slowly growing more and more horrified as I realized Yes, you wrote this, and No, it's not fiction; it's fuckin' real.
Even better, though: every so often I'd come across a wisecrack or annotation, penned by me and dated sometime in June of 1995. (I couldn't resist adding a couple dated with today's date.)
Vicki lived in my neighborhood, one street over; when she first moved here, around the time we were eight, she was a gawky colt of a girl, about my height, with mousy brown hair and glasses. For a couple years I was friends with one of her neighbors, and she was friends with that kid's older sister, so we ran into each other once in a while but never said anything. The kid's sister didn't like me, so therefore Vicki didn't either, and I didn't really care anyway.
In junior high, she had braces and these hideous octagonal framed glasses, and the same mousy hairstyle. (She sat a couple seats over from me in 9th grade Biology, next to Alice Houston, with whom she was friends. That's a whole other story, right there.)
But all that changed over the summer of 1983. Since I no longer had friends in the neighborhood I lost track of her; and when she sat down next to me in Algebra II one fine late August morning in 1983, I lost my mind.
Glasses: gone. Braces: gone. Mousy hairstyle: gone. She was wearing jogging shorts and ankle socks, and I never noticed what kind of top she was wearing because OH MY GOD THOSE LEGS!
"Legs that wouldn't quit"? Her legs didn't know the meaning of the word. It didn't exist in their dictionary. In fact, just to make sure, her legs had carefully excised every last word starting with Q from their dictionary. If you asked her legs what the definition of "quantum" was, they would tell you, "There's no such damn word!" because "quantum" was too close to "quit", and they didn't even acknowledge the existence of the concept of quitting, much less that there should be a word for it. These legs were the Platonic ideal of legs for a caucasion human female aged 16.
The legs led me to notice the other things, the hair and glasses and stuff. And after that, I realized, Y'know, Vicki is actually really pretty.
Here you have a girl who's probably in the upper third of the popularity scale--if not higher--who has just managed to escape her chrysalis and is fanning her dazzling wings in the summer sun. Then there's the supremely unpopular guy on the branch next to her, a fuzzy brown caterpillar looking at her and thinking about how nice it would be if she were his girlfriend.
I never asked her out; I never even really spoke to her. To be honest, I couldn't: I was at the very bottom of the social ladder. Nobody liked me; my friends had to pretend they weren't my friends, lest they end up in the same shit I was in. Actually having a girlfriend was an impossible dream for me, in high school. Dating someone like Vicki, especially after her transformation? Forget it.
I knew it was totally hopeless; as far as I know there was never any girl in my class who was ever interested in me, any time after June of 1979. Like I said, "impossible"...so all my thoughts and hopes and dreams went into the notebooks.
And it was all gushy adolescent crap.
The worst thing about it is that--except for the vagaries of youth--it's so damn well-written. It's well-written gushy adolescent crap; it's the kind of thing a good writer might put in his story about a love-lorn teenager to lend versimilitude to it.
I say that 90% of it was about Vicki; but in fact it wasn't--it just seemed like it. There were a total of four girls I had crushes on during that time period. (I actually had conversations with one of them. How's that for revolutionary? 9_9) Vicki was just the one I kept coming back to. She'd get a boyfriend, I'd force myself to stop thinking about her; then she'd break up with the guy and I'd be right back in it.
She was the reason I started writing a journal in the first place, anyway. I kept it up for years; once I learned how to hide files on C-64 floppy disks, I began writing it on the computer. The only way you could open the file was if you knew the trick; and occasionally I worry that I might have forgotten how to recover those files. (I think you append ",s" to the filename when you want to load it...crap, now anyone can read that stuff.) But I wrote journal entries for quite a while.
I think partly that it appealed to the adolescent romantic in me; perhaps I thought that if I wrote about it often enough, I'd find the magic words that would make her mine, like the poetry of Cryano to Roxane. But all I ever managed to do was to write a bunch of sloppy guck.
* * *
Feb 18, 2011: after I had put everything away and put the box back where I found it, then I thought, WTF, was I a girl when I was in high school? Shit.
The last entry in the notebooks was dated August of 1985. That was 25 years ago (a bit more) and--predictably--it was about Vicki. I had written two love letters to her that summer, and actually sent them; neither ever prompted a reply, which really is just as well, considering.
She married a guy from our high school who was a year ahead of us, and they live somewhere around town. (Her surname is no longer "Olsen" which is why I use it here.) He's heavily involved in the local lodge. I have seen her a few times over the course of the years; why she--of all people!--was the classmate who also ended up living in Crete is beyond me, unless it's Fate wanting to flip me the bird Yet Again. I haven't seen any of my other classmates since 1985 and feel no poorer for it, but of course the one person I really don't want to see is living right here in town.
Hell, in 1998 I went to Bristol Renaissance Faire, and I saw her there. WTF.
I'm not interested in her; I haven't been for a long time. I don't want to see her; I don't want to talk to her, I don't want to have anything to do with her. I had a stupid adolescent crush on her, and I handled it badly; that's embarassing enough without having my face rubbed in it approximately at random.
* * *
On the plus side, if you ignore all the adolescent mush, it provides interesting insight into my teenage years. Oh, it's utter crap I don't want anyone to see until after I'm gone (say, 100 years from now or so, that'd do) but there are some neat bits in there about my day-to-day life in the 1980s.
Thanks to my journal habit (since abandoned) I know that my first kiss occurred on August 17, 1989. Whee! There's also a...detailed...description of one early make-out session with my first girlfriend in there. For some reason I printed those journal entries out and saved them; not sure why, but it makes for entertaining reading.
I feel as though I'm missing a journal notebook, though; I could have sworn there were three--but I have no idea where that third book would have gone, since there was absolutely no reason to split up the set; there's more than enough room in the box for more stuff. And no one should have been rooting around in that box, either. So it's likely just my imagination.
* * *
All of this kind of makes me want to dig out the C-64 and the floppies and see if I can read any of the other stuff. I could hook the computer to the laser printer in Mom's room and print the stuff out, too, so that it doesn't perish.
*sigh* Just what I need: Yet Another project.