Tag: Stories

Topic: Who Were You in High School? The Mean Girl? Or the Outcast?

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

I try to think back and imagine the girl that I was way back then, but I can’t really recall too much of anything (OY!).  I know that would normally be a sign of someone suppressing a traumatic time in their life, but I had a great childhood, and from what I can remember…a fine time in High School.  For me this is nothing new …my memory just sucks.  I can hardly remember the details of the births of my children let alone the thousands of hours I walked the halls in my high school or the names of the kids I’ve known since the 3rd grade.

So, who was I in High School?

Was I popular?  No.  But I was cute…in an unremarkable kind of way.   I was nice and fun to be with, but not popular.  More like “middle of the road” on a scale of having no friends…………….to being popular.  And, for the first year or so, I wasn’t loyal to (or was it that I really wasn’t a part of?) any one group in particular, but sort of glided around the edges of many.

And then I met…“the boys in the band.”

They called themselves “Oakfield” which combined the names of the two towns the boys lived in.  And they made me feel like I was finally a part of a group.  And I liked the bass player.  And he liked me.

And he had amazing long hair that flowed down to his shoulders and hung in his eyes when he closed them to play the bass guitar, and in High School…that whole musician with the long hair thing was a pretty big deal.

So, for a long time in High School…I was unremarkably cute, with a boyfriend who had amazing long hair, who played in a band.  And, because I was hanging out with boys in a band who DIDN’T EVEN GO TO MY HIGH SCHOOL…it also made me kinda cool.

But I wasn’t popular.   I didn’t do sports.  I didn’t have particularly good or bad grades.  And I didn’t consider myself to be a “joiner.”

In my Senior year however, I decided to join the  “backpacking club,” which was made up of a small group of kids who were into hiking and camping.  As a Jewish kid from the suburbs who had never hiked before (later I found out it was just walking on dirt), or gone camping (I did go to “camp” for 5 years…but it was a high-end Jewish camp where they unpacked your clothes for you before you arrived…so it wouldn’t really qualify as a “camping experience”) it was really a kind of mysterious and almost rebellious thing for me to join.

So imagine my surprise when they nominated me to be their Homecoming Queen candidate.  I hadn’t even gone on any hikes or camping yet!  But I was flattered…and a little confused.  I didn’t really fit the typical mold for a Homecoming Queen.  But as the two boys who organized the club explained to me…that was the point.  They didn’t want a “typical” girl to be nominated for the Homecoming Queen from the backpacking club…they wanted a typical “backpacking girl.”  Aha…that explained it.  I, apparently, had backpacking girl written all over me!

Which I thought was pretty cool.

Unfortunately, my elation at being labeled as a backpacking girl was almost immediately shot down when I was called into the principals’ office after he heard that our “float” for the homecoming parade was a little red wagon…complete with towering cardboard buildings with colored smoke pouring out of their tops depicting the rampant pollution being poured into our atmosphere by Corporate America (which I do credit as the start of my early political career).   He was not happy.  He firmly believed we were trying to make a mockery out of the Homecoming Event and threatened to pull our Club from the whole thing.

OMG…I had NEVER been in trouble in High School before.  I was a pretty good kid.  Some would probably say too good a kid.  I always respected authority and followed the rules, and if I didn’t, I didn’t get caught…except for the time I got caught smoking within 1 foot of the “no smoking” zone and they called my mom, but that time it was really about getting in trouble with my parents, not in school.

I talked my way out of the situation by claiming that we were not in any way making fun of the sanctity and tradition of Homecoming…but rather, we were expressing our views about our love and respect for our environment, which was pretty cool back in 1974!  And he bought it.

So following the big Homecoming football game, we were allowed to roll out our little red wagon with it’s colored smoke pouring out of the top…while I followed behind sitting atop an old Mustang (we tried for a cool jeep, but nobody owned one in suburban Michigan at the time) dressed in matching denim over-alls, flannel shirts, and yes…backpacks, with my date (the boy from the band) feeling and looking pretty damn cool.

I didn’t win as Homecoming Queen.  BUT NOW I was an unremarkably cute member of the Homecoming Queen’s Court… with a boyfriend who had amazing long hair, who played in a band.

Other than that…I didn’t have anything else I was known for, or for that matter, any identifiable talents at all.  I didn’t excel at anything.  But I didn’t fail at anything either.

So I guess at the end of the day, I was…pretty average.

I was an average student, with average looks, an average number of friends, who did an average amount of “stuff”…in High School.

Who was I in high school?  That’s a hard question to answer.  My gut reaction is to say, “fuck if I know”, but that doesn’t really make for a compelling answer, does it?

I spent a lot of high school in my head.  It’s kind of a lonely place, in your head.  I just thought a lot.  I listened to music a lot.  I watched a lot.  I didn’t speak a lot.  As a result, lots of people called me stuck-up and rude (which is really helpful and totally awesome).  Others called me shy.  I was just nervous.  Though “just nervous” doesn’t really cover it.  I worried about everything and anything.  I was nervous about getting bad grades, about writing papers, about what people would think of my clothes.  Turns out I have a pretty severe anxiety disorder that was WAY out of control.  In a sense, I was paralyzed by fear.  My nerves kept me from doing anything.  And the truth is, I just accepted that and decided that I didn’t WANT to do anything.  I didn’t really want friends.  I didn’t really want to have fun.  As a result, I never snuck out to meet a boy, I never took my parent’s car for a joy ride, and I never got drunk in the bathroom at prom (though I can totally name names).  I just kept my head down and my mouth shut.

I was always defined by my relationship to others.  I was “that girl’s friend” or “that guy’s prom date”, or “that really awesome kid’s sister”.  (I’m still “that awesome kid’s sister”, but I’m okay with that).  I was never really “Ally”.  Because of this, it’s hard to say who I was in high school.

This also meant that I didn’t participate in anything.

I never played sports, because competition mixed with physical exertion scared the shit out of me (still does).  I remember going to my counselor my freshmen year and asking to be excused from Freshmen Fitness (HELL ON EARTH).  It was required for all students, but I was so freaked out by it that I went and asked if I could get out of it.  My counselor asked me why this class made me nervous.  I said I didn’t really know.  Then she asked if my parents were divorced.  I said no and she just sort of shrugged and let me take another class instead.  So, I guess the lesson is that your parent’s marital status influences your athleticism?  Or your anxiety around team sports?  I never found out, but my parents are divorced NOW, so who the hell knows what THAT means for my future in physical education.

(Not that I’ve put a lot of hopes and dreams into PE or anything, but now I feel like I don’t even have the OPTION.)

(Just another thing I can blame my parents for.)

I’m not good at art, either.  Most kids like me are able to find a niche in high school by painting or drawing or building sets for the school play.  Not me.  My drawing skills have not improved since I was 4, and the only painting I truly enjoy (or am good at) is the kind you do with your fingers on a table your mom covered in newspaper.

I dropped out of band and color guard (you know, those girls who twirl flags).  See?!  I was so much of an outcast that I didn’t even fit in with the band kids.

I once went to a meeting for the Amnesty International Club, but that was because a cute boy named Mike was going… and he just went for the free pizza, so that didn’t really last.

(But stalking the cute boy TOTALLY PAID OFF.  It’s the best thing I did in high school…)

Needless to say, high school was a bit depressing (except for said cute boy).  Weren’t these supposed to be the “best days of my life”?  Someone once asked one of my favorite teachers that, and he said “hell no… I promise, life gets better than this.”

And I gotta say, that made me feel a whole lot better.

And he was totally right.

No.  Expiration dates are a giant conspiracy from manufacturers to get us to throw out everything in our pantry and buy new soup or olives or ketchup in order to keep them in business.

(OK, maybe a little paranoid…but maybe not.)

I mean…what’s so bad about soup that’s been in a can in your pantry for lets say…6 years?  It’s in a can for God’s sake!  The cans’ purpose is to keep that food contained until you are ready to eat it. No air can get in, and they’re so loaded up with preservatives that no bacteria, bugs or other bad things could live in there anyway.  So what’s the big deal!?!

Note:  I think preservatives are one of the greatest things ever created.  They’re designed to preserve things…forever…and at my age, I eat as many things loaded with preservatives as I possibly can.

I will go so far as to say that preservatives have made expiration dates…obsolete.

Except for milk.  Which I don’t need an expiration date to tell me has gone bad.

Or cottage cheese.  Or anything dairy or meat/fish/poulty, or fruits and vegetables or leftovers left in the refrigerator for more than 5 days for that matter.  They all need to be tossed on a regular basis.  They don’t come with expiration dates…but I’m not stupid…I KNOW THEY EXPIRE!

But ketchup?  Come on!  That stuff has got to have a shelf life of 6.2 million years!!!

So what about medicines?  I confess, I don’t check the expiration date on pill bottles (I know, you’re shocked!).   I know I probably should, because that stuff might really do some harm if it’s past its prime – or worse, not provide the intended relief it was designed to provide.

But it takes so much time to go to the other room…find a pair of reading glasses…turn on enough light to read in the bathroom…find the expiration date on the pill bottle…and then make a decision if I’ve had it “too long” (since I don’t automatically believe the expiration date in the first place).

From years of experience however, I can tell you that Tums don’t loose their fast acting antacid relief even after they’ve been sitting in a drawer for about 5 years (although they no longer resemble the original shape or color of a Tum) .  Advil still works even if it hasn’t seen the light of day since the First Bush was President.  And, Vicodin NEVER stops working.

But antibiotics are a different story.  I was married to a doctor after all so I KNOW that if you find a rogue antibiotic laying in the bottom of a pill bottle you probably shouldn’t take it…even if you’re dying.  In fact, you should be wondering if the illness you were suffering from way back when was actually cured, since you obviously didn’t finish taking all of your antibiotics at that time!!!

In all fairness though, expiration dates can tell us how long the manufacturer thinks their product will be most effective…but it’s up to each of us to determine if using their product whenever, is still good enough.  Obviously, if they really thought it would be dangerous for us to use their product after a certain amount of time, they would build in a self-destruct mechanism to destroy it on the expiration date.  And since that isn’t the case…I don’t think expiration dates matter at all.

I should subtitle this post: Stories of my Father.


I can remember sitting at the kitchen counter watching my mom clean out the refrigerator.  She was busy tossing expired milk, old yogurt, and moldy bread in the trashcan.  (That makes it sound like we only had rotting food… we only SOMETIMES had rotting food.)  My dad was busy taking the food OUT of the trashcan, saying things like, “just cut off the moldy parts and it’s perfectly fine”, and “do you know what yogurt is?  Bacteria laden OLD MILK!”


I was sick earlier this year and had a cough that kept me up at night, so I asked my dad for some cough syrup.  He gave me a bottle of brown liquid that was apparently “Black Cherry Explosion” flavored.

Me: “Dad, this expired in 1994.”

Dad: “Medicine doesn’t go bad.  It’s just a ploy to get you to buy more.”

Me: “Dad, do you realize that you have not only had this for over a decade, but you actually packed this in a box and moved it to a new house… TWICE.”

Dad: “Well, it’s probably just extra potent now!”

Me: “Yeah, but will it kill me?”

Dad: “Maybe.”

Me: “Awesome.”

(I tried not to take it, but at some point I got so desperate that I just closed my eyes and took a swig.  It worked, but for my own peace of mind, I bought a new bottle.)


Dad: “We have two kinds of salad dressing… Oh wait, they’re the same kind.”

Mike: “Brian, they’re different colors.  How OLD are these?”

Dad: “Hm… Shut up and eat your salad, Mike.”


I went down to Denver to my grandmother’s house.  We went to the basement to clean out her office.  Between the shelves of Christmas decorations and newspapers from the 1960s were cabinets with food.  There was a small glass jar with artichoke hearts.  The liquid inside had almost solidified and there was yellow stuff floating inside it.  The expiration date had faded off.  At least I know where my dad gets it from.


I live with a boy who throws away milk 2 days before the expiration date.  Now I’m the one taking the yogurt out of the trash.

So do expiration dates matter?  According to my dad, not so much. But have you ever accidentally covered your salad with really old dressing that your father refuses to throw away?  Trust me, it’s not a pleasant experience.

Topic: Piercings

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

I’m all for them…within some seriously defined boundaries of moderation.

I have my ears pierced, in two places (close together in the “normal” part of the pierce-able bottom ear lobe…none of that top ear lobe cartilage stuff). Honestly, I’m not sure why I ever got the second holes put in.  Most days, I only think to put one set of earrings in my lobes, but I think I like the option of putting two sets in at one time…especially when I have the time and/or energy to search through my mini earring supply and find a set that would look smashing with another fabulous pair on hand.

I also had a belly button ring for a while.  I did it with Ally when she turned 16.  She asked if I would go with her, and as any mother of a teenager will tell you…if your 16-year-old kid actually WANTS to do something with you, even if it means poking a long sharp needle into your inny or outty…you DO IT!

I remember the two of us leaving the piercing “salon” and walking down the street feeling all cool…while holding the top of our pants down below our hips so that the waistbands wouldn’t rub against the newly stabbed portions of our belly buttons.  Unfortunately, after the initial “I’m such a cool mom” phase wore off, and the healing process ended (which took an abnormally long time for me – being that it was an older belly button), I realized that the whole belly button ring thing was an absolute bitch to maintain.

I would spend an inordinate amount of time during my daily grooming focused on my naval.  Honestly, it had never really been that big a part of my cleaning routine before, but it definitely took a whole lot of time to clean it and would take even longer for me to change the jewelry in it!  I swear it took HOURS to wrangle that ring, or little jeweled barbell in and out through the two little holes in the upper lid of my naval.  And, after all that work, nobody could see how cool it made me, or how well it went with my outfit, because it was…HIDDEN!

Seriously…what was the point!?!

So I took it out and never looked back, or at my belly button for that matter!

Even though I would consider myself pretty open minded to most things centered around personal adornment, I have to admit that I’m not crazy about piercings on lips, eye brows, noses, nipples or pretty much any other body part that sport a ring or dangling piece of jewelry.  Those cute little dots of jewels that women wear in the soft fold of their noses?  I think those are OK.  But when they hang a  ring through their nostrils, or through their eyebrows, or God forbid in their lips or tongues…I want to pull on them.  I want to flick them.  I want to yank them out.

When it really comes down to it, though, I think it’s less about the piercings per se and ALL about the Jewelry.  Simply put, piercings provide an opportunity to wear body jewelry.  And I take the coordination of jewelry, any kind of jewelry…really seriously.

I have visions of a future where I’m in an old-folks home and all of my peers are covered in silver studs and tattoos.  I figure it’ll make bingo more exciting.

I think some people get piercings as a form of self-expression.  Others get them because they think it looks good.  I also know people who do it because they like the pain (I’m not here to judge).  Me, the only body piercing I have I got because my mom made me.

My mom wanted her belly button pierced.  I was almost 16, so she told me we should get them together.  Even though every girl I knew was practically begging their moms to let them do it, my mom had to convince me.  For whatever reason I didn’t have any desire to have a gigantic needle shoved through my stomach.  But I did it, and I still have it, though it hasn’t seen the light of day since I was a size 2.  (It’s been awhile.)

When I got my bellybutton pierced I was trying (unsuccessfully) to be friends with my ex-boyfriend.  He was 100% against it because he thought if I got my bellybutton pierced (even if it was my mom’s idea) it would lead me on a path to sex with strangers and heroin benders.  (Did I mention he was a strict Mormon?)  I figured if I was going to hell, a bedazzled belly button was the least of my worries.

Other than that, I have 3 holes in each ear lobe, but rarely wear anything but simple silver balls in them.  I used to have two holes in the cartilage of my left ear, but it never healed, so after a few years of not being able to sleep on that ear, I took it out.  (There’s only so much pain a girl can take before she gives up on looking cool.)

As far as seeing piercings on others, I don’t really care.  I think those teeny-tiny nose studs are cute, but other facial piercings don’t really appeal to me.  Have you ever seen those piercings that are surgically implanted under the skin?  People usually get them on the back of their neck or on (in?) their chest.  Those hold a sort of morbid fascination for me.  The first time I saw one I was sitting behind a girl in a sociology class in college.  I couldn’t tell what the hell I was looking at (are those glued on? just stuck in there?), and I totally had to hold myself back from reaching out and poking the back of her neck (which, I assume, would be fairly awkward).

Personally, I have no idea what drives people to shove rings through their nipples or baby makers… but I guess I’m just missing something there.

I guess I believe that as long as nobody is coming at me with a needle, I figure people can do what they want.  Then again, if I was a mom and my baby came to me with a ring shoved through some part of his or her body… I might have a problem with it.  And I’d probably have to blame his or her Grandma Cindy.