Wednesday, May 30, 2018


You are thirteen years old
in 1989:
nothing you do is right.
You don’t want to wear makeup
or date boys,
but you don’t want to be a freak.
There is absolutely no choice
but to get your thin blonde hair
and to curl your bangs
and spray them liberally with Aqua Net.
The popular girls
with the bigger bangs and richer parents
have IOU sweatshirts,
purchased at Merry-Go-Round in Southlake Mall.
They wear multiple pairs of thick colored socks
and large hot pink scrunchies
and a thousand jelly bracelets.
The popular boys,
though still Neanderthals,
wear black Z. Cavaricci jeans
and Hypercolor sweatshirts
or purple plaid Skidz shorts.
Nothing you wear is right.
Everyone grins with metal braces
in their school photos.
Anywhere you go,
you are nasally assaulted by Exclamation
and Love’s Baby Soft perfume,
while the boys just smell like sweat and dirty socks and tuna sandwiches.
Birthday parties with six-foot Subway sandwiches
or sleepover pizza parties
and scavenger hunts.
You have your first crush
on a boy named Jason.
He has peroxide blonde hair.
He likes the Cure and the Smiths
and wears a leather jacket
with an enormous crucifix attached,
identical to the cross hanging on your living room wall.
He prefers your prettier best friend
and allegedly said that you were “nice but have Coke bottle glasses.”
You lie on the brown carpeted floor in the basement rec room,
listen to Depeche Mode at full volume
and just want to die.
You mom announces dinner.
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” you shout.
At the parish carnival,
you ride the flying bobs and tilt-a-whirl
while Poison and Guns N’ Roses blares.
A wristband lets you ride all day.
There’s a booth where you can buy roses for a dollar.
You’re pretty sure no boy is ever going to buy a rose for you.
Nothing you do is right.
Dream of growing up
and being a better you
and living far, far away.

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