It’s August 27. What the eff? My grandma was so right. Every Christmas she’d come through the door, arms full of packages and her everpresent laundry basket filled with Tupperwares of dips, talking smack about how goddamnit wasn’t it just Christmas? I was all like, aww hell naw! I’ve waited for what seems like an eternity for the chance at that purple Forenza sweater and woodworking kit (I liked to mix things up, gender wise)! Now that I’m old, I agree with her more and more. Time is flying.
So it’s almost September. Some people are gearing up for fall, days when they’ll bust out their sweaters inappropriately early, eat apples, plan trips to gawk at leaves, and so on. Not me. This time of year always takes me to one place. And it doesn’t matter that I’m now an old curmudgeon who loves to piddle around the garden and watch my stories (mainly, Roseanne), this time of year always reminds me of back to school. Geedee it, I hated this time of year for so much of my life. I went to Catholic school in those tender years, so our asses were going back to school in the twenties of August, though often it was so hot that school was canceled. No AC! As soon as the smoke settled after the fourth of July, my stomach would clench as the first back to school commercials would emerge, with 80s stylish boys and girls wearing the latest fashions, dancing around lockers and gyms. We had uniforms, no lockers and no gym, but the ads got their points across anyway. Later I always found it ironic that I ended up going to eleventy kintillion years of school, considering how much I hated K-12. Whatevs, I thought, it’s better than working! Wrong! Working has no homework, tests or papers! I ain’t that kind of lawyer! The downside of working is just that lil’ sneaking suspicion that this is it for the rest of your life, but once you accept that, you’re golden!
I did love getting my school supplies though. We had a bit of a golden age for school supplies in the 80s, wouldn’t you say? Do you remember how awesome the designs on the Trapper Keepers were? Speaking of back to school commercials, I still remember this one for Trappers:
Google around and refresh your memory of Trapper design awesomeness. The ONLY problem with Trappers was that your shit was only trapped and kept for so long in those bad boys, as the folders would tear and the velcro would come loose or collect too much shit to stay sticky. But anyway, back to the designs. You had your cute puppies, your Lisa Frank unicorns, cars/trucks for future Fox news type boys, and then you had just your awesome unexplainable, completely 80s-ed out designs. I had one of those for realz. Behold:
My other favorite school supplies from my youth included those multi-colored Bic pens (Still have one right now at the homestead–favorite color: green!) and those 80s mechanical pencils where you would change the little lead nubs when they got worn down, eventually leaving you with a plastic stick decorated with unicorns, filled with dull lead nubs. You know, like these: (courtesy of Branded in the 80s):
Then you’d get your books and have to slap covers on those puppies ASAP. Mom, do we have any extra grocery bags even though there won’t be Trader Joe’s around here for 20 years?
Enough with the walk down memory lane. For this week’s Forgotten Song Friday (Come on, I couldn’t do it EVERY week!), I thought I’d take you back to a memorable back to school time for yours truly. Backstory: I transferred colleges a lot. I couldn’t find a good one. I wasn’t as lucky as Double S, who had no majors, minors or tests and ruled the school at The Evergreen State College. I had to shop around. For my sophomore year, I transferred to my first big public (read: non Catholic) state college. The Harvard of the Midwest! Really, it was! They (and every other state school in the midwest) told us so!
It was August 1994, Kirksville, Missouri. We were in that weird pop culture period musically where popular songs at least seemed to have a bit of substance. You know, Nirvana, Arrested Development (the band), Public Enemy, 10,000 Maniacs, Rock the Vote (Far superior to Diddy’s “Vote or Die,” imho) for Bill Clinton, etc. Case in point:
And this. Are you registered, baby? And now you have an answer to whether they did anything else besides “Groove is in the Heart.”
And this, from Bill Clinton’s first inaugural ball. Tears and goosebumps!
Two of my favorites “alternative” artists (I still love calling things “alternative”) at the time, rocking Clinton’s inauguration. I thought I was in for much goodness to come. Oh, young Briggsy, you had so much to learn.
Anyway, back to August of ’94. All I can say is that my life was pretty plain as I lugged my totes of oversized flannel shirts and Gap striped tee shirts and cassettes and REM posters and ragingly heavy 19 inch console teevee up the steps of Centennial Hall and went to my transfer student orientation. I simply couldn’t escape this song being played everywhere, as I watched northeastern Missouri puddles gather rain… Ladies and gents, I give you the everpresent theme song of my first few weeks of my sophomore year in college, Blind Melon’s “No Rain.”
Now Bee Girl is living in a loft in Williamsburg, writing her fat positive blog and still thinking about that possible lawsuit against Little Miss Sunshine. I keed. It’s a zine. She’s old school.
I heard this song as I went to ice breakers for transfer students, as I tie dyed (Yep!) my orientation tee shirt, and watched dudes play hacky sack in the quad. It was everywhere.
The year prior also had a prominent song. Counting Crows, “Mr. Jones.” Why yes! I am incredibly white! This song was rocking room 302 in my freshman dorm as I watched Ricki Lake with my roommate and went to dinner at 4:30 and stayed until the end, ripping napkins and making salt piles. Was I the only one who did this?
Yes, I used to rock out to a white guy with dreads on the regular, as I made that 4 hour drive from KC to STL. I rocked I-70! Ed’s note: August and Everything After still holds up.
Speaking of, I slept with your man, and I’ll do it again, and again and again. Just sayin.
I think I watched that instead of that communications class I skipped, after I overslept for French. Hi oh!
Then the lead singer of Blind Melon Shannon Hoon died of an OD, Kurt C. died of an OD/suicide, Arrested Development broke up, and then it was the late 90s and pop music has pretty much sucked universally since then and I’m old.
But I’m still moved by these songs that remind me of new times and new places and unused Mead college ruled (FOREVER!) notebooks and electives . Maybe it’s the move to a new place that made songs so memorable, and for most of my life I only moved to a new place to go to a new school. Whenever I hear the the following classics, I remember when I moved to NYC in August of 1999 for law school.
Or this one, baby girl.
Hearing these will always transport me to my first days in NYC. Kumbaya-ing it up at my new “alternative” law school (EVERYTHING was genocide), days of DRIVING (what was I thinking?) around the confusing and fairly unpleasant streets of Kew Garden Hills, Queens, going to a law school that literally used to be a junior high (and engaging in junior high-esque behaviors. Go Class of ’02!), (not) studying New York Civil Procedure, getting made fun of for my midwestern accent, wondering why NYC grocery store aisles are so small, drinking and being overwhelmed. Good times…
So when you see me wistfully smiling when Blind Melon comes on at the grocery store (The main place I now hear it. True story! I heard it late the other night at Trader Joe’s), you know why! But I’m glad I’m now the oldy olson I now am. No pencils, books, or teachers’ dirty looks. Happy Friday Everybody!