I’m not a fan of the pigeon-hole, of the stereotype, but I think as a kid it can be a reassuring trope – something to help define your character while battling the very oxymoronic (and hormonal) state of being a teenager.
At high school I would have been best described as a “Theatre Dag”. Like a member of Glee Club before they made a cutting-edge (?) TV series about it. I went to a catholic school in Newie and befriended a bunch of like-minded girls whom the cool girls called “the lezos” (sic). We weren’t lesbians (not that there’s anything wrong with being a lesbian) but we were girls who actually enjoyed each other’s company rather than suffered cooldom together in aloof stupor. We made up (awesome) dances and songs in the playground at lunchtime and did our very best to fend off all the accusations of shit-hotness. Not.
I was an introvert at school (go on, laugh, get it off your chest) and performing was my way of being creative, of being the centre of attention which I secretly craved. Nothing much has changed, although I now err on the side of extraversion and you wouldn’t pay me to sit next to a clown.
There were a couple of salient incidents in high school that cemented this idea of who I was – a performer.
One of these came in 1987, when I was in Grade 10. Some wankerpreneur conceived the winning concept of pop-star night at Shockwave Connection on Hunter Street, where schools battled it out on stage in a miming contest. Oh yeah, like karaoke except you ALWAYS SOUNDED GOOD. It was hideous.
My friends and I entered the contest and rocked up to the nightclub to mime and dance to such classics as Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” and Mel ‘n’ Kim’s “Respectable” (go on, I know you want to flail your arms in a “Tay Tay”). My offering was a coquettish version of “Trust Me” by Kate Ceberano. I don’t remember a great deal about the performance (and mercifully there are no photos) except my boobs kept slapping me in the face and one of the two guys I was dancing with got a tremendous woody.
The cool girls from school came along to heckle us and lounge against the bar drinking mocktails, looking down their noses at the lezos who were embarrassing them. It was pretty mortifying, but then, I didn’t see any of them giving the boys a woody.
The following year my family moved to Queensland and once again I fell in with the arty/dancy/theatrical types at Hervey Bay College. It was around this time that I became *cough* mildly obsessed with Kate Bush and transmogrified into a hippy chick. I copied Kate’s fashion, her eerie dance moves and her weirdness (noting I was very thankful that the wind didn’t change).
My school was a so-called “progressive” college with no uniform and most of the kids wore makeup to school. Having come from a catholic school with a strict dress code, I wasn’t used to wearing makeup (except when I was giving boys woodies) and rebelled against it.
In Year 12, my debating team got through to the state finals and I had to travel to Maleny with the rest of my team, none of whom I liked very much. The other two girls in the team often commented derisively on my fashion sense and my non makeup stance and on the first night of the competition they took me aside and advised me they were going to educate me about makeup. In retrospect, I hope they meant they were going to apply lipstick to my face rather than up my arse, but I didn’t even give them the chance to demonstrate their cosmetic prowess. Instead I told them to “stuff off” or something similarly beguiling because, well, teenager.
Nothing much has changed since then. At the core of my personality is that if you tell me I can’t do something I’ll sure as hell do it, and if you tell me I have to do something, I definitely won’t. On principle. Oh, and mock my dramatic antics at your own peril.
The following year I buggered off to Uni and mum told me that these same girls who had poo-pooed my flowing dresses and massive earrings were now wearing; you guessed it, flowing dresses and massive earrings.
Linking up with Rachel in #thelounge for a spot of teenage ratbagdom.