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Through the Beers - Birth to College

Posted by Gwen |

Inspired by Whiskey Marie's recent post, The Chronicles of Hairnia, Or Alternatively, The Curling Iron, The Bitch, and The Bad Wardrobe, I spent hours yesterday poring over old pictures so that I could give you my own "bad fashion decisions" montage.

I'll start at the beginning, and will do my best to maintain a chronological timeline, but I can't promise anything more than warning you when I go tangential. Here I am with my beautiful mother. She says my entire body was covered in black hair when I was born. She was a young mother so I understood when she told me that she was afraid I was a monkey. Hey! Maybe that's why I love monkeys so much!

I also still talk with my hands.

Anyway, over time the black hair was replaced with white-blonde banana curls. Even then I couldn't pick a color or a style. My grandpa stopped speaking to my mom for two weeks when she cut my hair the first time. He would sit with me in his lap while he watched TV and absentmindedly wrap my hair around his fingers. I miss him.

TANGENT: here's one of my favorite pictures of me and my gramps. I was the recipient of his gently scoffing chuckle more times than I can remember. I was a bit of a pill as a baby, an infant, a teen, an adult, but he always loved me the same, no matter what. I know, I know, this so far hasn't had anything to do with bad fashion, so let's talk about what's wrong here . . . . I can't take a picture without making a stupid face and the bright red lipstick. You can't see it, but my hair was an ear-length, curled under pixie with bangs. I had not yet discovered hair color, so it's natural. And not peppered with gray.

I can't seem to locate any pictures from grade school. I've looked all over. I'm going to have to ask my mom if she has them. The one I would particularly love to post is of my and my brother. I bet I'm 12 and he's one, maybe 13 and 2. I have the biggest mess of twice-permed rat's nest hair. It is tight and it is huge. I promise to share when I can find it.

Fast forward to high school: My Junior Prom. Holy shinola, that combination of colors is painful. This was the first boy I ever seriously dated. I loved this boy a lot. I've always felt very connected to him in a metaphysical way. He was a bit reckless when we were young and I worried about him a lot. It was eery when we learned later that we both got married on the same day of the same year and honeymooned in the same location.

He once spray-painted a note to me on this viaduct. He was part of a little gang of teen-aged marauders called "Dev Inc", which stood for Devastation Incorporated. I've always loved the bad boys.

Speaking of bad boys, my Senior Prom date was a freshman at the local college. I met him one day after school when he was skating! around town. I swooned immediately! It's important that you understand I grew up in a town of 5,000 people in a small farming and mining community in central Illinois. We did not have skate punks and I loved skate punks.

The best part of this story is that I ran into him at a friend's Memorial Day party. My friend is his sister. When she found out who I was she screamed, "Oh, my God! We used to make fun of him for dating a townie and the townie was YOU?" For my IRL friends, his sister is Jen of Jen and Corey. I've been promising to share this picture with her for years. Thankfully my fashion sense had evolved. I actually like this picture. I remember feeling incredibly hot-to-trot that night because I was going to prom with a College Boy!

That isn't to say that my high school days were charmed by a Fashion Fairy Godmother. I made more than my fair share of mistakes, and it seems I always made the worst ones right before picture day at school.

Freshman Year

I found my locker and I found my classes,
Lost my lunch and I broke my glasses,
That guy is huge! That girl is wailin'!
First day of school and I'm already failing.
This is me in grade nine, baby, this is me in grade nine.
BNL, Grade 9

I spy argyle, a bad hair cut and an add-a-bead necklace.

Sophmore Year

I'm starting to look more self-assured but I promise you I wasn't. Behind that trendy 80's facade was an uneasy girl who was afraid to be different. Isn't it funny that we can still feel how mixed-up it felt to be a teen? Back then joy was big and noisy and sadness was painfully devastating.

I spy the same 'do as last year, just cut a little better.

Junior Year

Big changes Junior Year. I suddenly look like one of the bad-ass girls that smoked on the corner across the street from school at lunch. I'm kind of afraid I'm going to come off the page and threaten to kick my own ass after school behind the Dairy Queen.

I spy plastic costume jewelry, layering, and a femullet.

Senior Year

Finally a Senior, and thereby knowing everything I refused to smile for the photographer despite his threat to tell my mom. I was very self-conscious about my overbite and there was no way in hell I was ruining my Senior Picture. As if!

I spy a mint geen en sweater, flowered button-down shirt, and square mint green costume earrings paired with pearls. And a bad attitude.

The College Years

These pictures span several years, but all the hairstyles are variations of the same theme - big and curly. I spy a banana clip, a perm that needed a hot oil treatment, a leather thong necklace that was never, ever removed for any reason, Sally Jesse Rafael glasses, big bangs, and those wing things we created on the sides of our faces out of hair and a ton of Aqua Net. I might've had terrible taste in food (I'm certain that is McDonald's in the last picture), but I had great taste in men. Every one of the guys shown in these shots was funny and kind, and also hot. To this day I can't be around the one in the very first picture. We were great friends. I saw him two years ago at Homecoming. It was our 15-year reunion and yet I still got light-headed and short of breath when I spotted him across the bar, coming toward me and waving. I turned into the worst babbling idiot every time he talked to me that night. His power over me, it is intoxicating.

COMING UP: The married and working girl years


amy & jeff said...

You're brave Gwen.
I don't think I could handle the humiliation of sharing "Amy, From Really Fat To Kind Of Fat; A Photographic Journey of Self-Discovery" with the interwebs. Oooo, so bad.

Your hair rocked, though.

Littlebrr said...

I'm not sure what I enjoyed more, the pictures or the "I spy" part. You crack me up! I can't wait for the next one.

Whiskeymarie said...

Holy shit.

Your Junior & senior year slightly askew curling iron extravaganzas are awesome, to say the least.

I think you may have singlehandedly kept Ogilvie home perms in business, at some point.

So brave, my dear. I am awed.