Dear Abby died last month. I used to enjoy reading her advice columns. I used to enjoy writing my own advice columns.
My best friend and I joined the journalism staff in 9th grade. She became the editor-in-chief; I was a lackey. I didn’t really have an interest in a career in journalism; I had a serious interest in unlimited hall pass privileges and having an excuse to attend any event entertaining enough to warrant an article. We spent hours formatting the newspaper on her state-of-the-art desktop with changeable fonts and borders.
Our advice columnist, Gabriella Van Churen was a slight nod to Abigail Van Buren’s Dear Abby; we called her segment Dear Gabby. There was a drop box in the office where students could submit their concerns to be addressed in the monthly publication. I’m not sure there were any legitimate submissions. It didn’t matter. We had no trouble whatsoever fabricating our own. They frequently mirrored our own struggles with
boys life. Our advice frequently came from song lyrics. I distinctly remember one being a slight deviation from the Monkees’ song “Forget That Girl”… only instead of a girl in our advice column, it was a guy. It’s probably a good thing that legitimate submissions were limited; we were terrible advisers. It didn’t stop us from trying.
We created our own hall passes for the journalism staff which we mounted and laminated to make them more official. I’m pretty certain they were only supposed to be valid during 5th period, but we flashed them any time we felt like roaming the empty halls of the school. Which happened pretty regularly. It helped that we had a great relationship with the staff. There was only one time that relationship wasn’t helpful that year.
My best friend and I usually arrived at school a good 45 minutes before classes started so we could walk circles around the halls and catch up on everything that had crossed our minds between the time we hung up the phone at 2200 the night before and 0705 the following morning. [We frequently ran out of time, so we continued the conversation in a notebook which we passed back and forth between classes so there would be a permanent record of our conversations. It still exists. In several volumes. Somewhere. I think we each have at least one; like those best friends lockets that need to be brought together in order to be whole. The Notebook is just one more reason I think I’ll avoid running for public office anytime soon.]
One morning, we arrived at the school around 0705, as usual. The counselors were moving some boxes, so we popped our heads in the office and helped for a few minutes. Then we proceeded on our walk-about until we came across our best friend boy friends. They thought a trip to the bowling alley sounded like a better use of time that morning. We happened to be in agreement since there were no assignments due or tests that morning. I know there were no tests that day, because I wasn’t wearing my test outfit: dark blue cords, white t-shirt, older sister’s boyfriend’s blue plaid button-down, long-sleeved shirt, green Mardi Gras beads, and multi-colored sneakers (courtesy of boredom and multiple pens borrowed from classmates [with no right of return] in various classes). Some weeks I did laundry every night [not that anyone knew].
At any rate… we went to the bowling alley to play pool and hang out. I don’t bowl. I have never bowled over 100 in my life (except maybe at a birthday party when I was sub-12 and they used bumpers, but maybe not even then). Of course, now that’s like a badge of honor with me, and I do silly things to ensure I will never bowl over a hundred (like turn around three times before I roll the ball). That once cost me a second date. He was upset because I wasn’t trying. I was trying. To have fun. Because I thought that was the whole point of an activity like bowling. Unless you are a professional. Which I amn’t.
I digress. Again. We returned to school later that day (and to be honest, we may not have gone to the bowling alley after all; we may have just gone to my best friend’s house for a few hours. The Notebook would probably have the answers). Unfortunately, because we had such a great relationship with our school administrators; our presence had been noted that morning, along with our absence during the first two or three classes. Result of that great relationship with administration: DETENTION. Saturday School. Which was actually the result of a compromise because the original punishment was suspension from the annual 9th grade amusement park day. And we simply couldn’t afford to miss that.
I wonder what Dear Abby would have said of all that. Rest in Peace.