Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Party Animal?

When I was a teenager, I never attended a party that was remotely like the teen parties I see in the movies these days.  (Think, oh, Superbad or 21 Jump Street.)  In fact, growing up, I recognized that parties were not really much a part of my life.  My parents didn't let us have birthday parties with friends--just family.  (Pretty sedate.)  And I didn't attend all that many, either.  I'm not sure why.  My family was very conventionally religious, so maybe that had something to do with it?  And we also had very little money: Both parents were teachers--back in the day when a low salary meant something.  Who knows?

Occasionally, there were little parties at school.  Halloween--that sort of thing.  But nothing too memorable.

DD, doing Mexican Hat Dance
Sadie Hawkins Day, 1961
When we moved to Hiram, Ohio, I was about to enter seventh grade, and that year a whole new world of school dances emerged in my sky.  I had my first date that year.  The seventh grade dance.  We jitterbugged in the fall of 1956--and I was fairly decent at it since my mother had forced me to take dancing lessons down at Convention Hall in Enid, Oklahoma, a weekly responsibility I ranked with trips to the dentist.  And worse: I had to wear a suit and tie.  But I did learn to waltz and two-step and jitterbug.  And I felt that amazing, surprising frisson when I first touched the hand of a girl I didn't know ... a girl I wanted to know ... a girl from another school ... another galaxy ...

Besides school dances in junior high there were also social events sponsored by our church youth group--Chi Rho--very tame events that involved fruit punch and vanilla wafers and much adolescent yearning for ... for what?  I wasn't quite sure.

By high school, I was sure.  But the dances and parties at Hiram High were awfully tame (by the standards of Superbad, let's day).  Again, many of the events were sponsored by our church youth group--CYF (Christian Youth Fellowship).  We had a New Year's Eve party each year (we all went home, sober and horny, about 12:05 a.m.).  And a few other events.  We had some cast parties, too, after the school plays.  Also tame and booze-less.

I liked the parties in junior high and high school.  I especially liked it when it was our class sponsoring the event.  We got out of classes a couple of hours early to go decorate the gym--streamers from the basketball rims to the floor, tablecloths on card tables, record-player set up on the stage.  Pretty exciting stuff.  Lots of guys just sat in the bleachers and talked about (you know) and let the girls decorate.  Women's Lib was a few years away.

And both proms I attended--junior and senior year--were tame affairs as well, at least among "my" crowd.  No booze anywhere that I knew of.  And even if there had been, I would not have taken any.  I was still in the thrall of my religious upbringing (drinking was a sin--a sin, I discovered, that did not dissuade my parents, who had hidden some bottles of sherry here and there in the house; I found them--felt profoundly betrayed)--and I was an athlete (well, a Hiram athlete--there's a difference), and I thought alcohol would ruin my chances to play for the Tribe.  (Actually, what ruined my chances of playing for the Tribe was my overall suckiness.)

I went to my first alcohol-soaked party at Hiram College, fall 1966.  But let's put that one off till tomorrow.

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