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Things To Do In Tucson When You’re Twelve

Joy and friends circa 1988
An actual photo of me (Joy) from this era.

As a child, I was a sneak. (This character flaw may or may not persist today… I’ll never tell.) I was obsessed with the forbidden but equally with keeping up good girl appearances. I did all the right things all the while plotting my next covert operation.

One Sunday in junior-high, I managed a super-mash-up of four from my “top things you’re not allowed to do” list: skipping church, lighting matches, wearing makeup, and reading Cosmopolitan.

My co-conspirator, best friend, and oh-so-positive-influence (who turned out to be quite a gal) had lifted the magazines from our mega-church’s craft supply room. The ones with tantalizing titles like “21 Ways To Drive Your Lover Wild” that we weren’t supposed to even glance at while in line at the grocery check-out.

I swiped a book of matches from a local establishment offering them instead of mints or toothpicks. It was safely tucked in next to my high-fashion Wet-N-Wild eye-shadows and lipsticks. (How did I buy these cosmetics? Covert Op Mission 12 – coming soon.) Neon colors. Sure to attract scads of boyfriends. Whom we couldn’t actually date, even if they were lured in by our chartreuse eyelids. Because we were TWELVE.

Clearly my powers of logic and knowledge of boys was lacking.

We met up in the bathroom after the first service, hanging out until the bulk of the crowd had made their way to their cars or into the main building. Coast clear, we took separate routes around the junior-high youth room where we should have been, darting through parked cars to the back of the church property and the refuge of the dry river bed there. (It was called a “wash” but you’d only know that if you were from there.)

Crouched in the dust, we colored our eyelids and lips neon rainbow. Struck matches, setting the few random twigs laying around on fire, then stomping them out. Pored over the forbidden magazines, seeking some never-before-revealed secret to popularity.

Ten minutes later, we were bored.

Even my hormone-impaired twelve-year-old mind recognized the ridiculousness.

We gathered up the contraband. Slipped back into a bathroom to wash the rainbow away. Tucked the magazines back onto their shelf.

lipstick kissThis operation only served to get matches and Cosmo out of my system, not covert ops altogether.

I moved on to my next mission: listening to pop-40 radio on a Walkman super-glued to the contemporary Christian station and mailing secret-admirer letters complete with lipstick kisses.

What memories of ridiculous childhood choices can you laugh at now?

(Linked up at the “Children” One-Word Blog Carnival.)

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