Enumeration: The 6 Colors of Eighth Grade
* I recently helped with a writing workshop for local eighth grade students, who have been working on creative non-fiction pieces, including enumerations. I wrote this piece as an example for them. Names of all people except the celebrities have been changed.
Scorch: Scorch is approximately 87% of the things that my friend Sharon and I incinerated in the ovens of our kitchen cubicle in Mrs. Kristoph's Home Ec class. When Mrs. Kristoph slid a cookie tray out of the hot oven, stained potholders dwarfing her tiny hands, she penguined to the stainless steel island separating the kitchens from the sewing machine tables chirping “Hot stuff, hot stuff, hot stuff.” It’s what I think, but don’t say, every time I pull a baking pan from the oven.
Cherry: Cherry is my first pair of Vans, their black and white checkered sidewalls broadcasting their California skater vibe. Soles squeaking down the hallway, we flaunted our counterculture fashion while dressed exactly like everyone else. I could look like one of the popular girls, even if I couldn’t be one.
Rainbow: Rainbow is spin the bottle at Rachel Smith's house while her father, a cop who works the night shift, is out on patrol. Rainbows would unfurl behind unicorns drifting through sparkly clouds if Tyson Armstrong's bottle selected me, but instead it was up to Skip Ledbetter to deliver my first kiss. No technicolor fireworks–just a pervasive sense of forgetting how to breathe.
Slate: Slate is 45s spinning on the turntable. “Don’t you want me baby?” the Human League asks. “Nah, we’re worlds apart,” Journey answers. “You can’t hurry love,” Phil Collins cautions. But we don’t want to wait–we crave that achy devotion, acutely aware of every breath taken by someone we hardly know but find intriguing. Thirty years later, belting out “Total Eclipse of the Heart” with the other moms on the Little Star Montessori School auction committee launches me straight back into the junior high gym, couples pressed close together, thankful for every second of Bonnie Tyler’s epic 7-minute version of the song.
Brown-and-Gold: Brown-and-gold is our cheerleader uniforms. Whoever selected our school colors clearly never held focus groups with teens–or with anyone with functioning cones and rods in their eyeballs, for that matter. But we were out to get a V-I-C-T-O-R-Y, so we wriggled into those brown-and-gold sweaters and spent our Thursday evenings with our pom-poms and school spirit, bouncing on the sidelines instead of claiming a spot on the field. L-E-T-S-G-O Let’s go, let’s go.
Blonde: Blonde is the results Sun-In promises but fails to deliver. If you’re already blonde, Sun-In and a few hours searing yourself on someone’s porch makes your hair shimmer. If you’re not, Sun-In turns it orange, although the fine print on the bottle deems it “copper.” Blonde is Blair Warner on “The Facts of Life.” Blonde is “The Love Boat’s” Julie McCoy. Blonde is Mikey Schmidt, 13 like the rest of us, but headed to college the next fall, while we march toward ninth grade and the last few years of our blessedly normal childhoods.