People my age like to say that growing old is not for sissies. I say that, too. Every year, it seems, presents a new ache, pain or malfunction.
I have a keen memory, however, and I have to say that growing up is not for sissies either. I would never want to be a teenager again.
My worst year as a teenager, I recall, was the first - age 13. Still a child at heart but quickly becoming an adult, a 13-year-old has to negotiate two worlds. He or she is too old to be a child but too young to be an adult. I felt betwixt and between because at 13 I was as large as many 18-year-olds.
Self-esteem is a problem for many teenagers but my self-esteem issues were exacerbated by my height and weight - both above average. How heavy was I? Well, I couldn't wear the lean Levi jeans that were the rage in 1961. I wore full cut "carpenter" jeans with a pliers pocket and a hammer loop. The jeans were like a sign that read, "Doofus!"
Self-esteem; it would have been nice.
I turned 13 in seventh grade. It was a small school - about a dozen in our class. We shared a room with the sixth grade which must have had about the same number of students. We went to other classrooms for science and music, but the rest of our classes were in this room.
Our teacher, a fleshy woman, as they might have said back then, had "bat wings" hanging from her arms and they flapped when she wrote on the blackboard. I realize now there was absolutely nothing funny about this but it doesn't take much to tickle a 13-year-old doofus.
The flaccid wings masked incredible strength in her arms. While visiting across the aisle with a friend one day our teacher reached out and touched me in a slapping sort of way that made my head fly back. Actually, my friend was talking to me but I took the slap.
Our teacher was an equal opportunity slapper, however. A week or so later I was talking to my buddy and the teacher slapped him. His head flew back, too.
Speaking of my buddy, he had taken up the habit of chewing tobacco in seventh grade. Early in the year he was still sitting at the back of the room so he could spit the tobacco juice behind the radiator.
Our teacher apparently had detected his "habit" and kept a close eye on him so he couldn't spit. On this particular day he raised his hand to request permission to go to the restroom. She denied his request. Forced to swallow the tobacco juice my friend quickly became ill. A short time later he made a mad dash for the door to keep the rest of us from having to witness emesis (which simply means vomiting but it I used the word so it would appear that I actually learned something in school.)
Very soon thereafter my friend was moved next to me at the front of the room where we both were eventually subjected to painful corporal punishment.
Age 13 is when your hormones begin to kick in and you are attracted in new and exciting ways to persons of the opposite gender. Our female classmates were budding out in new and exciting ways which resulted in the boys' hormones kicking even harder. Concentration was difficult.
At the same time, a 13-year-old boy can be extremely bashful around a 13-year-old girl. So a 13-year-old boy has this appalling predicament of wanting like everything to be closer to these budding young maidens but at the same time not having the courage to get closer. Had one of them actually got closer, I might have committed emesis.
I tell you, being 13 was difficult. Tougher guys than me would have said it was hell, but if you said hell in school back then you caught it. We got by with the good old "h-e-double-toothpicks" euphemism.
There were a lot of words we couldn't use in seventh grade in 1961 that are commonly used by 13-year-olds today, hell being the least offensive.
Nope, I never want to be 13-years-old again. It was well, it was h-e-double-toothpicks.