Things were going along smoothly until I hit age fifteen. Up until then, my biggest crises had been getting boobs in the fifth grade and the fact that while a boy named Adam R. was hopelessly in love with me, I was the victim of an unrequited crush on Jeff O., who in fact had a thing for Roxanne R., the prettiest girl in class. (Isn’t that the way it always is?) Jeff had broken my heart by roller skating all night with Roxanne on a class outing; I listened to the '45 of “We Belong” by Pat Benatar incessantly for months. But really, my teenage attitude didn’t come in to full bloom until the summer when my mother refused to let me go see the Grateful Dead in concert.
She was being totally unreasonable, of course. What’s the worst that could happen to a fifteen-year-old girl alone at a Dead concert? My mother, the smart aleck, was quick with an answer: What if I was fed a tab of LSD without my knowledge, got raped, then had my throat slashed, and Mom would be woken up in the middle of the night by the cops to go down to the morgue to identify my body?…it was all about her. I didn’t speak to her for a month.
Mom was always telling me I couldn’t do things. Going to parties where there would be no parents but plenty of alcohol was out of the question. Going away for the weekend with my friend Lisa and her friends Rob, Guy, and Steve was definitely forbidden. She wouldn’t even let me go shopping downtown at the store where all the hippies went without her there to embarrass me by asking if the neat-looking glass tubes they had there were some sort of fancy lamps. (But really, I was a good kid, for the most part – I didn’t know they were bongs either. I kind of thought Mom was right on target with her lamp theory.)
As I got older, it was time to look at colleges. Mom arranged a trip for us to take a train cross-country to combine a vacation with looking at schools. We got to see the Grand Canyon and the coast of Malibu. She and I drove to UCLA, where I refused to get out of the car because the guy who handed us the ticket to park in the south lot had a real “attitude problem”.
My mother, who had just carted me 2,894 miles to the college I had been talking about going to since I was eleven, implied that it was not the guy in the ticket booth who had the attitude problem. She was at the end of her rope, she said. After all, it was not she who had wanted to take the side trip to see the house where Sharon Tate was murdered, but she’d acquiesced without an attitude, hadn’t she? I needed to get my skinny butt and my gigantic attitude out of the car RIGHT NOW or she would show me an attitude problem. It was the first time I’d ever seen flames literally shoot out of her eyes. I took the UCLA campus tour.
In all fairness, I never came home pregnant nor on drugs, and my parents never got a call from the cops saying I’d been arrested. However, as I said, I do remember being a teenager, and I can tell you this: it was not fun for any of us involved.
PS - Mom, thanks for taking me to see UCLA and for the drive-by of the Manson Murder House. Very cool.