September 8, 2010

Guest Post: How a Pair of Candies Ruined High School by Jennifer Solow

I have adored getting to know Jennifer over the past few weeks. She has so much genuine enthusiasm for writing, reading and of course, The Atristobrats. When I found out that she went to prep school I knew she was a kindred spirit. See, I always wanted to go to prep school (and I wanted to board there). I had a very dog eared copy of The Official Preppy Handbook (more on that later this week). But, I was a girl from a small town in Montana. Preppiness? Not me, at all. So, when I read Jennifer's guest post on how she dressed wrong for a school dance I fell a little bit more in love with her.

Without further ado:
How a Pair of Candies Ruined High School
Jennifer Solow


Maybe truly understanding how to dress and act preppy is something that runs in your blood? Maybe, like a silver spoon, you’re either born with it in your mouth or your not. I was not.

I went to a prep school, I was friends with total prepsicles, I shopped at some of the same stores, but I never truly got it – this preppy clothing thing eluded me. I was pretty good at faking it, but cheap imitation Fair Isle sweaters only got so far. You cannot, hear this, fake real cashmere.

This worked out pretty fine at school because we wore uniforms. There was not a ton of breathing room in terms of choices. I passed for a prepster without suspicion. But school dances? A different story entirely.

So it was Saturday night. A Shadyside Academy dance. Life couldn’t have gotten much better. My best friend, Sharon, and I had spent hours getting ready. The blow dryers! The eye shadow! The pages of Seventeen Magazine torn out for inspiration! The…Candies? It was the days of disco, Donna Summer and that Brook Shields Calvin Klein ad (“Nothing gets between me and my Calvins…”). Sharon and I had decided that while neither of us owned Calvins, we did own Gloria Vanderbilts. Also, having just appeared in the school play, A Chorus Line, we owned matching Lurex, a.k.a. “sparkly”, wraparound leotards. And, of course, high-heeled Candies. Our outfits, along with our excellent renditions of the Farrah (me) and Dorothy Hamill (Sharon) hairdo, incited one of those “You’re wearing that?” from my mother. But I saw that as a good thing.

Sharon and I were feeling all tingly as we arrived at Shadyside Academy. We knew we were making a statement with our, how do I put this politely… “gently slutty” attire, but we were willing to “be ourselves!” “put ourselves out there!” “cause a ruckus!” In our mind’s eye, the evening was the beginning of the rest of our lives. Can you already see how this story ends?

When we arrived, every girl in the room was wearing her (cashmere) Fair Isle sweater, her L.L. Bean blucher mochs, her straggly long hair held back by a ribbon headband and the baggiest, most patched-up jeans imaginable (looking skillfully “tattered” is apparently one of these preppy things I didn’t get). Every boy was standing on the other side of the gym, the hormonal cloud of guy-befuddlement hovering over their heads.

I could feel the eyes on us. Every ounce of confidence we had felt while blow drying and blotting lipstick had dwindled away into a pronounced desire to be anywhere but the Shadyside Academy dance. In a single moment, Sharon and I had become pariahs. The girls hated us and the boys thought we were bizarre Lesbians from another planet. So much for that.

But then as confirmed pariahs, we didn’t mind being the only ones on the dance floor: Candies, hairdos, Gloria Vanderbilts, shiny leotards and all. What did we have to lose? Line dancing to Donna Summer’s Last Dance seemed apropos. We were going to go out with a bang…and The Hustle.

Thanks Jennifer! Good luck with the book. I look forward to more books about Parker and her friends.

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