1980's, preteen angst, reno

White Lines – The First Line

The Slippery Slope Theory postulates that an unassuming action or event inevitably leads to a chain of related events culminating into some significant impact, particularly one of the shitty kind. It’s a lot like this Laurel & Hardy movie I saw where this little pebble got loose at the top of a mountain and turned into a monster rock avalanche almost destroying everything in its path on its way to the bottom.

This is the story of how I tripped and fell right into a huge pile of white powder.

“Debbie is… big,” Mom replied after I enthusiastically asked her what she thought of my new friend.

That’s not exactly what I meant by thought when I asked. I was hoping for “smart,” or “sweet,” or perhaps “nifty,” but most definitely not “big.” “Big” is how one describes a sofa or perhaps a T-Rex, but not a human. At least, that is, if you’re me.

I liked Debbie. We met in Mr. Loman’s sixth grade class. She had pimples and boobs and was approximately six-feet-tall. Yes, she probably could’ve been a linebacker, but I saw in her less football player and more puppy who hadn’t grown into her feet yet. She was like a Chihuahua trapped in a St. Bernard’s body. Puberty was not kind to poor Debbie.

So, of course, I liked her immediately.

I added her to my awkward friend collection the second her huge frame appeared in the sixth grade doorframe, shadowing most of the classroom like Godzilla. Mr. Loman lifted the needle off the class record player, (which is how we hit pause in the 80’s), as we’d been listening to his favorite Beatles song, “Revolution 9.”

“This must be Debbie, our new student who just moved here from Michigan. The painted turtle is Michigan’s state reptile,” and with that, he went right back into “Revolution 9,” as he believed it to have all of the answers to all of the questions of all of the worlds. Every time the number nine came up in conversation, he would repeat, “number nine, number nine, number nine,” about 25 times. Some would consider this annoying; I, on the other hand, believed him to be possibly the coolest human ever. Let’s just say I had an affinity for eclectic types.

Mr. Loman also wouldn’t put up with bullying the classroom so even though most of my bullies were in class with me this year, I was safe during classroom hours. It was actually hilarious to see Tammy get so busted bullying me that she never even looked at me during class for the rest of the year.

Debbie arranged herself into the empty desk kitty-corner from me. She unpacked the contents of her tattered gray backpack into her new desk. She seemed nervous. It was right in the middle of the school year, so I assumed her parents were probably given the same parenting handbook mine were. I think these handbooks were most likely given out wherever alcoholic beverages were being served.

Marie and I shared a secret eyeball moment to confirm Debbie’s acceptance for membership to our underground network of transplants. Our underground was so underground that we didn’t even know we had an underground.

Here’s the new kid chronology since the fourth grade:

  1. Marie = new kid. Weirdo. All alone. Boo.
  2. Marie + Courtney = two. Better. Two is better than one.
  3. Courtney + Marie + Debbie = three. The triumvirate of cool, so cool there must be laser beams and stuff.

It was entirely apropos that The Beatles were playing as she entered, because this, my friends, was destiny.

Note: There was no hierarchy in our movement. Actually, the new kid was the most important because the new kid brought power. Power in numbers. The more of us, the less we’d get bullied. At least in theory. I would later name this the “Bullshit Theory” or “Courtney’s a Delusional Freak Theory,” although the latter is much more fact than theory, but please don’t pull me aside and tell me so because I will vehemently oppose said fact as merely speculation and words may be exchanged. Consider yourself warned.

Nothing spells awkward more than getting stuck in a group of humans who’ve shared history that was B.C. (before Courtney). How many times can one retort, “oh yeah, I’m sure that was really funny, especially if I was actually there?” This later led to my obsession with never missing any event ever, lest something totally awesome happened that I missed that would be recalled at a later time.

My fellow members of the network had also experienced the Waldo-Von-Duchenheimer feeling of getting stuck in a circle jerk of kids sharing memories from when Billy farted in first grade or the memorable second grade field trip to the planetarium. We knew what it was to be uprooted. To have no history. To these kids, we were nothing more than evaporated vapor from Billy’s long lost fart before we appeared on their rearview.

We all ran to something to quell the pain of being outcasts. We sought solace together masked as “hanging out.” Marie and I had Duran Duran. Eve and I had porn and Kools.

And Debbie and I had sugar.

1980's, preteen angst, reno

Schoolhouse Porn! Vlog

I was so inspired by Channel 3 and my memories of MTV in the early-80’s, that I made a mix tape. You should follow it and listen to it while rereading all parts of Schoolhouse Porn! But who am I to tell you what to do? I’m from Reno.

I listened to the mix tape 398 times, but it wasn’t enough. So I spent $4.99 on the iMovie app, put on a ton of make-up and made a music video all on my iPhone. Voila!

PS. I’m really sorry about the singing part…

1980's, reno, smoking

Schoolhouse Porn! The Last Channel.

If you’re behind,  click here for Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 1click here for Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 2 and click here for Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 3.  Or not. This is the part with actual porn.

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There was a bed with an ugly flowered comforter, the kind sewn with fishing line instead of thread, facing a dresser with a huge mirror on it. We sat on the bed and I noticed that we were staring at ourselves, which led immediately to bouncing. We bounced for about ten minutes, making funny faces in the mirror all the while. What a cool idea to have a mirror in front of your bed! Why hadn’t I ever thought of that before?

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Panting, we collapsed onto the bed. Perfect time to smoke! Eve pulled a Kool out of what looked like a wallet made especially just for cigarettes with a special pocket just for the lighter and then handed it to me. I decided if I ever take up smoking full-time I was going to get me one of those. We lit up. She put a big gold ashtray with a heavily patterned beanbag on the bottom of it for stability between us. We smoked and panted for a bit.

Then, as if a treasure trove, Eve showed me an entire wall of VHS tapes.

“Do you want to pick or me?” She was grinning like a mysterious motherfucker.

“You pick,” I said, not realizing that it didn’t really matter which of these fine films we watched, because they were all ended exactly the same.

She slid the black tape into the black VCR, turned the TV to Channel three, and then bounced back on the bed, spraying ashes and butts everywhere. She was really excited to share.

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The movie opened in a diner, where some truck drivers started telling the owner a mysterious story about a door. Uh, okay. Lame. How can a movie about a door be exciting? Then it flashed back to this pretty woman with brown hair being put on a stage and then being kissed and touched by a whole bunch of other women. Ummmm girls didn’t do that to each other on The Love Boat! I was intrigued and embarrassed, but Eve seemed like this was totally normal, so I pretended like it was something I watched all the time.

The girls had huge hair pies. Even far-too-young-to-be-watching-porn-me was fully aware that a razor or ten would be in order. Then the music got all crazy, kind of like the Schoolhouse Rock! music, only funkier, when this black guy came in. He took off his clothes and OH MY GOD! Conjunction junction, so that’s your function!

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So there it was, in-and-out, upside down and all around – we were watching porn. And not just porn, the best porn ever made. Eve and I smoked Kools and watched Deep Throat, Debbie Does Dallas, and The Devil in Miss Jones, to name a few. They were fascinating. I loved the stories and the sex scenes. I was fully aware I was doing something wrong, which made me want to do it even more.

When Eve’s mom and mom’s boyfriend worked swing shift, I went home after school with her. On the non-Eve days, I went to Marie’s house with similar intention. I saw little difference between watching Duran Duran and porn, after all they made me feel the same downstairs.

The only difference was I didn’t get to smoke at Marie’s house.

. . .

I made a Spotify playlist for Schoolhouse Porn! I can’t stop listening to it! Come over and have a listen.

1980's, reno, smoking

Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 3.

Not that porn needs to be chronological, but click here for Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 1 and click here for Schoolhouse Porn! Channel 2. Or not. I have no say over how others take their porn. You could be scrolling with your toes right now for all I care. I get it. We all have our – eccentricities.

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Adam Curry appeared on the screen next, his hair more feathered than necessary even for 1983. He introduced what he referred to as a “music video” by Duran Duran.

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The images that appeared on the TV screen were in a completely different league than The Love Boat and Three’s Company. My entire body tingled. I probably blushed. The five guys on the bough of a sailboat singing about some girl named Rio were by far more tantalizing than Mr. Furley. I needed more, immediately. I needed to come over every day after school until the end of time and maybe, just maybe, my desire for men wearing more make-up than most women would be satiated.

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Back when she was chubby.

 

Five hours of Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Duran Duran later, Marie’s mom drove me home.

I don’t know how I even slept that night as my world had been changed forever.

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And he was black.

I went over to Marie’s house every single day from that day on well into 1984. Marie and I were official Duranies. My guy was Nick Rhodes, the keyboardist, and Marie was a Simon Le Bon fan. We would sit two inches from the screen when our boys came on the screen. We spent our allowances on Tiger Beat Magazines and pinned up pictures of our guys all over our rooms. We lived, ate, and breathed Nick and Simon.

That is, until Eve invited me over.

In 1984, only rich people had VCR’s. They were, like, a thousand dollars. Ironically, that’s how Eve seduced me to her apartment after school. She was the poorest kid I knew, so go figure that she was the only person I knew who had a VCR. I’d never even seen one before.

The school bell rang and we ran across the street to her Section 8 apartments. She pulled a shoestring that at one time in its life was white, although hard to believe, with two keys dangling from it from out of her sweatshirt mono-pocket.

“I’m supposed to wear it around my neck, but I don’t,” Eve claimed, with rebel chic. She was a true latchkey kid.

She unlocked the top and bottom locks and we entered her mostly-gray apartment. The smell of Kool cigarettes intermingled with sex filled my senses. Of course, at that time in my life, I only actually recognized the smell of Kools.

“My parent’s work swing-shift so they won’t be home ‘til two-thirty,” Eve said as she jimmied the lock on their bedroom door.

Her mom and mom’s boyfriend were dealers, and by dealer I mean card dealer, not drug dealer, although it wouldn’t have been much of a surprise if they were the latter as well. After all, how the hell did they afford a VCR? The kids with casino worker parents were usually left unsupervised due to the largely nighttime schedules, and therefore made really good friends to have.

The gold Master lock popped open. I wondered why anyone’s parents would lock their bedroom door, but that question was quickly answered. The gray door slid across the carpet-is-too-high-or-the-door-is-too-low tracks from obvious well-thought out craftsmanship that goes into section 8 housing. It made a thick swooshing sound.

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Tune in on Monday to see what’s behind the poorly manufactured door! What could it be? Why on earth did Eve’s parents lock their bedroom door? All of these questions AND MORE will be answered! Will you dare to read on?

 

 

reno, smoking

Seeing Sparks, Fin

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Want to binge read the whole series? No problem. For Part 1, click here. For Part Deux, click here. For Part Trois, click here.

“Where are you going?” Eve yelled as I ran. She was brave. She was also left alone by bullies, probably due to the fact that they’d have to get within smelling range to appropriately intimidate her.

“I, uh, I forgot I told my mom I’d be home right after school today!” I lied as I sprinted toward the crosswalk.

Once I reached the street corner, I pressed the crosswalk button about 400 times in a matter of five seconds. Unfortunately, my fixed attention on said crosswalk button distracted me so I completely failed to notice who was on the other side of the street and about to head my way. Yep. Not one, not two, but all three of my new bullies. And they had not only already spotted me in their territory, but they were already laughing at me.

“Hey Egghead! Did you get lost? Are you running home to Mommy?” They intermittently barked at me between peals of laughter.

Then in perfect fashion, the glowing white walking man suddenly and almost mockingly appeared in the crosswalk box. This was markedly the first of many times that the man I’d longed for so desperately finally showed up – at the entirely wrong time. I didn’t know what to do. I was frozen. Just then, Eve caught up with me and grabbed my arm.

“Just walk. Don’t look at them.” She coached me under her breath.

“Oh look at the lesbian lovers! Eve and Courtney sitting in a tree, K I S S I N G…” They continued taunting us as we met in the middle of the crosswalk. At least I knew we couldn’t be there forever. Eventually the light would turn green, right? Or maybe a semi would magically run the red light and tragically (and hopefully quickly) squash me like a bug? Should I be so lucky.

Because of all of the excitement of the day, my guard was down, so much so that the fancy dodging-bullies footwork I’d honed over the past few hellish months was thrown out the window. Tammy pulled her signature move and stuck one hefty freckled leg out in my direct line of travel, sending me crashing to the ground. One knee, then both, met with the black asphalt, tearing my corduroys and leaving small black granules in my bloodied skin. Next to hit was my chin, which caused a domino reaction, slamming my jaw shut which in turn clamped right down onto my tongue.

I don’t know why and I wish it wasn’t so, but these moments are always in slow motion. It’s like the moments that suck so bad you wish they’d go by super fast tend to go at the pace of molasses. A minute becomes like 800 years. That’s just an estimate, but I think I’m pretty close.

At a slug’s speed, not one, but both packs of cigarettes flew out of my little purse onto the street. This was the defining moment. It would all be worthwhile – the blood, the bruises, the years of therapy to come – if these smokes would’ve incited a fear in my bullies like no other. A trembling. An understanding of how truly psycho the little girl they tormented every day was and the lengths she would go to prove as much.

Tammy, Lisa, and Gina, who were already laughing hysterically, started howling at a decibel which only rivaled Def Leppard.

“Oh my name’s Egghead, I’m a smoker now. I’m so retarded!” The choir of doom sang through their laughter.

“You think you’re tough now? We’ll show you tough tomorrow when we kick your ass!” They bellowed. Perfect, now I had something to look forward to at least.

The light turned green as we piled the intestines of my purse back in its little body. When it couldn’t get any more humiliating, the honking began. Sparks was a cruel city. No pausing for downed weirdos. I prayed they would just put me out of my misery and run me over. Just make it fast. Knowing my luck that would be in slow fucking motion too.

Eve picked up the pieces and got me safely across the street. My knees, chin, and tongue were bleeding, snot was dripping out of my nose and I was sobbing. A car of teenage boys slowed down to stare as they drove by. Through my tears a blurry bumper sticker came into focus which read, “Reno is so close to hell you can see Sparks.”

reno

You’re From Where?

renoI didn’t smoke a cigarette at 9-years-old hoping that by 14 I’d be screwing a drug dealer for cocaine on his waterbed with my best friend watching. This was not a place I went to with rationale or intention. Just like moving to Reno.

Reno started out as a quick fix and ended up in permanent residency. It was like a pile of dog crap I accidentally stepped in that got stuck in all the intricate treads of my new hiking boots. Scrub with a toothbrush as I may, the specs of brown were never coming out.

This was not my master plan.

I know I should’ve listened to Nancy Reagan and “just said no,” but this series of essays should prove that after your parents move you to Reno, you’re left with very slender options.

Reno is a gateway drug.