fifth of grade

Semester one, Riverside CA. Cool fashion trends included, but sadly were not limited to, spiked hair, suspenders worn in a low-functioning manner, and Reebok hi-tops left untied. Enter out of cultural touch missionary kid.

I’m a form follows function kind of person so a lot of fashion is lost on me. It’s why I have to go out and buy a shirt and tie anytime there’s a wedding. Ties don’t make sense to me. (Which is why I always get to weddings early so that I can find someone who knows how to tie it for me.) As soon as the wedding’s over it’s off to Goodwill. Luckily I haven’t had to be visible in a wedding for quite some time €“ and last one I was in didn’t require ties. I was in the wedding party with jeans and teva’s. Thank you Erin and Jason.

Anyways €“ I was this way in fifth grade as well. I had been in the states for a month or so and had discovered macgyver and cherry coke and was a pretty happy kid. But at the same time I wanted desperately to fit in. So I got a haircut. But I thought the spike thing was kind of froofy looking and so when we got to fantastic sam’s or whatever it was I chickened out. I wasn’t convinced that a strange lady with sharp objects giving me a goofy froofy haircut was a good idea. The next day I went to a barber shop and got a flat top. It’s like a spike but tough. And the guy who gave it to me was a barber not a stylist. It’s how I roll.

Then I bought pants with suspenders. I like them. They were the button on kind not the clip on kind. They made me feel like a mountain man. All I needed was a red union suit and I would’ve been right out of a Louis L’amour book. (Which was a bit of a goal for me at the time, I was way into the Sacket series. And again I remind you, Missionary Kid.) The only thing I couldn’t understand about suspenders as cool as these was why anyone would let them hang down. So I wore them up on my shoulders and allowed them to fulfill their suspending destiny.

I didn’t dig Reeboks. They were heavy and created a false expectation that I would be good at sports. Not a road I was ready to go down. (Then or now.) The skater’s wore vans and those were cool. But kind of flashy. Some kids were wearing chuck taylors €“ generally in bright colors like turquoise with yellow on the inside. Then they’d lace them halfway up and let the tongue hang out so you could see they were yellow on the inside. I went with black. Dress ’em down on the playground, dress ’em up for church. A wonderfully utilitarian shoe. In fact 20 some years later and I wore a pair to church last Sunday. A timeless classic.

So I was ready for my first day of school back in the US of A. Somewhere there’s a picture of me standing outside our apartment. Black converse high tops, laced all the way up. Gray pants with suspenders. The pants aren’t tight rolled, the suspenders are over my shoulders. And where any other cool kid at the time would’ve been sporting hair spiked with LA Style Mousse; there I was with a flat top held high with butch wax. And I won’t even try to explain the construction worker-esque black lunch box I was carrying when every other boy my age was carrying around a GI Joe lunch box.

Goodbye Don Johnson. Hello Beave. Welcome to America.


4 Months later I was back in Monrovia Liberia teaching the other missionary kids how to tight roll their guess jeans, encouraging them to wear pink shirts, and giving tips on proper mousse application. What are we the Borg? Assimilate!


Posted: March 17th, 2008
Categories: edumacation
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