It was Secret Drawer Week on Triple J brekkie this week. I loved it! People called in every day with tales of letters, poems and other touching testaments to teenage love dug out of drawers, shoeboxes, and the deepest hidden crevices of their hearts. Sometimes they were the crusher, other times the crushee, but they all had fond (eventually – after varying periods of acute embarrassment and/or abject humiliation) memories of a time in their lives characterised by raging hormones, lots of angst, confusion and so much awkwardness. The stories gave me the warm fuzzies and induced horrified cringes in nearly equal measure.
Even though those romantic gestures were awkward, embarrassing, and quite often without the desired result, the objects of those affections still remembered them years or decades later. In some cases even kept them! After Alex (one of the presenters) read out the rough copy of a beautiful poem he wrote for his Year 10 crush, she called in to say she still had it. When Matt commented it must have meant a lot to her, she answered “How could it not?”
I admire people who own their feelings, and don’t feel compelled to hide them away. Because let’s face it; expressing your true self, especially in high school surrounded by emotionally stunted teenagers, leaves you open to being labelled ’emo’ and ‘a freak’ and having shit piled on you by immature arseholes. Which is like SOO unfair since your high school years were probably the most insanely emotional of your entire life. Well except maybe for when you were two and would throw a fit because you finished the biscuits or because a fly landed near you or because your dad stuck a moustache on your face.
So what’s in my secret drawer?
Well remember how I’m supposed to be trolling through my teenage diary for a bit of a laugh? My last post on that subject was over two years ago. I was going to get around to it, it’s not like I was avoiding it or anything…
So – The Journal Continues… having jumped suddenly from June 1987 to May 1988.
We woke up at six this morning and had breakfast and went home and played tennis (at 9 at the tennis club) and came home had lunch went to ‘C’ the Tropical Festival float parade at 5 with the Staggs and went to the fair and went on the COBRA! an absolute scream!!! EEEEEAAAGGHHHH!!!!! We thought we almost hit the tent and it woz scary. On Sunday we went 2 see the fireworks with the Leahys. I saw Shannon and David there and went 4 a walk with them. Suddenly the lights went out so we sat down and enjoyed the fireworks. IT WOZ NEAT!!
I was reading this to myself thinking come on Michelle, you know as well as I do that you were madly crushing on one of those lads and you were totally stoked to be sitting next to him in the dark! You never told anyone, and you wouldn’t even admit it in your own diary.
Me Then: Well be fair, one of my best friends was going crazy about him herself at the time. There was the chance someone might read it and blow my cover. I was being cautious.
Me Now: So that was then. Let it go. …Goddammit, now I have that song in my head.
Me Then: Let’s call him Darcy. A romantic figure – everyone has a Darcy.
Me Now: But you weren’t Elizabeth. You were Mary. The socially inept book nerd. Just use his name why don’t you!
Me Then: But then people will know.
Me Now: Who gives a shit? It was 25 years ago, you are happily married, and living on the other side of the country!
Me Then: But why do I need to talk about that stuff anyway? You already said no one gives a shit. Why bore them with it?
Me Now: It’s the principle of the thing. You want to be a writer. I think that means being honest even if you think it’s embarrassing. It might be excruciating but it’ll also be good for you. Come on it’ll be fun.
Me Then: What the hell has something from over 25 years ago got to do with my writing today?
Me Now: Because it’s actually expressing something personal for once. It’s no big deal. It’s good practice and who knows might be cathartic.
Me Then: You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about do you?
Me Now: Nup.
Me Then: Why is this such a huge deal? I reveal personal stuff! What about when I farted on my ballet instructor? I ‘fessed up to that.
Me Now: Come on now. Be honest – you’re actually quite proud of that story.
Me Then: Well…yeah…I kinda am. But it’s not like I do a song and dance about it.
Me Now: So ‘fess up properly, and stop being such a wuss!
Me Then: It’s not like I’m revealing some dark awful secret from my past. This was my first crush, not some traumatic scarring experience. Well…aside from the years of fruitless yearning and baseless optimism, reading waaay too much into things, and ultimately getting rejected. It was fine.
Me Now: It’s because of how you dealt with it: Suppressed it, denied it, ridiculed yourself over it. Which is possibly why now you still clam up and feel embarrassed about having feelings. NEWSFLASH: you are not, in fact, a robot. You need more practise with the touchy feels.
Me Now: OH FOR FECK’S SAKE. That’s your role model?
Me Then: No! I mean…*petulant eye roll* okay fine!! But I don’t like this. I’ll regret it.
Me Now: No you won’t. It’s no big deal. Honestly, no one gives a shit.
I want to be a writer, yet I don’t like getting personal. Will this be a problem?
The best writers seem to have no fear. They write with searing, cringe-inducing, sometimes hilarious but also endearing honesty about many subjects, even those considered taboo. Like rejection. Getting older. Rage. Parental guilt. Depression. Losing a child. Those are the writers I admire the most because their honesty helps others realise they’re not alone.
So, anyway, enough procrastinating; Shannon was the lad in question. The first guy I ever crushed on – well, aside from MacGyver… and apparently neither relationship would have a basis in the real world. I did eventually come out and declare my feelings but in a mousy, pussy kind of way, by sending him a Valentine’s Day card (anonymously) and months later phoning to ask him to our Year 12 formal. He was nice about it. But said no. And that was that.
Okay your turn! What do you have in your secret drawers?
Well that sounded a bit pervy. But you know what I mean! Did you write someone a love letter? Or even better, a poem? Was it good? Did it suck? Did you get married and live happily ever after? Or get shot down in a blaze of humiliation and spend the remainder of your school years wearing kohl eyeliner and listening to The Cure? I wanna know! I mean, you should totes tell me girlfriend,
I’ll you’ll feel so much better!