I used to think it a blessing that I grew up in The Olden Days when my stupidest moments in high school weren’t broadcast through social media. The grapevine probably enjoyed a few laughs at my expense, but without social media, it soon died down. Recently, I had that forehead-slapping DUH moment when I realized that my high school blunders were recorded, but not through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They were published in the column I wrote for the local newspaper.
My teenage writing career had been jumpstarted by llamas, then gained momentum when I was given my own column. I moved onto more eloquent subjects, like how I revealed the name of my current high school crush in my meatloaf and the disastrous day I had to wear a pair of home-made red bibs to school. They were my sewing project for Home Economics and to get a grade, I had to wear them to school.
I’d spent weeks sewing on this crazy red corduroy trying to make them fit like the Lee Bib Overalls that were in style. The day was a miserable disaster, but it gave me column fodder. Since I earned $2.30 an hour, Carter had raised minimum wage to $3.35 but word hadn’t reached North Dakota yet, I probably made $2.30 on this column.
I’m not embarrassed about having my high school experiences in print, I’m embarrassed that the editor with the college degree didn’t edit my work, but the typesetter who barely earned her high school diploma did. Some of the mistakes honestly were mine, some were added by an overzealous typesetter. I’d hear her long nails clicking away at the keyboard, clicking her tongue in unison when she found a mistake, then she’d rewrite my words as she typed, adding commas and changing tenses. I would only be saved if one of the women doing layout would catch her corrections and send the column back. Sometimes I would work late and type up my own work to avoid her help.
I still burn toast and have sewing ambitions that exceed my abilities, but there’s hope for my writing. I have learned the value of getting my work properly edited.
Some people bring up those embarrassing high school moments on social media decades later after the grapevine has definitely died.