Aw Jeez!! It’s A….

slambook11.jpg

I saw one of these recently and it blew me away. I hadn’t seen, much less thought of a slambook in 36 years.

Cheryl, remember these?????

They were huge during my seventh grade year.

They were anonymous ways to feed your ego or completely deflate it. More on that in a minute.

It was never made clear who initiated the slambook, wrote the questions on it’s pages or put it out in circulation. But you could get an idea based on the tone of the questions, how leading they were, who they focused on and of course, if it was a small enough class…and every class was within the Karnes City Independent School District, you could recognize the handwriting.

But not Laurie Kendrick’s slam books. I had my older sister Karol write do all the writing. Completely confounded the bastards, I did.

Speaking of Karol, hers was the very first slambook I ever laid eyes on. It was back in the late 1960’s and apparently, it was the hit of that year’s eighth grade class of Karnes City Junior High. I distinctly remember the first question and answer. It was, “What books do you like to read?” One of Karol’s classmates. the always hip R.C. Cooper signed in and replied, “chick’s books”.

Groovy.

Slambooks in my day were plain spiral notebooks. The first page was a numbered name page. You could put your name, your initials or to be mysterious, and place a fake name by a particular number and that number represented you throughout the book.

For example:

I could decide to place my name by…oh let’s say…..number 29 (not surprised by that, are you Cher??) and I would put any name by it–real or fake. I would use something like, “Fetid Navel Mayonnaise”. Then, I’d go through the book and answer the questions as number 29. The reader would read my answers and have a reference as to who I was back on the first page.

As for the questions? They could be generic or very specific and even lean toward being mean. Vicious, really.

Classic slambook pages looked a lot like this:

slam-book2-002.jpg

You get the idea.

They questions and answers were fairly revealing, sometimes funny. Always controversial by Junior High standards and actually, quite damaging. One perceived negative comment, read on a bad day could inflict an incredible amount of harm to a young kid with hormones swirling inside him or her.

Every slambook I ever started was always confiscated by Mrs. Gibbons, the Junior High Counselor. I resented it at the time because I had just paid 50-cents at the City Pharmacy for that spiral notebook. But now, I realize her actions were probably a preemptive strike to spare some walking Clearasil commercial a case of serious pre-teen angst.

Kids are cruel. We certainly could be.

Back then, I never thought about “hurt feelings” unless they were mine. I think today, the kids have raised cruel to a new level. Anonymity is easier because slambooks in the new millennium are found on the computer and there are a million of them out there.

I think about who and what I was in Junior High and High School and I cringe. Junior High was great, but high school? Emotionally, I can compare it to living in the squalid slums of New Dehli back in the Forties without a rupee one in my pocket. Yes, it was a lot like that. High School was both depressing and oppressive for me.

Like bathing in the filthy, urine-rich Ganges.

Unclean.

And furthermore my trying to find great memories from high school is like searching for clean, potable water in New Dehli. But I guess you can if you try.

You know what the ubiquitous “they” say—Sikh and ye shall find.

Anyway, I couldn’t wait to be able to only reflect back on what High School represented. And I only wanted to do that infrequently. The memories still make me shudder.

So because of that, I asked a very wizened friend recently about ways to “thicken my skin”. He told me that our existences are comprised of two things: events and experiences. Events are finite; they have a very defined beginning, middle and an end. Experiences are those life lessons with staying power. Things that teach us about ourselves and each other. Our courses are altered with experiences.

We…I…. need to learn the difference, he insists. Release all the events. They served a purpose at that time and place. That’s it; no more, no less. But he says, I must always embrace each experience, they are what should comprise my memory bouquet.

Oh really??????

I thought about what he said. I let it meander through my gray matter a bit and then suddenly…SUDDENLY….Ah yes, I understood what he was talking about!!! By Jove, I GOT IT!!!! A gong sounded and reverberated in my head, a light went off (or maybe it was just a tumor) and there I was a short, petite blond with infernal acuity.

High school was a just series of events…………………….

………………………that proved to be THE WORST experience of my life.

I’m a quick study.

8 comments

  1. LK–How have you been???? I have been BURIED in work since Dec. 27. But I’ve come back and first thing first–read your blog–I remember similar books/notes/journals. The best was when I read one in 10th grade about a “friend” of mine–then she walked from around the corner where she was listening to my comments–yep-I’m an A-hole. But no more–now I’m a sensitive, caring, loving individual–who can be an A-hole if necessary. 😉

  2. I had not thought about slam books in decades until the other night. HS Freshman son was talking about some kids in one of his classes, who were being mean to another kid who was only semi-deserving of the abuse. We got to talking about how cruel children could be and that they always had been that way. Remembering a HS girlfriend’s reaction to a slam book about her, I used that as an example of cruelty in ancient times. He said, “I’ve never heard of a slam book – they must not have them anymore.”

    Sure they do, it’s called the internet.

  3. kids certainly can be cruel-especially girls. i had my share of run-ins with them so i decided having male friends instead was by far a better idea. jealously among females isn’t a very nice thing at times.

  4. Slambooks are now reason #173 that I’m glad we homeschool our two teenage daughters.

  5. High school years can be the best time of your life or HELL! I was a victim of some 7th grade girls BULLIES, they almost destory me. But, by grace of God and some friends, I was save from them in 8th grade. It is so hard to be strong in that period of life. And those Slambooks can cause a lot of damage. And it can stay with a person for years or the rest of their life. Thanks, LK for the great story.

  6. I wish I still had my slam book. One of my daughters had something similar in jr high a long time ago. It was really bad though. We just thought we were mean, kids now-a-days are worse. No fear of anything.

    I don’t really recall being mean when we wrote in our slam books. Were we Laurie? You remember everything, cheese and mustard!!

  7. Some people were kind of pointed about their comments.

    Don’t you remember?

    Otherwise, it was just a way to feed our egos and vie for popularity. I’d love to see my slambooks again. I guess I;d have to go rummaging through Mrs, Gibbons; closet…like she’d still have mine. How much fun would it be to look through one of these again? I;d probably laugh till I cried.

    Do you remember buying Ambergris cologne and funky blue nail polish at City Pharmacy?

    Cheryl, refresh my memory on something. Did you have a boyfriend in Jr, High other than Bobby W? I seem to be all Mark Martin’d out and can’t remember if you had a boyfriend or a series of them or just crushes or what????

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