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1987: The Year I went to Second Base

Bad hair, boys and Bon Jovi

By Melanie CharlesPublished 3 years ago 5 min read
By me

I grew up in the 80s. A time of big hair, curling irons and Kylie Minogue’s Locomotion. It was 1987. The year of Whitney Houston’s, ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’. We were all screaming at the top of our voices when Bon Jovi’s, ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ came on the radio. The Top 40 was something that I picked up from the music store every week. It was printed on a sickly yellow A5 paper. Aretha Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Sadly only 8% of women make up the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Do better.

The Berlin Wall was a thing. A wall divided a city, physically and ideologically. It felt incongruous with the times or any time (sadly the wall didn’t come down for another two years, 9 November), especially the 80s.

I was living in Albury. A town of 40,000 something in Australia. There was one main Street, Dean street. We would ride through the streets on our bicycles; me on my dusky pink bicycle wearing a ra ra skirt (yes it was a thing) with a teased fringe with bottle sun bleached hair.

My greatest concern was how to convince my mother that I was staying at my best friend’s house for the night and that I wasn’t going out to a party that she wouldn’t approve of. I had a job at McDonald’s and had just bought my first double cassette tape player that year, so I could make a mixed tape for my friends. It was also the year I went to second base.

He: Macca. No idea what it was short for or what his first name is. It has been a LOT of years. But I do remember his languorous smile and those ocean blue eyes. He was one of the princes of the bad boys group. They weren’t really bad boys in the real sense of the word. But you knew they would take your virginity if they could and for a girl from a Catholic school that was one of the greatest sins. They cared little for homework and school and seemed worldly, mysterious. As if somehow they were beyond all that.

Me: A little naive, innocent, long legs. When I look back at pictures of myself, I am reminded of a newly born foal; all legs and uncertain, gently testing the world with each step. I was confident and a little shy at the same time.

My hair was (and probably still is) my greatest personal struggle. No really. Any curly haired girls out there will know. I lived in a time of the original Charlie’s Angels. Then, everyone wanted not Jennifer Aniston’s hair, but Farrah Fawcett’s. It was the time of perms and stripey streaks. My mother wouldn’t let me have streaks, but what possessed her to say yes to me having a perm! You can imagine. I looked like a poodle!

My best friend had perfectly straight hair that always did what she wanted and all I ever dreamed about was having hair like hers. I’ve come to terms with my hair, especially now hair straighteners exist, but I find I wear it natural more than not. Time allows you to learn what works for you. So any curly haired girls out there wondering if your hair will ever get better. Yes! You will learn what works for you, not what well-meaning hairdressers who have never had to deal with trying to tame the mop who fawns over how beautiful your hair is. I can’t say you will ever LOVE your hair, but you will learn to make it work for you and feel like you.

So that was me, I had a lot of friends, was chatty, but unsure about myself and the world, never really knowing who I was or what I wanted from life. It’s taken years to develop an internal confidence that feels like me.

It was summer holidays. A time of bare feet and even barer legs. The spirit of freedom lingered in the air, teasing us with her limited time. Our days were spent as far from home as possible. Stretching the boundaries and limits of our parents. Smoking as if it was cool. Lying by the pool, stretching our legs in worship to the sun. The dream days of best friends and a burgeoning interest in boys and their interest in me.

I had heard through the teenage vine that Macca was interested. Flattered, flustered and heart thumping could this boy be something? Someone? A dance began. His friends told my friends and the conversation began. I’m not sure I ever really had a conversation with him beyond the dull and mundane.

Then a couple of weeks later…. One weekend in January, my best friends’ parents were going out of town. What better excuse for a sleepover? The date was set. A Saturday night where my best friend, her boyfriend, Macca and I would spend the evening together.

My strongest memory of that night is Def Leopard’s, ‘Love Bites’ playing in the background as we made out and I went to second base (I feel like we should have a pause here. I went to second base!).

He could be with anyone, but he liked me.

I had kissed boys before. One day I may even tell you about my one true love that I met when I was twelve. But I had never gone to second base. It felt magical for so many reasons. Here was a boy like Macca who liked me and could he kiss……. Popular and gorgeous. He could be with anyone, but he liked me.

The boys went home about midnight. There was no sleepovers for them. Remember I was a Catholic school girl and the fear of god had been sermonised into me to not have sex before marriage. Obviously I got over that. Thankfully, since I’ve never been married.

Instead, it’s ‘is he right for me and do I want to be with him?

As I write this I think about the person I was then and the person I’m now and my relationship with myself and men. I can’t say I’ve learnt everything I need or want to, but I know who I am. What I want and my value in the world. I’m so thankful that I finally love all aspects of me (even my hair – sort of) and the thought isn’t ‘he could be with anyone’, instead it’s ‘is he right for me and do I want to be with him?’ That journey took a long time and lots of average relationships and some wonderful ones that I was a bit of a screw up in.

1987: The year I went to second base.


About the Creator

Melanie Charles

Children's book author. Often gets the apostrophe placing wrong.

Often ponders, 'How did I get so old?' Writes stories about her life so far, things that interest her and often things that make her rage at the world. Pretty much whatever.

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