'Cause when you're fifteen and
Somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
And when you're fifteen
Feeling like there's nothing to figure out
But count to ten, take it in
This is life before you know who you're gonna be
- Taylor Swift
Ah, yes. Taylor Swift's song "Fifteen" certainly sounds like a song that could describe how I felt at fifteen myself - well, aside from the someone telling me that they loved me. I was the dateless wonder of high school.
Not that there was anything wrong with that, of course.
Of course, when I was fifteen years old, Taylor Swift was probably still in grade school figuring out what colour you get when you mix red and blue. This of course, makes me feel super old now, but hey. Birthdays have a way of doing that to you.
And, as the anniversary of the blog is fast approaching, we're heading into the year 1996, where admittedly a lot happened. And as I post this snapshot of me from my fifteenth year of life, I'll tell you one of the three stories that I plan to tell in this piece.
Okay, so this photo is black and white because it was a part of my tenth grade yearbook. I don't have a whole lot of photos from high school for some reason. Anyway, my hair in this picture looks really good now, but I experimented a lot with my hair in '96. I wore a bowl cut, I grew it out, I shaved it mostly off (a mistake that I will NEVER do again), and I put in all sorts of hair styling products to try and get it under control. I now realize that with my hair thinning that I probably should have just left it alone. However, I will say this. I found that hair gel works best for me. I think I probably used a hundred bottles of Dippity-Do between the ages of fifteen and nineteen!
In pop culture news around my fifteenth birthday...
#1 SONG THE WEEK OF 5/18/1996
"Tha Crossroads" - BONE THUGS-N-HARMONY
Oh, dear lord, I dislike this song. I really, really dislike this song. But I don't outrightly hate it. There are worse songs that charted in later years. Wait until the day I talk about turning 28. That's all I will say about that.
#1 AT THE BOX OFFICE THE WEEK OF 5/18/1996
True story. I saw this movie on my fifteenth birthday at the movie theatre and loved the whole thing. Okay, sure, so the science presented in the film was far from accurate. It's still an entertaining film. Come to think of it, 1996 was an awesome year for movies. Much more interesting than the music on the radio anyway. I mean, the Macarena being a #1 hit for a quarter of the year? What the hell?
#1 TELEVISION SHOW FOR THE 1996/1997 SEASON
I guess that "ER" must have been one popular show when it first came on. Once again, the show was number one. And my confession is that I have only seen a handful of episodes. The theme song still kicks butt though.
Okay, so what happened when I turned fifteen? Lots of things.
Did you know that at the age of fifteen, I became an uncle for the first time? My one and only niece was born in September 1996, and I have to say, I think I was the only kid in my whole class to be an uncle that young. But, hey, look at it this way. If my sister and brother-in-law hypothetically got pregnant the week after they got married, I would have been an uncle at nine! And, actually, I have an aunt that is two years YOUNGER than my eldest sister.
Ah, age differences. You gotta love 'em. I can't believe that my niece is now eighteen years old! Again, remembering birthdays does that to you.
And in 1996, I also was one of four people who scored high on a national mathematics contest (which I don't know how that happened, given that I nearly flunked math just a year and a half later - long story there), and had my name put on the main billboard of the school and had a huge picture in the yearbook. Have a look!
But I can tell you that in addition to wearing a T-shirt that did NOT FLATTER ME AT ALL, I was also sporting something else. If you look closely, you may see that I had a bit of a black eye. Yes, there's a story behind that one.
We're going back to the tail end of ninth grade for this tale, just a couple of weeks after I turned fifteen. My classes that semester were French, Science, Mathematics, and Phys Ed. And, since the school year was winding down and the weather was getting warmer, our gym classes were held outside. Now, the way that my school was, it was landlocked in a residential neighbourhood, so we didn't have our own track field or football field. Instead, the field and baseball diamonds were built at the closest elementary school - which happened to be the school that I attended between 1987 and 1995! So, whenever we had gym class in June, we walked to the school and played football (ugh), baseball (a little better) or volleyball (my favourite - see Year 13 to see why).
For what it was worth, I never really liked gym class very much when I was in elementary school. The kids teased me on my lack of athletic ability, and I always had low self-esteem whenever I had to take part in gym. Though, part of it could have been because I didn't have great gym teachers. Most of them were grouchy old coots who would rather have been drinking spiked coffee in the teacher's lounge than teaching us about good health and physical activity.
Mr. Corney was different. He was my gym teacher for ninth grade, and he was anything but corny (pardon the pun). You see, unlike any of the other teachers that I had in gym, he actually graded you based on how much effort you put in class, and how much you paid attention in the health education portion of the class. High school gym classes devoted six weeks to in class learning, and admittedly, most of the jocks in the class slept through the class and became huge class clowns. But I paid attention in class, and ended up getting a higher mark in gym than some of the more athletic people in the class. I'm like, hell yeah! Finally a gym teacher who cared and understood!
Oh, and one more thing. He almost broke my nose.
Well, not intentionally, of course. In fact, I remember him being freaked out at first until I reassured him that I was okay!
How it happened? Well, remember how I said that in gym class we had classes outside when the weather warmed up? One day in June, the class played baseball, and I have to admit that it wasn't my best sport. I didn't do too badly in the infield, but when it came time to hitting, I was definitely the strike out king.
It was my turn at bat, and Mr. Corney was the pitcher. And what was good about his style was that he made sure that we were comfortable with the way he pitched the ball before he threw it. It helped us get more comfortable with how to hold the bat, but also instilled good communication with our teammates - another reason why I liked having him as a gym teacher.
And by all accounts, the pitch should have gone well. I was admittedly the weakest hitter in the whole class, and I had communicated with the teacher to throw it slowly so I had a better chance to hit it. Again, it should have been an easy hit.
Unfortunately, in what seemed like a freak display of physics, the ball ended up bouncing upward when it hit the bat and smacked me right in the schnozz!
And blood. Boy was there blood. It's lucky that I wasn't a hemophiliac or else I'd have really been in trouble. I was convinced that my nose was broken and it hurt like hell.
I'm really amazed that I didn't cry outright. Yes, my eyes were filled with tears, but that could have been because the ball hit me on the side of my nose which caused a little bit of a black eye to show. And, again, Mr. Corney was there to help me through it, stopping the bleeding, taking me off the diamond, finding me a place to sit the rest of the period. He could not have been more kind.
And you know what? I'll give my classmates a lot of credit. None of them laughed when I got hit. In fact, I think some of them sympathized with me. That also helped a lot, and it didn't make me feel like a complete idiot. Not that I had any reason to feel that way anyway. It was a freak accident.
And, after a quick trip to the emergency room of the hospital, it turned out that my nose wasn't broken. Bruised, but not broken. I just had to put some ice on it that night and the next morning it was fine.
So, yeah...fifteen was a year that brought some physical pain, but it healed. But as fifteen became sixteen...well...let's just say that it wasn't a sweet year.