When I was in junior high, I was cursed with the worst thing that could possibly happen to an adolescent girl circa 1980: my hair did not feather.
Back then, feathered hair was paramount to success. All the popular girls had feathered hair and glossy lips and satin jackets. I, on the other hand, had limp, red hair that never did anything right, much less did anything at all except hang there, looking greasy. Kissing Potion lip gloss made my braces stand out more, and my mom refused to buy me a satin jacket or Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. To make matters worse, I wasn’t cute or coordinated in gymnastics, two other tickets to pre-teen success. I couldn’t roller-skate very well, nor did I have a winning, flirty personality. I read ‘Teen and Seventeen magazines, hoping that I would stumble upon the secret that the other girls seemed to inherently know, that was navigating them through the horrors of adolescence with confidence and pizzazz while I just felt irritated and gross and like a giant dork.
But one day I found the secret, and it wasn’t in any magazine — it was in the bins at the record store at the mall. Thanks to an album with five girls in towels and face masks on the cover, I learned that I didn’t need feathered hair or designer jeans or to fit in; I learned that I didn’t need to fit in at all. I learned that I could like what I liked and to pay no mind to what the popular girls may say — it didn’t matter anyway. Hey hey hey.
I’ve heard this song maybe about, oh, a million times since the first time I put the needle on that record all those years ago, but every single time I still feel that joy I felt the first time I heard it — that life was filled with possibilities and I was going to find an escape from the angst, even if it was only for the two plus minute duration of the song. Back then angst was more about zits and bad hair while now it’s more about paying taxes and bad hair, but still. No matter how old or dorky I am, there’s always joy.
Here’s some joy for you.