March 1990 diary

Re-Reading My Teenage Diaries | March 1990

Saturday, March 10th, 1990

My birthday! I’ve had a great time. When I came downstairs dad filmed me opening my presents. I got jeans, shoes, a new Sony MEGABASS Walkman, and £40 altogether from grandparents and friends. I’m going to buy a shellsuit with the money. [* QUIETLY DIES* ] We went to see Granny and Grandad then we came home and got ready to go out for dinner. I wore my new jeans and shoes, my square-necked top, and we went to pick up Chloe, who as usual was looking better than me. She gave me a £3 record token and a little bear with perfume and a chocolate orange, which was great of her. We had dinner (I had a cheese salad and a Baby Cham), played the jukebox and eyed up 3 guys who were sitting in the corner. Then we came home and had my cake, got ready for bed and put on ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddie’s Revenge’. Which was a bit disappointing, actually, because although it’s rated 18, it wasn’t too scary. So we put it off, got into bed (Chloe had the sofa bed) and talked about everyone in the class for ages, then we went to sleep.

[I think this photo was taken during the birthday meal in question, although without seeing either the cheese salad or the Baby Cham, it’s hard to be sure, so it could actually be from a year – or even two, who knows – later. It is, however, literally a photo of me with my jacket on and my head down, sitting in a corner, which makes it think it must have been from this year. ]

[That jacket, btw, belonged to my mum when she was a teenager, before being passed down to me. My parents still have it: I tried it on last week, actually, and it still fits, so maybe I’ll buy me a square necked top and some mom jeans and dress as my teenage self for Halloween this year…]

Monday, March 12th, 1990

Great day! One of the best I’ve had in ages! I looked good today because I had on my new clothes, and I felt good too. It obviously didn’t go unnoticed. Jamie D, a boy in my class who I quite fancy got his best pal Ben to ask me out! I didn’t say yes (I was very vague about the whole thing), but I was very, very pleased. Ben (Who I really fancy) says that Jamie really likes me and thinks I’ve got a nice figure. Also, I think Archie, who’s a good mate of mine, fancies me too. At least, he says he does, and so do a few other people. He bought me a jelly engagement ring from the ice cream van and gave me it, but I ate it!!!

[Note from older me: My tactic with boys I liked was always to make sure they did not, under any circumstances, know I liked them, and this tactic extended to refusing to go out with them if they asked. That way they never, ever found out that I liked them, and I never had to go through the agony of actually having a boyfriend, and was free instead to indulge in my favourite hobby: crying over the fact that I didn’t have a boyfriend.]

Wednesday, March 14th

School was extra good today. Ben, Jamie’s best pal, talked to me a lot today (I fancy him) and acted like he fancied me! Chloe was mad jealous, and because Jamie and Ben are the most popular boys in our year, and they were talking to me, everyone else started talking to me too. This is brilliant!!!

I took my parents to parents night and got an excellent report from all my teachers, which was great, until a cloud appeared on the horizon: course choice. After a lot of pressure and worry etc, I decided on my courses. English and maths are compulsory, and so are Life & Work, P.E. and S.E. You also have to choose one science. In the end I chose computing, economics, French, chemistry and art. I’m really worried cos I don’t know what job I want, so I cried quite a lot at night. Not a very good end to a fantastic day.

Thursday, March 15th, 1990

Today was extra, EXTRA good!!! Both Ben and Jamie paid me a LOT of attention today and Chloe was furious! I would love to go out with them, but this poses three problems:

01. I don’t know if my parents would let me.

02. I’ve only ever been out with Gary from primary school and we didn’t even talk to each other [Because I was determined to make sure he didn’t know I liked him, obviously: well played, young Amber. Well played…] so I don’t really know what to do?

03. I don’t have any hairspray for tomorrow and I desperately need it cos at art Chloe and I sit with Jamie and Zimo and if I look a mess things will be BAD.

Also, dad has to go into hospital on Sunday to get his tonsils out. [This is obviously less important than that thing about the hairspray, but what the hell, I’ll just mention it anyway.] The bubble looks set to burst. [It took me three reads of this sentence to realise that the ‘bubble’ I was referring to here was not, in fact, in my dad’s tonsils, but was the bubble I was apparently living in at the time, thanks to my new-found post-birthday popularity, which was now slipping out of my hands, thanks to the hairspray crisis . Those jeans and shoes I got must’ve been something SPECIAL, is all I can say…]

Friday, March 16th, 1990

Today wasn’t, I admit, as good as the rest of this week has been. Having said that, it wasn’t as bad as some days I’ve had. [Wait: did I miss the bit where I turned 83 during this particular week, or why am I suddenly talking like I’m an elderly lady in an Edwardian novel?] I’ve got a MAJOR problem. Every Friday, Chloe and I sit next to Jamie and Zimo. (Jamie is the one who asked me out.) I fancy Jamie and he started talking to me and I started blushing furiously. My face went absolutely crimson, and I’m sure he noticed!!

Sunday, March 18th, 1990

Took dad into hospital today. He didn’t get into the same room as he did last time, he’s in a ward with some other guys. Mum and I are going to take the bus into the hospital cos we don’t want to be under obligation to anyone to give us a lift. We’re very proud. [Again with the Edwardian-ladies-fallen-upon-hard-times trope. Sounds like my mum was trying to prepare me here for the straightened circumstances we would have to live in if my dad didn’t survive the operation, and we were forced to throw ourselves upon the mercy of a distant male relative, who I would be expected to marry in order to keep a roof over our heads. Luckily it was just a tonsillectomy, though, so that didn’t happen. It’s good to be prepared, though. ] Dad gets his operation tomorrow to remove his tonsils. [I presumably couldn’t find a way to make this about me, hence the very short entry about it.]

Monday, March 19th, 1990

Boring day at school today, nothing exciting happened. Went in to see dad. He’s had his operation and has made a remarkable recovery. Normally people can’t eat or talk when they’ve had their tonsils out, but dad can! Trust him!!!! He should be getting home Wednesday.

Notes from my older self:

As I typed up this month’s diary entries, it occurred to me that 1990 was truly a turning point in my young life, if only I’d had the wit to realise it at the time. This month in particular was one in which a tremendous opportunity presented itself to me: the opportunity to go out with one of the popular boys – who I actually really liked– and thus become “normal” in the eyes of my peers. So, I had a choice between popularity and weirdness, in other words, and, naturally, I chose weirdness. Every time. FFS, Amber.

It’s actually really strange looking back on these entries, because I wasn’t exaggerating when I said Jamie and Ben were the most popular boys in our year: they really were, and it’s just a shame I was so convinced that I was basically Stephen King’s “Carrie”, being tricked into going to prom with one of the school football stars just so the popular kids could empty a bucket of pig’s blood over her head, that I didn’t allow myself to actually enjoy any of my brief popularity, even while I was gloating about it to my diary. Sad trombone.

(Sports weren’t really a thing at our school – sniffing glue was a thing at our school – but, if they had been, Ben would’ve been the star quarterback who everyone hero worshipped, while Jamie was the popular guy who was even nice to the nerdy girl. I would’ve been the nerdy girl, obviously. I mean, it’s possible I’m thinking of Taylor Swift’s video for ‘You Belong With Me’ here, rather than my actual life as a teenager, but you get what I mean, I’m sure…)

So, as I read over these posts, I felt a bit sad at the thought of how differently my life might have turned out, if I’d only had that can of hairspray. That’s where it all went wrong, obviously. If I’d just had the hairspray, I’d have gone out with Jamie, been accepted by the cool kids, maybe had half a chance of growing up “normal”… Instead, though, my life was to follow a different path: and it was all for the want of a single can of hairspray…

(Yes, I know what you’re thinking: it was because I obviously used it all on my fringe for my birthday meal that year. You’re not wrong, either…)

[Photo by pure julia on Unsplash]

books by Amber Eve