DO (OR D.I.Y.)

In eighth grade I was barely twelve and I was in love with the most beautiful boy. His initials were DL and his last name (much like my Lucy Factor) meant ‘the light’. He was as pretty as a girl with soft, molded lips and a gentle wave in his brown hair and he looked really good in the fashions of the day which were (at least in Canada) corduroy wide legs in a variety of colors (brown, beige, dark blue, l. blue) coordinated with a plain turtleneck and a shirt (often made of polyester) with a vague design printed on it- like sailboats or tea cups. He was nicer than the other boys and could play Nadia’s Theme on the piano. And he looked really good in pants that flopped around his shins and couldn’t be tucked neatly into winter boots. I did not. I tried one time to coordinate an outfit and ended up making the dreaded error of combining brown (corduroys/shirt) with light blue (turtleneck). If I hadn’t already been firmly ensconced in the nerd quarters my social standing would have plummeted but fortunately I was already down there at the bottom being a tall, gawky girl with brown (stringy) hair, a definite nose and glasses rather than the preferred blonde archetype. Did I mention I went to a small university-run school and I was the only girl in the eighth grade class?
Anyway I looked like *crap* in the prevailing late 70’s/ early 80’s fashions besides not having a clue. I thought narrower-legged pants would look better so I started pegging my corduroys by hand. Sometimes I’d make them so tight that it was hard getting them on over my feet. I believe I sometimes sewed myself into them. By the time I got to high school all my pants were pegged. I was still in the geek squad but I was happier. And then something miraculous happened. Punk rock. (Canada didn’t catch on until ’80, ’81). I remember being one of maybe twelve people at a free outdoor Ramones concert. And all of a sudden the fact that I was a tomboy, that my jeans didn’t flap when I walked and tended to have nihilistic things scrawled on them, that I wore high top converse because I fancied myself a basketball player, and liked to shop in the army navy surplus store for olive colored clothing and scour the used clothing stores for old men pants was totally happening. I mean my look was severely annoying to some people which is what being a teenager is all about. And at that point in time all it took was a black trench coat or a drab army windbreaker, skinny jeans, and a sex pistols t-shirt. My Nova-Scotian next door neighbor who went to the other high school, played basketball, had hair down to her toches and was unbelievably wholesome used to take her life in her hands when she wore her neon green and pink punk t-shirt. It made people seethe. She caused apoplexies. And her older sister, Cathy (who we all called caca when we were little- can’t get punker than that!) got death threats when she cut her hair to one inch stubble and wore black eyeliner. We pinned ‘white punks on dope’ and ‘white dopes on punk’ buttons to our jackets and had no idea what it meant or where it came from but it was cool and convenience store employees wouldn’t serve us. Watching my daughter pull down all the books and videos from our shelves is sort of the same thing, but now I’m the old fart and she’s the rebel.
It was so refreshing to get out of the malls and buy clothes and alter them. For years every time my mother gave my sister a new shirt she’d cut the collar and the sleeves off. We dyed our hair with food coloring (there was no manic panic or crazy color back then). Some of us shaved our eyebrows off (twice)ahem, I name no names—which by the way immediately makes you look weirder than weird. I experimented with Mohawks soon after moving to suburban California and finding nothing but neo-hippies. Not so successful were the bride of Frankenstein stripes I shaved into each side of my head or the red eyeliner which was meant to be vampiric but was more white rabbit.
If I wanted to advertise my support of a band I painted a t-shirt. I used oil paints and the shirts were cool but they stunk and took a long time to dry. Later we all learned how to silkscreen and set up an operation in an abandoned dumpster which was like an oven in the summer.
I pierced my ears myself since you couldn’t get the ladies at the department stores to put earrings in anywhere but the normal places. P.S. I don’t recommend this.
There was no Hot Topic, no Lipp Service, no punk catalogues; we made our own stuff and out of the individual efforts arose a grassroots sort of thing. And this mind-set, established so early, stuck with me through my sojourn in the record industry.
What does this have to do with my present occupation of writer? Just that I’m not a sit-on-my-hands sort of gal. My publishing company supplied ample marketing and promotion for my book but I augmented it. 300 postcards to indie retailers- individually signed, posters, buttons (I love me some buttons!), stickers, meet and greets, writing workshops, readings. Whatever it takes. I used to tell my artists at the ole record label, No one is ever going to care as much about your project as much as you do.

2 thoughts on “DO (OR D.I.Y.)

  1. You have brought the 70s/80s all crashing back into my memory. You were definitely super-cool, especially for sleepy old Canada.

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