“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
A few days ago I told you I drove when I was 12. Whelp, I had my first license when I was 14 (it would seem I was a go-getter in my youth).
Here’s the story.
It’s my freshman year of high school. I’ve been in the Houston schools for three and a half years. I’ve got some friends I now see and hang out with every day. They are both girls. They are both girly-girls.
Every year Houston has several events centered around the Christmas season in December. One of those events is Miss Merry Christmas. It’s a high school girls pageant. I attended the year before (8th grade) because my parents knew someone in it. It’s not at all my kind of thing.
Freshman year arrives and I’ve sort of tunneled into myself. I’m not sure why but high school puts me on edge. (It wasn’t until years later in a psychology class I discover this was most likely due to the fact that I am a straight up no chaser introvert, and I haven’t learned any coping strategies yet.) My friends, who I’ve known for more than a couple years now, notice the shift in me.
Somehow, despite the fact I am not an easily swayed person once my mind is made up, they convince me to join them in the Miss Merry Christmas pageant as a competitor. I remember when I told my mother I’d signed up she was silent for a solid minute with shock before the full force of her enthusiasm took me by storm.
Here’s the the itinerary for the pageant. First, you sang and danced in a group. Second, you preformed a talent. Third, you put on a fancy dress and stood in a line on stage. When it was your turn you drew a question out of a bowl and answered it. Finally, it culminated in everyone being handed out a “thank you for participating” swag bag, and the naming of 1st-3rd place (first place being crowned by the prior years winner).
There are only three things I remember about that freshman experience. One, my mother made me a gorgeous dress from scratch (the only formal I’ve ever worn and wanted to wear again… but have never been that size again). Two, I did a comedy monologue about a girl taking her drivers test. Three, surprisingly enough, I had a ton of fun.
I decided to do it again the next year, much to my mothers delight. That year my mother altered a dress we got from 1/2 for 1/2 (LOVE THAT STORE…the Springfield one). My mothers parents had passed away (six months apart from each other) that year. One night I was riding back from Springfield with my mom and just joshing around singing, making up a tune about them. My mom asked me to do that for the competition. So I wrote a song and teamed up with the worship leader from the Christian Church in town to write music for it. And I sang in front of a crowd, which I am not fond of in any way.
I had more fun that year than I had the last. Then the worst thing ever happened. I won.
I know, I know, what makes that the worst thing? Well, once you win you can’t compete anymore. I got to come back the next year and crown the winner. That’s it though. Which was a bummer…for me. Senior year, I didn’t even attend.
Back to the license.
When you win first place part of your prize is money. If I remember right it was $100 (maybe $200). My mother decided I should use it to start a checking account. There might have been a savings account in there too. But lets face it, I was a teenager and all I really paid attention to was the money I could spend.
The problem is, in order to have a checking account you have to have a form of identification. So, I got my first license, a non-driving license.
Perhaps you’re wondering what I used my prize money for? Who my first check got written to? I thought it through really hard and … decided it should go to Auntie Annie’s for a salted pretzel and cheese. Yup, thats right. Auntie Annie’s. I think it was like a two or three dollar check. The cashier looked at me like I was crazy. But, I felt like quite a grownup in the moment.
Then the next moment arrived.
My second purchase was at Old Navy. They had just come out with those check scanners. I spent forever and a day delicately writing out that check, they scanned it, then handed it back to me. I turned to my mother, check in hand, dumbfounded expression in place, and asked “what do I do with it now?”
I went right back to being an ignorant 14 year old.
(For your viewing pleasure.)