Character Sketch: Joanna Rice

Character Sketch: Joanna Rice
Image provided by JustCallMe
https://www.flickr.com/photos/babs4180/

Joanna Rice was one of those teenagers who had everything going for her. Her figure, face, and hair are the envy of almost every other girl in her school, even the ones who were one and two years older. Her intelligence was way above average, making most of her classes so easy she rarely had to study. She soaks up the knowledge during class time like a sponge.

The rest of Rice family consists of her parents and one younger sister. There didn’t seem to be any strife between the siblings. If you asked her parents why this was, they’d shrug their shoulders and say, “It’s probably because they’re so different. There isn’t any competition between them.” The parents are loving, even to each other, which Joanna found embarrassing at times.

All looked good from the outside, but if you could see the conflict going on inside Joanna, you’d probably doubt her abilities to overcome it unless she found help. The problem was she doesn’t know how dire her circumstances were. Her assessment of her situation was completely off base.

It started a little over a year ago, the summer before her first year in high school. She was walking home from the neighborhood park when she felt someone behind her. She casually flipped her long dark brown hair to one side to look behind her, hopefully appearing nonchalant. No one was there. She told herself to forget it even though the feeling didn’t go away until she got inside the house. To be sure, she peeked out the front window. The street was deserted.

Five weeks after school started that fall, Joanna felt the presence while hurrying to classes. She tried to catch the culprit in the act but somehow the stalker was completely elusive. When she mentioned it to her best friend, Beth, she was told that she was crazy. No one was following her.

“Look, you’re just nervous. That’s all.”

“Yah, maybe you’re right.” Still, Joanna had serious doubts and the anxiety was building in her.

Her first report card looked exceptional to her parents and friends, A minuses and Bs. She was not happy with the grades though. She told her parents that her grades should be higher but the teachers were all against her.

“Mom, you should see the way they look at me. And they stand over my desk while I’m trying to work.”

The parents tried to reason with her, even thought they had gotten through to their firstborn. They hadn’t. She put on a brave face, keeping her suspicions to herself from then on.

A week later, she walked into her history class, heading for the second row, first seat, when someone whispered in her ear. “Don’t sit there. Take a seat at the back.”

“Why?” she asked, reeling around to see who it was. No one was there.

The boy sitting first row, second seat, peered up at her. “What? Who are you talking to, Jo?”

She could feel the heat rising in her cheeks. “No one. Mind your own business, Mike.” She hurried to the last seat in the row.

Her second year of high school has commenced. She’s held her own academically, but she’s slowly turned inward and doesn’t do much socializing, not even with her own family. She hides in her bedroom except for meals. Her sister has heard her talking to herself as if someone else is in the room with her. Yet, when Joanna answers her sister’s knock, it’s clear to see there’s no one there.

§

I studied Sociology/Social Work in college. I was thoroughly enthralled with the class I took exploring mental illness. I’m not an expert on this subject by any means though. Still, I do want to try writing a fictional story using this angle some time in the future. Of course, I’ll be doing more research.

“Am I a mindless fool? My life is a fragment, a disconnected dream that has no continuity. I am so tired of senselessness. I am tired of the music that my feelings sing, the dream music.”  ― Ross David Burke, When the Music’s Over: My Journey into Schizophrenia

 

My Best Friend, Glenda

I’m writing this post from two different prompts and I found at Writing.Com.

 

My Best Friend Glenda
Image provided by
Wonderland @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/

Sometimes it’s so inconceivable how friendships are formed. The way I became friends with Linda was typical. Girl moves into neighborhood. Girl up the street notices her. Girl from up the street walks down to the new girl’s house. They become friends. Definitely run of the mill stuff. And she was my best friend for the entire time I was in elementary school.

I didn’t have a best friend again until I was a junior in high school. I wasn’t friendless all those years in between. I just couldn’t get that special connection going with anyone. The friends I entertained during those between years didn’t know the way I felt about anything in my life. I kept all of that hidden.

Something So Strong
Tell us the origin story of your best friend. How did you become friends? What is it that keeps your friendship rockin’ after all these years?

Careless Whisper
It happens: sometimes that filter in our head bursts and we say too much of what we’re thinking and someone gets hurt. Tell us about a time you or someone you know said something that they immediately regretted.

I met Glenda at the home of a guy I knew from the pool at Eisenhower Park. It was late September of my junior year in high school. Often I would go see one or more of the kids from the pool after the last class of the day if I wasn’t working at the insurance company where I had a part -time job. You see, most of those kids lived in the next school district from mine.

The guy I was visiting that day was Skeeter. He had good reason to be called that, as silly as it was. It fit him better than Carroll. During that era, which was before the TV show, In the Heat of the Night starring Carroll O’Connell, to be called Carroll meant you were probably labeled as a sissy. Only girls had the name Carol (notice the difference in spelling). Skeeter was eighteen and out of high school. He, actually, was a low scum bum. His mom worked two jobs while Skeeter worked none. In my book, he was worthless trash.

So why did I hang around him at all? I was dating one of his closest friends, Danny. Danny wasn’t anything like Skeeter. He was a senior in high school, had a part-time job working for a mechanic and was always there to help his mom and dad. I hadn’t a clue as to why he considered Skeeter a friend at all, but that’s the way it was.

Skeeter’s new girlfriend was there that day, Glenda. She was only fourteen, a freshman attending the junior high just minutes away from the high school. She was a skinny little thing. At least that’s the way I thought of her despite the fact that she stood a little taller than me. Her body development was minimal, which caused me to wonder why someone eighteen would be interested in her. Maybe Skeeter thought he could dominate over her easier. Anyway, I felt some fear for this girl. I thought, for sure, that she was in way over her head in that relationship. I had known Skeeter for a couple of years already, and I had a pretty good idea of what he was all about.

After Danny and I left Skeeter’s house, we headed over to his house. On the ride there, I told Danny about my misgivings about Glenda being with his friend. Being the friend that he was to the scumbag, he told me that there was nothing we could do because it was their business and not ours. I left the matter closed after that unknowing that Danny told Skeeter about my concern. Danny didn’t know it would get back to Glenda just as I didn’t know either.

Glenda was not happy about what I had said. She cornered me a couple of days later and asked me to take a walk with her. As we walked, she told me how she felt about what I had said to Danny, keeping a level head and not even raising her voice. The girl was older than her years. I ended up apologizing to her. Believe it or not, she accepted my output of regret and we became friends right then and there.

It didn’t take long for us to become best friends. It got so that when we weren’t in school or doing homework, we were together doing something. Often there would be four of us, which would also include Chris and Charley.

Our friendship did finally fizzle seven years later. She was divorced from her husband who was another friend of the scumbag. She decided she needed to get away from Colorado and moved to Florida. Somehow writing each other never took place.

High School Suitors – Part 1

High School Suitors
Image provided by
Ariadna Bruna @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/50732422@N06/

I don’t consider myself pretty. I’ve seen much prettier women than me. However, despite this flaw and my tendency to be an introvert, I’ve always been able to put on a good mask of being presentable and friendly. The mask was a strategy of the survival of my teenage years.

After Bob and I let our phone relationship dwindle, I started flirting with the boys at the local public swimming pool. None of us took it seriously at all. Back then, most girls didn’t have a boyfriend in junior high school. It was a time used to learn how to flirt successfully and feel a little more relaxed when being with the opposite sex before hitting the big time in high school.

I must have learned a lot at that pool that summer before I went to high school because I ended up having a boyfriend by the end of my first day at my ‘new’ school. (In the Denver School District, high school was for sophomores, juniors and seniors. Freshmen were still part of the junior high school crowd.) I wasn’t even fifteen yet, and I wouldn’t be until the middle of the following week. To say the least, my two close friends at the time, Debbie and Mickie were envious.

High School Suitors - Part 1
Image provided by
cuatrok77 @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuatrok77/

I met him, kind of, in Study Hall. It was the one and only year that I had this class. The idea of a study hall went by the wayside after that. We had to sit in alphabetical order by last name so I was in the second to last row. He sat right next to me in the last row closest to the windows. We were expected to have something to do. The teacher, Mr. Johnson, monitoring the class had a strict ‘no-talking’ rule along with the other ones like no gum, no spit wads, no leaning back in the chairs, you must have something to occupy your time, etcetera.

The class I had just come from was English, and the teacher had taken us to the school library to pick out two books to read for our first assignment that would be due the following week. This meant I had something to do during my time in Study Hall that first day.

The boy sitting next to me, Gary, didn’t have anything with him except his schedule for the new school year. Mr. Johnson walked up to him and gave him a tongue-lashing for not being prepared. It was obvious that Gary was humiliated. I’m sure he wanted to sock the teacher one good one.

When Mr. Johnson went back to his desk at the front of the room, I pulled out the other book I had picked out at the library and plopped it into Gary’s lap. He looked at me, mouthed a thank-you, and started flipping through the pages.

When the bell rang for the class to end, he gave the book back and walked out of the classroom. I figured I’d see him the next day with something to do during the class time. I didn’t give him a second thought after that.

When I got home that afternoon, I did my normal: drop my books on my bed, go to the bathroom, change my clothes, get a celery stick, and start my studies. But the telephone rang. Mom came into my room telling me that it was for me. “Who is it?” I asked as I got up from my bed.

“I don’t know,” she said with a smile on her lips.

I trudged to the kitchen to pick up the receiver of the only phone for everyone in the house. (My parents had an extension in their room but my brother and I weren’t allowed in there unless invited.) It was Gary on the other end. “How did you get my number?” I asked.

“Your library card was in the book you lent me for Study Hall.”

Oops. I had forgotten all about my card. My phone number AND my address were on it for anyone to see.

He asked if he could stop by to show me his pet. My thoughts were that it was a strange way to get to know someone, but I said okay.

He came driving up to my house in a Fiat, a small boxy-looking car. Until that moment, I hadn’t known he was sixteen or better. Of course, my first question when he got out of his car was to ask him how old he was. He was sixteen and a junior in high school. Not only had I landed a boyfriend, but one who was a grade ahead of me too. I was raking up serious clout points.

Oh… his pet – it was a spider monkey. We talked on the front porch for over an hour. The kids on my block came over in a herd to see Gary’s monkey that was climbing and playing on the trellis that was on the side of the porch. Before he left, he asked me out for the next Sunday. I had to tell him that he’d have to wait for an answer because I was going to have to talk my parents into this. After all, it was for a Sunday and I wasn’t officially fifteen yet. (My parents’ rule for me was that I couldn’t date until I was fifteen.)

As it turned out, Gary’s grandmother went to our church. Despite the reluctance my parents had, they agreed to let me go out with him if I was home by 11:00pm.

The reason the date was on a Sunday was that it was a special dance where The Archies were going to be performing. The Archies were one of the popular groups playing what was called ‘Bubblegum Music’ during the late 1960s.

I dated Gary for three months. He was the one who broke it off saying he wanted to date other girls as well as me. I wasn’t even aware that we were ‘going steady’, but I was hurt nevertheless. We didn’t date after that until I was a senior and he was in college.

Fads of Junior School

Fads of Junior High School
Image provided by
Donna Sutton @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/77043400@N00/

The middle to late 1960s was an exciting time for almost all who lived in the Western World. There were little pockets in the Middle East and the Far East too, but not at the magnitude that it was seen in Europe and the countries of North America, and in particular, the United States.

I can’t remember for sure if it was when I was ten or eleven that I first found out about The Beatles. Before that time, I don’t think I ever even heard Rock and Roll music. I remember someone telling me that my cousin Vickie could ‘shimmy’. I didn’t know what that meant until I saw her do it at our grandpa’s birthday party that my uncle and aunt always held.

Before I knew who The Beatles were, the only popular music I heard was sung by Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Doris Day and others singing similar songs. Oh yes, I did know who Elvis was, but I wasn’t impressed and didn’t understand why anyone would be.

By the time I was twelve and in my first year (7th grade) of junior high school, I knew about more Rock bands than anyone that I associated with, even my cousin, Vickie. Of course, as the years passed, more and more of my friends were catching up with me in this department and some were going beyond what I knew.

The Vietnamese War was in full swing, although at that time, it was still being called a ‘Police Action’. (A police action my a**.) Even at that tender age of twelve, I didn’t like the thought of our military being forced to fight for someone else’s country. The phrase ‘fighting for Democracy’ sounded like a bunch of bull to me. Obviously, most of the US was in agreement with me despite my age because by the time I was a junior in high school, both young and old were giving their ‘two cents’ on the matter. Even my mom and grandma were getting boisterous about the situation over in Vietnam.

Shorter dresses and skirts were just becoming acceptable as well as popular. Mom wasn’t happy with it and put limits on how short I could wear my dresses and skirts. “No, Glynis. The limit is two inches about the knee. That’s it,” she’d state when I’d try to con her into shortening a dress just a smidgen more. I just wanted to fit in better. According to Mom though, I’d only be popular the way I wanted if I was ‘kind, clean, and friendly’. It wasn’t until I was almost seventeen that I finally figured out that her advice was working for me.

Because the family budget was so sparse, Mom was making most of my clothes. She didn’t mind me picking out my own material and I did have a say on the patterns although she had the final verdict on that matter. I had the big flower prints, the wide stripes, the orange, spring green, and psychedelic pink. I have no idea as to whether I looked okay or not. I just loved wearing all of it.

When I was thirteen, Mom let me get my ears pierced. I knew at the time that she probably wouldn’t be happy with me wearing the long dangly earrings, but I figured that over time I could soften her up. I just didn’t mention the long dangly earrings when I asked for permission to get the piercing. Even so, she did have stipulations. I had to use my own money and the piercing had to be done by my doctor. I just babysat Courtney’s boys a couple more times to get the money. As for the doctor, I was in transition, going from a pediatrician to a general practitioner. Mom had scheduled my first appointment with the general practitioner, but I didn’t know him from Adam yet. I opted for my pediatrician, Dr. Johnson. I knew him and I could walk to where his clinic was. Yes, I did feel odd going into see a children’s doctor at the age of thirteen but I got the job done.

Long hair for both boys and girls had come into style. However, my fine, thin, stringy hair looked God awful worn long. I knew it. Mom knew it. Even my brother was chiming in saying I looked stupid with my hair long. I ended up settling for what was called a ‘short bob’. My face was still quite round then and the ‘short bob’ wasn’t making it look any longer. By the time summer hit after the 8th grade, I went back to getting a ‘pixie’, asking the stylist to make it a little longer. When I looked in the mirror after the cutting, I was rather pleased with what I saw.

 

Fads come and go just as they did back then. They mark the time of eras that will never be forgotten by the people who lived through them.

What fads do you remember?

 

A Girl's First Boyfriend

A Girl's First Boyfriend
Image provided by
Cynthia Aesthetic @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/cynthiaaesthetic/

Some girls consider their first boyfriend to be the one who is first to kiss them. Okay, I guess that qualifies. Nevertheless, the attributes that I felt were important were how a boy treated me and how I treated him.

 

I was not like the young girls who were so eager to have a boyfriend. I didn’t like the first boy who kissed me. If truth were told, I was appalled by his actions. Being a young lady of five years old, I had high standards and exalted hopes for my future. I was well aware of the reality that I was not of age to even consider any affairs of a romantic nature — and certainly not with Steve.

There was a whole swarm of us kids outside in the late afternoon playing Kick the Can, a game closely related to Hide and Go Seek. I was hiding behind the bushes along the front of my home. Other kids were hiding in other places within a perimeter of three front yards. Steve showed up behind the same bushes where I was on my haunches. I moved over so that if he were found, maybe I still would be hidden. The stupid boy moved closer to me! All I did was give him a look of disgust. That’s when he kissed me. I quickly wiped my lips off with my hand (dirty from keeping my balance) and moved to the side of the house hoping that I hadn’t been seen. I, of course, refused to speak to him from then on and made awful faces at him in school.

 

By the time I hit fifth grade, I decided I wanted a boyfriend so that I’d fit in better with the other girls at school. I was still horrified by the idea of kissing a boy. After all, I certainly wasn’t kissing my brother who was also a boy. Still, I had observed that the boys and girls weren’t kissing at school. I figured if I could have a boyfriend that I’d only see at school, this appalling act wouldn’t be happening.

John was new to the school. I didn’t have a clue as to where he lived really, although I did know that I wasn’t seeing him on my three-block walk to or from school. What’s more, he liked me. I felt fantastic because most of the girls in my class liked John, and yet, he had chosen me.

The romance was minimal at best. It was this way with all of the kids. We were just fluttering our wings, one of those preparations for that day far off in the future when we would leave our parents’ nest. For the time being, romance was walking hand in hand around the schoolyard during the few minutes before school and during lunchtime, stopping occasionally to talk to a friend. My ‘love relationship’ with John lasted a whole big two weeks. I was relieved when it was over, and pointedly decided that John was not my first boyfriend either. If it had been real, I would have known more about him. At least this was my logic about the subject at the time.

 

Junior high school was different. I was no longer a child, and I had the curves and mood swings to prove it. I was still hanging out/around with my childhood friend, Linda. She was 1 ½ years older than I was so, of course, she knew more about boys than I did. Her boyfriend’s name was Don; and he lived across town from where we were. Despite the physical distance that was usually between them, they made it work; and it worked for over two years.

About once each month, Don would ride his bike all the way across town to see Linda. I knew what they were doing in Linda’s bedroom while her mom was at work but I didn’t say a word to anyone about it. Although I was intrigued by their relationship, I knew that I was a long way off from being ready for that. Was Linda ready at that young age? Even when I stop to think about it now, I’m still not sure what the answer should be.

It was through Don that I was introduced to Bob. This didn’t mean we were seeing each other physically though. I was introduced over the phone. Bob, like me, was younger than his friend was. This knowledge, plus the miles between us, made me feel wonderfully comfortable. Each night a nine o’clock, he would call and we would talk for an hour, more when we could get away with it. Both sets of parents were on board with this relationship. My mom called Bob my ‘telephone boyfriend’ as if it wasn’t quite real.

Bob and I felt differently about our feelings for each other. Although we knew for certain that it wasn’t love, we were definitely in ‘like’ with each other. We genuinely care how the other one felt on a number of subjects.

We met face to face once. It was the following holiday season from when we had first ‘met’. Both sets of parents were beginning to realize that when we got in high school, we may just start actually dating. All four of them decided that there should be a meeting of sorts between them. It ended up that I, along with my parents, went to Bob’s house for desert after our Sunday supper at home. The get-together went well. We exchanged Christmas gifts and played records in the family room while the parents chatted away in the living room.

No, our relationship didn’t last until we were both sophomores in high school, but he most certainly was my first real boyfriend. A memory I still ponder on once in a great while.

 

When was your first ‘love relationship’?