Teen Abulous

78 Comments

Disclaimer: This post contains musical references that Gen Ys might not get.

I’m sure it would shock you all to hear that I was boy crazy as a teenager! No – really. Let me tell you, there’s no sadder creature than a lust crazed adolescent girl who can’t pull a boyfriend. The reasons for my lack of appeal with the opposite sex were complex and nuanced. Actually – it was pretty simple. I’ll let the picture do the talking.

Brenda is on the right in the red cap.

Brenda is on the right in the red cap.

This 25 year old photo has the clarity of a mud puddle but you can make out that I have cropped bleach blonde hair and am wearing a waist coat over a white kaftan.  All this took place in Sutherland Shire in the  aftermath of  the puberty blues era. To say that my aesthetic was not appreciated would be the understatement of the 1980s. ( Ironically not much was understated during that decade). Yet I was not going to submit to the Billabong label and lie on the beach doused in baby oil to win popularity points. Oh No – I wasn’t selling out my individuality. That would be conforming and to our posse, conforming was the very worst thing one could do. We were down with punk icon Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys accusing our peers of being “chicken shit conformist like your parents”*

Kick it Jello!

Kick it Jello!

Hand painted floral jeans in 1987. I was ahead of my time.

Hand painted floral jeans in 1987. I was ahead of my time.

So here I was an androgynous rebel without a clue who also happened to be doing very well in class. It was a recipe for massive unpopularity.  Whilst the bronzed surfie kids were chanting away to The Angels – ” Am I ever gunna see your face again? No way get f#@ked. F#@k off!”, we were flouncing about with air gladiolus quoting The Smiths. ” A dreaded sunny day, so lets go where we’re happy and I’ll met you at the cemetery gates. Oh Keats and Yates are on your side. But you lose. Because Oscar Wilde is on mine”.*

Morrisey and The Smiths in all their flouncy floral glory. They Rocked!

Morrisey and The Smiths in all their flouncy floral glory. They Rocked!

The irony is that I had never read Keats, Yates or Oscar Wilde. In my defense,  most of those kids headbanging to the Radiators “Give me Head” were still virgins and weren’t singing from experience either.

Our gang would make fun of glam rock bands like Bon Jovi because they had big hair and wore makeup.

Big hair and make up.

Big hair and make up.

Yet I worshipped at the shrine of The Cure and Robert Smith. I wrote “Robert Smith is God*” written multiple times on my pencil case. I managed to squeeze the text  in between the drawings of bats, spider webs and tombstones.  It was truly a work of art.

Bigger hair and more makeup.

Bigger hair and more makeup.

I try to put a positive spin on Teen ‘Abulous by comparing her to the iconic cartoon character Daria but without her deadpan cool. Another major point of difference was that Daria managed to snare boyfriend – a hot, yet sensitive college boy called Tom.

Go Daria!

Go Daria! FTFW!

Not only did Daria land Tom, her bestie’s rocker brother was crushing on her too. Looks like its time to ditch this comparison. Its just not working for me.

Daria got around a bit- unlike Teen Ab.

Daria got around – unlike Teen Abulous

Every blogger worth her salt has posted a humiliating High School Formal photo. Here’s mine.

Brenda is encircled.

Brenda is encircled.

Although I was loving myself stupid in emerald green taffeta, I did not have a date to the School Formal in 1988. I don’t recall actually dancing with boys at the event. Nor did I pick up at Carmens Night Club afterwards. T’was a fitting end to a miserable six years.

Meanwhile at a neighboring high school a gorgeous Eric Stolz look alike was kicking serious academic butt in Physics and Four Unit Maths. You’d think that would be a honey trap for the lovely young ladies of the Shire. Alas teen Dadabulous was experiencing a similar level of rejection as I. It wasn’t his attire or musical taste so much as his penchant for Dungeons and Dragons and coding up his own computer games from scratch that put them off.  Little did they realize that this prodigious behaviour would lead to a lucrative career. As the Bible tells us “the geek shall inherit the earth”.  IT’S YOUR LOSS BIATCHES!!!

Mum and Dadabulous - glammed up ever so slightly.

Mum and Dadabulous – glammed up ever so slightly.

Who were you in High School? Were you my sworn enemy? Can we be friends now?

PS: I’d like to take the opportunity to apologize to my parents for my obnoxiousness and wankery. I do not apologize for the music.

Mumabulous Out

I’ll leave you with some memories of the time when black was the new black.

Siouxsie and the Banshees

Siouxsie and the Banshees

The Damned

The Damned

Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode

New Order

New Order

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg

And Robert again.

And Robert again.

Rachel from the Very Inappropriate Blog http://theviblog.wordpress.com/ wants to play musical crumpets, so who’s missing from this list? Yo Lara – I’ll source some choice vintage Kilby for you.

* Dead Kennedys 1986 from The Bedtime For Democracy album which ROCKS.

* The Smiths 1985 from The Queen Is Dead which like totally ROCKS.

* Not God but his song writing has IMO stood the test of time.


78 thoughts on “Teen Abulous

  1. I graduated in 1988 too! I can relate to so much, but I will never post a picture of me on my blog in formal gown. Ever.

  2. Love the green taffeta number. I had my formal in 88 too. At least you didn’t have a mullet perm in high school, like me. The 80’s were just not kind at all, fashion wise. It’s surprising that anybody managed to have a boyfriend of girlfriend.

    We so would have been friends if we’d gone to same school, you with your Cure fascination and me Carpenters. That totally works, right?

    As for musical crumpet, I’m obviously the wrong person to ask, but look forward to seeing what you come up with.

  3. Oh god where can I begin. There’s not enough space here to explain my musical loves and various creative fashion visions. Ibwas misunderstood and fashion forward. That’s my story anyway. You look awesome in all the photos!!!!!!!

  4. In a sad way I sort of miss the 80s! Yeah… Yeah… Nah! I too had a green taffeta number for my Yr 12 formal and was soooo not pulling! There are many things I could write but then this would be a full blog post in your comments- bad form. Let’s just say I would’ve been too nerdy for your crew I think. Although I did discover The Cure, satin dresses and my beloved Doc Martin boots in uni.

    PS: I would NEVER in the billabong brand and baby oil either- so maybe we would’ve been friends!

  5. THANK YOU for reminding me of Daria! I miss that show. There was an episode where they all jumped in someone’s van and went to the “Alternapalooza” festival – spending the whole trip working out exactly what counted as ‘alternative’ and what didn’t. Nailed the classic teen identity crisis right there. I longed for Daria’s cool nonchalance but alas, all I got was hot try-hard. And I do mean literally hot, because I shifted my all black and denim Melbourne wardrobe to a Brisbane summer when my parents swapped states in 1987! Love your photos 🙂 And yes, Kilby crumpet will be appreciated!

  6. I graduated in 1995 so a few years behind you… I was into Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. When I got to uni I made friends with a third year Nursing student who was so into The Cure. He’d follow them on tour and kick back with them after their shows… He was head of some Aussie fan club too. Dedication. Particularly as it was in the dark ages (pre-internet).

    • Yes – your uni friend was hard core! Did he have the Robert hair do? I tried, oh how I tried but my fine hair just wont stand up like that. Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana are way cool.

      • He didn’t ;o) But he had massive signed and framed posters and guitars too… Nirvana is still awesome. Such a loss.

      • Ha ha Robo mum yet another reason why we are mates! I graduated in 1994 and my holy trinity was Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden! Also loved the Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Gunners and so many more 🙂

  7. I think the ’80’s was a cruel time to be a teen, cos even if you were the height of fashion, was a hard look to pull off – if you look back at the ’70’s or 60’s, it just looks retro cool now…I would did out photos of me but they’re locked away for safety’s sake – viewers safety….

  8. Love this post and love the 80s!!! I can’t say I shared the same music tastes…I was probably more mainstream – not as edgy and cool 🙂 But your memories put a smile on my face – thanks for linking up! Happy Friday 🙂

  9. Great post 🙂 I love all things 80’s. I didn’t share the same musical taste as you did and as for the formal photo I will have to have a scratch around and see if I can find one (although I graduated in 92) thanks for sharing such a great post x

  10. Mr BE gave me a Daria DVD for my birthday 🙂 but unfortunately, until I read this post, I had BLOCKED the memory of wearing WAISTCOATS. O.M.G. Will the shame never end?

    • There are dudes with a certain je ne sais quoi who can rock a waist coat but over a big sleeved kaftan its frankly wrong. What a great gift from Mr BE. He has great taste, cooks like a boss and looks like Chris Martin. I’m down with why you married that one.

  11. HA Brenda you look awesome in your yoga flower child pose!! Very impressed with your music taste. We were the outcasts too – the ‘musos’ at school in orchestra, band, etc, so we embraced it and ‘ironically’ listened to the Pixies and the Dead Kennedys etc (it was the mid 90s by then!!). Long live green and maroon jeans! Denim shirts! Big floral skirts! Hiking boots!

    • I’m sorry. “Listening to The Pixies and DK ironically” doesn’t compute. Computer says No. You’ll have to inform me about what happened in the 90s. I dont remember.

  12. Oh Brenda, I LOVE this post, thank you for sharing your awesome Teenabulous self. As I was only starting primary school in 88 I can’t totally relate to all of this but I totally get the ideologies!

    I remember spending most of primary school trying to fit in and be like everyone else, and then most of high school desperately trying to stand out!

  13. I finished high school in 1987…and I am actually really glad that time has passed! If I could do it all again (don’t think I would want to) but think I would skip the big hair, pink taffeta formal dresses and taking photos to remind me of what I look like!
    FYBF

  14. Ah, the 80s. I was a little younger so, for me, the 80s were hypercolour t-shirts, big denim overalls, Kim Wilde and a Smurfs cassette featuring ‘The Locomotion’ and ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’. And the side ponytail. Oh, how I rocked the side ponytail.

  15. Brenda you’re gorgeous and totally ahead of your time – who’s surprised though?

  16. LOVE love LOVE Daria!

  17. 1987 was the year I was born and I do not remember it with great fondness. However a couple years later I was the trendiest kid around in my happy pants, basketball boots and bomber jacket!
    Found you via fybf.

  18. Damn, I wish I had known you back then! Did you know that Robert Smith was interviewed once saying that his favourite past time was to pick up the phone once in a while just to see if anyone was on the other line? Smash Hits circa 1987?? I can understand your fascination with him.
    Those floral jeans were way ahead of their time!

    • OMG! OMG! You read Smash Hits!!!! It was the best source of crumpet prior to the interwebs. I remember Robert (God) Smith saying how much he loved to bullshit in interviews. I concede he indulged in the rock n roll lifestyle a little too much.

  19. Oh Mumabulous thank you!!! Prior to my grunge obsession I also developed a very healthy addiction to Depeche Mode AND I STILL LISTEN TO THEM!! And as far as I’m concerned “How soon is now” is a very strong contender for song of the century. Fuck I’d love to see Morissey teach today’s emos a thing or two! They think they know about misery? They don’t have a fucking clue 🙂

    • There’s a club if you’d like to go
      you could meet somebody who really loves you
      so you go, and you stand on your own
      and you leave on your own
      and you go home, and you cry
      and you want to die

      • EXACTLY! That is hardcore misery. I want Morrissey to round up all those poxy little try hard emos and just recite his lyrics at them until they crumble. Now that’s my idea of entertainment 🙂
        PS sorry I took so long to read this post – been on a training course for work and have been exhausted.

  20. Mumabulous! You laughed at Bon Jovi. BON JOVI?????

    I have confession to make…..I also wore green taffeta to my formal. Long, disastrous story.

  21. Niiiice taffeta! My yr 12 formal was in 89, I wore electric blue taffeta, and blue mascara to match *finger in mouth gesturing dry reaching*. The 80s were cruel. I ended my school days listening to U2 and *wince* Bon Jovi 🙂

  22. What a great flashback Brenda and you did look gorgeous in that green tafetta . My favourite is the pic of you and dadabulous 🙂

  23. Brenda would you be able to customise some of my jeans if I sent you a pair?

  24. I’m an ’88 graduator too and F*ck Me but my 25th reunion is on Election Day in September- life is cruel like that. We might have been friends- my bunch were the ‘alternatives’ who nightclubbed from underage days in all black. Sometimes with lace and crushed velvet. I once got my hand burnt by James Freud’s cigarette on the nightclub stairs. Heady days.

    • Really? – does your hand still bear the scare. I once saw Brian Canham from Pseudo Echo in Sydney’s QVB building. I yelled out – “there’s Brian Canned Ham”. Daria – I wasn’t.

  25. I graduated high school in 1981 so am a bit older that you. Just a tad *sigh*!! I was a boy crazed teenager and sorry to say I was one of those surfie chicks (a ‘skeg’ they used to be called). Baby oil and a tan were important to me (I will pay for that!) as was some blonde streaks in my hair (the agony of the cap for streaks in those days!!). I think you look awesome in your formal photo and I love the hand painted jeans 😉

    • Yes I am all too familiar with the word skeg. Despite the fact that you were undoubtedly hot and popular we can still be friends. Its ironic that I live by the beach nowadays.

  26. Those photos are GOLD – I’ve got a few shockers myself! Those jeans are truly awesome. I wonder if you ever see your old school mates? I rocked coloured jeans, dark green Doc Martins but never got into black 🙂

    • There’s three chicks from this era who I still see quite regularly but I am not mentioning names to protect the guilty. I’m happy to have left the black back in the 80s – I love nothing more than a splash of color these days. My soul was never dark enough to be a true Gothic. 😉

  27. We totes would have been friends at high school Mumabs. Kx

    • Nah we wouldn’t. We would have come to blows over who was going to marry Eric Stolz. This differs greatly to the situation in 2013 where we can fight over Damien Lewis.

  28. As a fellow graduate of 1988, I am forever thankful that the the unofficial soundtrack to our graduation year (at least in Townsville anyway) was INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart”. Heck, what if our song had been something god awful like Vitamin C’s “Friends Forever”?

    Although it is 25 years too late, you looked cool in green, even better in the waistcoat and, like Mary Stuart Masterson in “Some Kind of Wonderful”, you got the guy in the end. Things have turned out much better for you than poor Morrissey.

    • Oh Ed – why could you not have attended Kirrawee High School. You would have loved our unofficial anthem – ” Am I ever gonna see this school again – No way get f%&Ked, f^%k off!”. In truth I didnt actually get the guy until 15 years later. Dadabs and I grew up 10 minutes apart but met through RSVP in 2004. Morrissey is still cool.

    • INXS was a good call for your graduation soundtrack, but I think MY year’s grad song, Hunters & Collectors “Throw Your Arms Around Me”, is slightly more likely to achieve 100% hysterical sobbing amongst the graduating class…

  29. I was a child of the beginning of the technology age, and MSN chat was the place to be. I refused to tell people my login and much preferred to talk to people I didn’t know. I was definitely not in the cool crowd, and often turned my nose up at their sucking up to the teacher. I was definitely a rebel without a cause, but growing up in a small country town I stuck out like a sore thumb.

  30. I was one step ahead of you come formal time: my mum organised for her boss’ son to be my date. Twice.

  31. I can’t stop laughing at the Brian Canned Ham comment. Rahahahaha.
    I was such a dag I wore a green taffeta number well after the 80’s and numerous other shock frocks. Yikes.

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