Saturday, January 22, 2005


When I was a pre-teen, we girls had a thing we used to do called "Slam Books." What they were was notebooks (they had to be spiral) where you would write on the top of each page a question. Then, you'd pass the books around to your friends, really to any girl in the class who would want to write in it, and they would answer each question. It would be things like "Who do you like" and "Does he know you like him" and "What's your favorite color?" On the cover, if you were really creative, you would cut cool pictures and phrases out of your sister's magazines and tape them all over the cover (it had to be the shiny tape). The more cool phrases you had, the better. Advertising equals cool. It was sort of like a ransom note gone teen.

Boys were sort of allowed to write in them, if they were the "right boys." But for the most part, it was a secret way to find out more information about your friends and possibly blackmail them in the future about the "boy they like". I recall being brutally (to myself) honest and putting the names of the boys I had crushes on, risking them finding out, I guess cause I half wanted them to know.

There are emails that are quite popular going around that remind me of Slam Books. You know the ones, they have the same kinds of questions and you're supposed to forward the completed email to all of your address book. I have one sitting in my inbox right now, even with my aversion to spam and chain email and all those sorts of things being well known by my friends. I don't really mind one of these Slam E-mails because I usually just answer the questions and send it back to only the person who sent it to me. I just don't like to pass them around to a bunch of people who didn't ask-- if they want to know whether I like chocolate or vanilla better, they should ask me. I'm not just giving this info out for free, you know.

One thing I was remembering this morning at 5:00 when I did my current pregnancy "wake up with pain in hip and can't go back to sleep" trend was how I used to like to put the phrase that used to be part of a Virginia Slims ad campaign on my Slam covers: "You've Come a Long Way Baby." Virginia Slims quite cleverly used the historic tie between smoking & feminism to imply that smoking their cigarettes was a path to girl-power. You might remember this campaign if you're as ancient as I am. They would have cute women in old-fashioned clothing getting in trouble for smoking, usually with some fat old policeman with handlebar mustaches looking on disapprovingly. Or they'd be loaded down with laundry, or show the uncomfortable corsets women had to wear. Some sort of discomfort that used to be associated with women would be featured in a small, sepia colored inset photo. Then they'd show the liberated modern woman happily holding her "slim"* cigarette with no fear, smiling smugly cause she's "come a long way."

I liked the idea of being an independent, liberated woman, even way back before I had hit puberty. Girls could do anything they wanted to do. So I would include this phrase on my notebooks. People often looked at me, puzzled, and said "Do you smoke?" So quite clearly, the idea of "coming a long way" was, for many, firmly tied to that cigarette. I figured I could divorce its commercial meaning and still keep the liberated woman part of the phrase. Even though back then all I really had to look forward to was going a long way in my future. I had big plans, and they didn't involve smoking.

I have, in fact, come a long way, from a stringy-haired, freckled poor kid who secretly wanted the boy I liked to find out about it and declare his undying love back for me to a woman who has a soul mate who regularly declares his undying love for me, and it's not a secret at all. I have two university degrees of which I am very proud, and will get the third before this year is out darn it. I can bring home the bacon, but if you ask me to fry it up, I'll probably get a little woozy cause the twins-to-be-named-soon don't like bacon. I live in a great little "nest" of a home and have great friends and family.

It's a long way from there to here. And I'll tell you a secret that isn't ever asked in the Slam Books or E-mail Slams. I'm loving every single minute of it.

*Another catch-- the cigarettes imply you'll be skinnier if you smoke them too... see. They're clever, these tobacco folks.

Also posted at Kim Procrastinates

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