Idea Days

Many years ago, when I was in the 6th grade, I started a trend. I was in the 6th grade. Which would make me about 12. That would make the year 1986.

Our southern middle school was always coming up with “Idea Days”. These days were designed to help make kids come together as one. (It was either that, or to amuse the teachers. I never figured it out.) For example, there may have been “Wear Purple Day” or “Famous Person Day”. Idea Days were invented to keep the playing field level. In reality they made the playing field more like a minefield. Kids all throughout the school were being nailed to the wall and stuck to the ceiling with words like “Loser” and “Freak” and “What were you thinking, Retard?”

Given I answered to those words everyday, I never partook in any Idea Days. That is, up until Twin Day. Twin Day was the day where you were to grab a friend and dress alike. I approached Kerry just after second period and asked her if she wanted to join me as my twin on Twin Day. She agreed and the creative brain wheels were thrust into motion.

But time was of the essence! And I pretty much always wait to the last minute to hop onto any bandwagon. (It’s best to make sure you’re not its only passenger.) I rarely give myself time to plan. I’m just not a planner. I design Halloween costumes the day of. I come up with logos while I’m on the subway. I write posts the moment I get up in the morning, usually without any idea as to what I’m going to say. (Take right now, for example. I have no idea where it is I’ll be taking you. You have no idea where it is I’m taking you. Isn’t it fun? Don’t you feel dirty?)

First, we had to quickly figure out what it was we owned that was similar. Knowing full well our parents wouldn’t agree to invest in our endeavor, we knew we had to use existing apparel. Easy. We had the same pink and white striped shorts made by Esprit. (Actually, I think every girl back then had the same pink and white striped shorts made by Esprit.) But it was the dead of winter, who could possibly be dumb enough to wear shorts to school in the dead of winter?

Next up, came our Jon Bon Jovi T-shirts from the “WE CAME, WE SAW, WE KICKED YOUR ASS” tour. (Incidentally, I would have asked Caryn to join us as well, but her shirt was destroyed by her mother who made her change it to read “WE CAME WE SAW WE KICKED YOUR A88” using a bottle of White Out. Poor girl. I imagine she had to go over it several times given how diluted it was from the tears.) But Kerry and my parents were heathens so our t-shrits remained in tact.

And it absolutely had to have pink socks. Pink socks to match the pink and white striped shorts made my Esprit. I think I actually purchased said pink socks the same day I purchased the pink and white shorts made by Esprit.

Kerry had the pink socks, too. We added the pink socks to the ensemble, the same pink socks, which, if pulled all the way up, would reach one’s thigh. At least our shins and feet would be warm.

There is myth about the south and its winters. Some might say that wintertime in North Carolina isn’t cold. I might say that those people are slightly mad. While it doesn’t get nearly as cold as it does up north, it still gets cold. Sometimes, it even snows. Yes, it snows. And then they shut the southern world down.

On the eve of Twin Day, we tried on our outfits after school. That’s when Kerry decided there was a problem.

You know, I wonder if we’ll be too cold. I mean, I like the shorts and the pink shocks and all, but I just think we’ll be cold.

I hadn’t thought about that.

Oh. Yeah. Good point. You think people will make fun of us for wearing shorts in the dead of winter? I mean, Adam, from down the street does it every day. He wears them to the bus stop and I always think, ‘man, he must be cold.’

Yeah. They’re going to make fun of us.

I heard the wheels kick on again. What to do now? Everything was falling apart right before my eyes. And then I had an idea.

Growing up as a skier has its benefits. Besides the number of Dickie Turtle Necks I was forced to wear throughout childhood, I was also forced to wear long underwear. All the time. I wore long underwear to school. I wore it skiing, sledding, to bed, camping, in the van, in the station wagon, at grandma’s house. My brothers and I wore long underwear pretty much everywhere. We wore underwhere everywear. And it always smelled like cedar. And they were usually only new for my oldest brother, Rob.


I screamed this a bit too excitedly. It’s rare someone gets excited over long underwear. But I was excited.

In the end, Kerry and I wore long underwear under pink and white striped shorts made by Esprit. The long underwear was then tucked into pink socks. We wore black converse on our feet. We wore them to accentuate the Bon Jovi, “WE CAME, WE SAW, WE KICKED YOUR ASS” tour t-shirt (which was black as well.) Under the t-shirt came some more long underwear. We looked like absolutely nothing but weird. We did pull of weird well. And if that wasn’t strange enough, we topped the outfit with a cherry by putting our into two pigtails.

And we went to school. And everyone stared.

What is it you’re supposed to be? Exactly?

Twins. Ummm like, no dur.

Prior Twin Day, I hadn’t ever seen anyone wear long underwear under much of anything (including ripped jeans which became like all the rage a few years later). That said, I fueled the nation’s hippies and enabled folks to wear shorts all year round. I started a fad for hippies everywhere. I started the long underwear fad. I was that cool.

I have told this story numerous times to Toby. Well, the second, third and fourth time was more like a summary. And each time he sort of looks at me funny. And he’ll either laugh or shake his head and continue with whatever it was he was doing before the interruption.

Remember the time I invented that fad of wearing long underwear under one’s clothing? I never got credit for that.

Last night, Toby looked up from his computer and instead of looking right back down again by screwing his head back in place with a shake, it looked as if he was finally going to give me the recognition I have always deserved. For a split second, I was elated.

You know, usually when people have delusions of grandeur at least it’s something good.

Maybe I should telling people about the time I came up with that dance.


  1. What about long underwear under flannel shirts? Did you invent that? And grunge music?

    I invented purple and orange. Together. No really. I did.


  2. I was the first girl in my class to have jelly shoes. Then they all ripped me. I was so pissed.


  3. This was LONG before grunge music. So, yes. Safe to say I invented that, too. The Howley family pretty much invented everything long underwear and Dickies (the half-assed turtle neck things, not the cool hipster pants.) And the color brown. We totally made brown cool.


  4. Speaking of Jelly Shoes, did anyone ever have a pair that didn’t tear their feet apart? I, myself, did not. Then again, we got most of our clothing from Hills. So maybe the designer Jellies were different. (Designer Jellies. If that isn’t ever an oxymoron.)


  5. Yes, Mihow, you really should tell us all about the dance. Was it an Elaine dance?


  6. I seem to remember my boxer shorts somehow having a role in all of that as well. Maybe that was before you cooled it up with the pink and white. Mine had hearts on them I think :)


  7. I had to sneak jelly shoes on the bus and change into them because my mom said i would get blisters and wouldn’t allow me to wear them to school…and then when i DID get blisters, I was glad I had that second pair of shoes conveniently with me.


  8. Boxer shorts? Are you saying I might remember this glorious day incorrectly? But oddly, I seem to remember maybe having boxer shorts beneath it all. I may have to email Kerry now.
    The dance is called “Ride the Bike”. It was created by three of us. However, it gave me the idea to come up with a series of dances where one would merely reenact a daily activity such as mopping the floor or driving the car, feeding the cat, or washing the clothes. It was perfect for those of us who can’t dance but have some rhythm. Missy will remember them all, I think. One time, we went out dancing till dawn and the entire room was “walking the dog’ and ‘mowing the lawn’ Granted, there were only about 10 of us at the club that night, but still. It was the entire room.

    In the end, you can have all my famed inventions but you have to leave me brown.


  9. Did you come up with the Sprinkler?

    Going Shopping?

    Stirring Soup?


  10. O.K. This just in from Kerry:
    “Holy shit you have a good memory!!! I didn’t remember it until you started talking about the long underwear. Wasn’t our picture in the yearbook with that outfit on? See…proof for your hubby :) You made my day, I was in such a foul mood before reading your email – thanks. Nothing like black tees and long underwear to freak the “preppies” out. Better yet, remember when we all ripped up our Forenza tee shirts from The Limited and wrote Punk rules – Preps suck on them. Put that one down in the Trendsetters almanac.”


  11. We offered cupcakes. My new shirt says “Cupcakes rule – Jon sucks” and I’m giving one to your girl.


  12. You guys did offer, but i was full of wine and food, and too comfortable to leave the house and brave the cold streets.


  13. The dance my friend James showed me once goes like this:

    Big fish, little fish, cardboard box, bowl, snake, rah rah rah. (that’s right, there are hand movements that go along with it, wish I could demonstrate.. bigfish littlefish is like hands wide apart, hands close together… cardboard box is like making the madonna “vogue” motion, bowl is bringing your hands together in a symmetrical scoop-like movement, snake – bendy snake movements with hands, and rah rah rah is .. left hand to right elbow, right hand is a fist pointing up, and vice versa). I don’t think that explains it very well. But it’s FUN!


  14. When I was in elementary school, I was homeschooled, and I took classes at this church with a whole other group of homeschooled kids. (Rather defeats the point of homeschooling, I know.)

    This was a pretty conservative bunch, as you might imagine, but once when I was eight they announced we would have a costume day. I was so excited because I had just gotten this super cool genie costume. Mind you, it was designed for little kids, so there was no skin showing anywhere.

    Well, my mother wouldn’t let me wear it, because she was worried I might make the eight-year-old boys think I was the type to do belly dances. I was crushed. So I can totally relate to your friend’s A88 shirt.


  15. Kater, I love you. That was the best thing I read all week. Jaia, are you the type to belly dances? Because belly dances are hot. I think you should wear it now, after all these years. It’s time to fill that void.

    You know, I have to admit, Toby and I just spent about 15 minutes laughing our A88s off regarding the Bon Jovi Tshirt. I don’t think I will ever forget that. It was just too funny.


  16. Actually, I never knew what a thriving community the belly dancers have, until a friend and I went to this festival thing in a local park to see one of her coworkers perform. We missed her dance, but the whole thing was kinda, y’know, groovy. Lots of hippies, boobies, and people who danced with big swords on their heads. What more could I have hoped for?


  17. Ahhh the sweet sweet 80’s. It’s ok Mihow. Most genius ideas are not linked to the originator. Like that whole parachute pants craze. My idea.


  18. Flipping up your polo collar? Me.

    I have to say being a Raleigh, NC resident the winters down here are certainly not cold. Not cold at all. It’s 60 today! I have worn my winter coat once. You can’t even wear a wool sweater down here or you will burn up. I am used to Pittsburgh and Milwaukee winters though. NC winters are a breeze!


  19. Yes, but it does get cold, right? Or are you one of those people who runs around telling people that San Francisco has “the best weather”. Because, holy crap, that is just not true. And it’s not warm. It’s confusing, san Francisco. And NC does get cold, sir Scott.



  20. I love you it sounds strange buts it’s tru


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