Post 69 — Smells Like Teen Spirit (Part 1)

Kathy poses for the camera.

Kathy poses for the camera.

“The girls are all fine, still fighting and being adolescent but I hope they will outgrow it. We have had an addition to the family TV watching; Ken D., Kathy’s boyfriend. He is fifteen and a nice boy. I guess once Kathy realized we would behave ourselves and not embarrass her, she started to invite him over here. Actually we are quite a nice couple. I wonder how long it will be before Kathy and Carolyn realize it. Carolyn wants so desperately to be “cool” but hasn’t quite managed it. She is coming along, but we are a big trial to her. “

Jean

The move into town seemed to cross the line of demarcation between the sweetness of childhood and the raging hormones of adolescence. Kathy and Carolyn had both become teenagers while the family lived in Tafuna, but they started acting like them once they were in the big city. Back in the states, rock n’ roll was everywhere and the music exploded across the ocean so quickly that even the smallest trickle down to Samoa gave a new soundtrack to the lives of the teenagers on the island. The Coconut Hit Parade was a local radio program that stayed fairly current with the rock n’roll sound back home, and the island kids combed the stores for that rare shipment of records that might show up and be shelved between the papayas and powdered milk.

Kathy had been sent into to town to pick up a few items for dinner, and as she slouched through the store, she happened to notice a milk crate filled with records in the corner of B. F. Kneubel’s, a store that sold just about anything that came in on a boat.  She casually flipped through the pile of albums, not because she was particularly interested in them but because the longer she stayed away, the higher the odds were that Carolyn would have to peel the potatoes.

Halway through the stack, she paused and gasped, and then looked around quickly to see if anyone was within grabbing distance. Sandwiched between Great Samoan Siva Songs and The Royal Tahitians Sing Minoi Minoi Minoi was a brand new copy of the Beach Boys Summer Days. Although the album was a year old in the states, finding it here felt like she had just been invited to a party at Capitol Records. She charged the prize to her family’s account and floated home, blissfully unconcerned that she would be babysitting for the next month to pay it off.

“Next weekend Kathy is having a party. These are very large noisy affairs, I am told. With a band and something like a hundred kids. The house will be able to take it; I hope I can!

Jean

“Friday night was the hottest night of the year. It was absolutely still and terribly humid. Unfortunately, that was the night Kathy had picked for her “little party”! She’s gone to quite a few teenage bashes since she joined the “in group” and has bugged us to let her give one. I’ve been using the convenient excuse, “well, if we had a bigger house . . .,” but now that we’ve got the much, much bigger house, we ran out of excuses. It wasn’t the idea of the party that bugged us so much as the extent of it. It seems like a teen brawl isn’t complete here without a rock and roll band and 100 or so screaming participants. So that’s what we ended up with. My God, the noise! These rock and roll groups all use amplifiers on their electric guitars and they have one setting —LOUD. The party group was made up of about 50-50 Samoan and palagi teen agers from the high schools. The noise was unbelievable even though the group was pretty well behaved. What got us was the sloppiness. We had several hundred cupcakes and about 30 gallons of Kool Aid, all of which was consumed, except the stuff that got on the floor or got ground into the mats. I don’t think any of these kids ever picked anything up in their lives. They spilled Kool Aid, dropped cupcakes, got gum on their shoes, and heel marks on the walls, since no teenager can stand on two feet. The only way they can stand is to perch on one leg like a flamingo and rub the other foot on the wall behind them. Kathy was thrilled with the turnout, and the crazy kids danced all night despite the heat. Jean and I played cards with another couple in the kitchen and we could feel the floor swaying with the fruggin’ and the jerking or whatever the hell they call what they do. Now that Kathy has fulfilled her social obligations, we can all rest easy for a awhile. “

Larry

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