So now that school’s started and most of the little beasties are clear of Walmart or Staples or wherever and I’m not in danger of tripping over little limbs (or strangling some squawking brat), I can safely indulge in my fall ritual—stocking up on school supplies!
No, I’m not a student, but I have a longstanding love of paper, pens, folders, etc. I’d always felt a giddy sense of anticipation while shopping for this stuff every fall, and the giddiness has followed me into adulthood. To this day, as I stand in the aisle weighing the benefits of liquid vs. stick glue, I can summon the bygone feelings of school dances, sleepovers and float-building committees; of begging my dad for use of the car to attend the first home football game (read: actually skipping the game and instead cruising all 1.5 miles of our main street over and over at 25mph); of tasting the first crisp wisp of fall on my tongue and carefully selecting that perfect first-day-of-school outfit. Even after entering high school and becoming the punk I am today, school-supply shopping was still a guilty pleasure.
We didn’t have iPods back then; we walked around campus with our trusty Walkmans hooked to our belts. Not a single student had a cell phone—or a computer, for that matter. And nearly everyone, boys and girls, took Typing 101, which featured (gasp!) actual typewriters. And yes, I painted my nails with the Whiteout. Often.
(It was only the hardcore geeks who took the one and only computer course available. The monitors were about 9 inches; green type on black backgrounds. I got a Brother WP1 Word Processor my sophomore year; the “screen” allowed you to see three whole lines of type and you saved your work on expensive little disks that held 240KB. I was the total shit!)
My annual trek got me thinking about some of my fave must-have school supplies that are no longer de rigueur among the Bieber-Twilight set (or hell, not even available anymore). So please indulge me while I take a visual stroll down memory lane to revisit some of my favorite fall buys.
No. 2 Pencils
The be-all-end-all of school supplies. I never did learn the importance of No. 2 versus, say…No. 1 or 3 pencils. I just knew I had to have them. And woe be the student who bought the wrong kind. Ridicule!
Ah, Mead. You knew what students wanted. My Trapper Keeper had some swirly, sparkly cosmos scene, and I usually managed to keep everything within tightly organized. For about 3 weeks.
Texas Instruments Calculator
I had some deluxe jobby with triple the number of buttons as other calculators. Because obviously, the more buttons, the more you learn. I still have my calculator, actually (damn, those things were built to last!), and just like back in school, I still only use the plus, minus, divide and percent buttons.
Yeah, I usually had a lovely Papermate Pink Pearl as well, but I preferred the standard erasers that fit on the ends of pencils. For ease of chewing during tests, of course.
Remember these? If you were a chick growing up in the ’80s, you likely wore them all over your shoes, in your hair, fashioned into necklaces and bracelets, etc. During sixth through eighth grades, I would make a shit-ton over the summer and give them to my BFFs on the first day of school.
Well duh. One (or several) for every subject. I had one teacher who would go ballistic if his classroom floor was littered with the little bits of paper that flew like confetti when you tore sheets out of the book. (It was about that time I switched to the uber-sophisticated Composition notebooks. Nothing says “sophistication” like faux marbling. Nothing.)
It’s ink! That you can erase!!! The technology, it boggled.
SUPER popular when I was a young’un. They usually smelled like shit, lost their scent in about an hour and were a bitch to remove from all the ill-advised places you stuck them throughout the year (my elementary-school principal dedicated an hour on the last day of classes specifically for the task of removing stickers from our desks. Maybe that qualifies as janitorial experience if this whole book-editing thing doesn’t pan out).
Of course I had my beloved no. 2s, but push-up pencils were way too much fun. In cases of extreme boredom, I’d remove the top piece of lead-tipped plastic, push it back through the end of the pencil to reveal the next tip, then repeat. Over and over and over. It was always such a tragedy if the end cap broke and you lost all your lead.
I think I still have scars from these things. And I’m sure they’d be confiscated as weapons at most schools these days.
I still use them. This is my current one. :)