If you like some humorous comments on offbeat subjects, you should read Clay Thompson’s column in the Arizona Republic. For those of you who don’t want to spring for a hard copy, Clay’s column is also online.
One of Clay’s recent columns answered a question for me that I have been wondering about for years. I remember as a kid in the 50s how teenage girls had a style of wearing a dog collar around their ankle. I have asked people over time what that was about but always received a quizzical look. Recently, it was revealed in Clay’s column that when a girl wore the collar on her LEFT ankle, it indicated she was going steady. If it was on her RIGHT ankle, it meant she wasn’t going steady. Sound strange? Remember, it was an era of petticoats, sock hops, padded bras, girdles, and girls washing their hair with bath soap.
At this moment, if you are young enough, many of you are probably asking, "What the hell is ‘going steady?’" Going steady happened when a boy and girl THOUGHT they were in love as teenagers and made a pact that they wouldn’t date anyone else. Of course, the fickle nature of youth would eventually kick in and the couple would break up but, it was a pretty good deal for a while as it guaranteed both members a date on a Saturday night. Unfortunately, occasionally the couple would become a bit too serious and another baby boomer would enter the world courtesy of a hot night in the back seat of a ‘51 Ford.
Having never had kids of my own (I think), I’m not sure what teenagers do now other than what I see from a distance. For example, it doesn’t look like going steady or dating is a big deal anymore. In the ‘50s, a boy would nervously call a girl in the hopes of obtaining a precious date for a Saturday night. That few moments between nervously asking the big question and waiting for the answer was agony! What if she said "No!"? Even worse, what if she said, "Gee, I really like ya a lot but Ralph already asked me out." I think "I like ya a lot" was more devastating to hear than "No." It meant "Not in your wildest dreams are you ever going to touch me."
I’ve noticed in recent years that teenage boys and girls run in groups. I’ve seen mobs of them at places like Paradise Valley Mall and have noticed that several malls in recent years have imposed restrictions on having kids "hangin’ out." The girls dress sloppy like the boys and receive the same minimal respect from their peers. That’s a lot different from my teenage days when we put girls on a pedestal. Well, some girls anyway!
It’s more proof of how the world has changed. Today kids have iPods which never leave their ears, we had 45 rpm records. We had gas stations with attendants and "ding-ding" bells and restrooms that had a purple neon light under the toilet seat to give the illusion it was sanitizing. Today you pump your own at Circle K. We had girls with dog collars on their ankles, today they actually put collars on dogs. Imagine that!
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