Sunday, November 28, 1999

Dating & Spelling In High School

As my clothing choices prove, I know absolutely nothing and care even less about fashion, but I do feel sorry for anyone who tries to stay trendy. By definition, you're never going to catch up. And when you see some supermodel in a fabulous new outfit, you just have to know it will never look that good on you.

This rule, of course, does not apply to girls in their late teens, who are destined to get swept up in the popular tide. We were out to dinner with another couple recently on what turned out to be some high school's homecoming weekend. The restaurant was swarming with dozens of late teen couples, all charging dinner to their parents' credit cards.

Every one of the girls looked like Ally McBeal, all wearing the same dress (my wife pointed out that it wasn't really the exact same dress, or they would have died when they saw each other, but trust me, it was). Worse, they all had the same Calista Flockhart body. Okay, not quite that bony thin, but let's say they were so thin that when one of them swallowed an olive she looked suddenly pregnant.

What intrigued me even more was the boys who were with them. Each and every boy had the same, short, almost-crew haircut. This is exactly the opposite of how we all looked when we were their age. Of course, those were the, "These kids today, with their rock and roll, and their dungarees, and their hair down to their shoulders so you can't tell if they're a boy or a girl" days, and we did it mostly to annoy Mom and Dad. I suppose now they get that buzz cut thinking it will annoy us, but frankly, I found it pretty easy to accept the clean cut look.

On their face was a look that every American boy would recognize, the look that said, "I am completely clueless in how to handle this social occasion and it's obvious to me that the girls know something they're not telling us." Then they immediately broke off into a boys-only circle to talk football and recharge their confidence.

Not every high schooler looks and acts this way, of course.

Take the story of Jamie Schoonover, a 15-year-old high school freshman from Baltimore who was suspended from school last month for "casting a spell on another student." You see, Jamie claims to be a practicing witch, just like her mother, Colleen Harper.

Well, Jamie's not exactly like Mom, because Mom used to be Dad. That's right. Colleen Harper used to be a man, and is Jamie's biological father, but has since had a sex change operation to become her mother. There is a technical name for this kind of family setup. In the nomenclature of pop psychology, it's called, "a Jerry Springer show waiting to happen."

What's most shocking about this story is that the principal of the school actually wrote down that Jamie was suspended for casting a spell.

Hello? This is an educator? How about handling it a little more logically -- perhaps pointing out to the offended student that there is no such thing as witchcraft and that no one can cast a spell on anyone else? This is the most ridiculous reaction an adult has had to a witch since Gladys Kravitz on "Bewitched"!

While this was quite a shock to the kid on whom the "spell" was cast, it couldn't have been a happy day for Jamie, either. She probably went home all depressed, gave herself a nice buzzcut hairdo, and spent the evening crying in the arms of her father -- who was wearing the family's Ally McBeal dress at the time.