8th Grade – The Final Frontier

While riding to the IMAX Theater to see the new 3D Star Trek movie it all came rushing back. The year was 1966 and her name was Charlotte. We were in the 8th grade. She sat to the right and two rows up. She swung around to face me but it was some time before I noticed she was mouthing a silent question. We all turned 13 that year and the girls began wearing nylons – weapons of mass destruction. I tried not to look at Charlotte’s as she silently mouthed the question 3 times before I finally heard her: “Did you watch Star Trek last night?”

In 1966, 8th grade girls were made-up meticulously, with permed hair, cotton fitted dresses, and dastardly nylons. In our fertile 13 year old minds, 8th grade girls fully-dressed looked like the college girls in Beach Blanket Bingo. But it was all about to change.

The years between ’66 and ’69 changed everything for our generation. Star Trek came and went. Older kids were dying in some place called Viet Nam. Riots. Assassinations. Demonstrations. Strange exciting psychedelic rock music. And the 8th grade girls had boldly gone where none of us had dared. Ironed-straight hair, dark eyeliner, projecting seriousness. In High School, the 8th grade girls we fell in love with, looked like the women from Rigel 7 on Star Trek. We on the other hand with our regular boy cuts had become uninteresting to those exotic alien creatures whose nylons had given way to different but no less deadly weapons of mass destruction. Those years went by in a flash but I’ll never forget the innocence, the boldly-going, and the girls from Rigel 7.

You’ll never have girl friends like the ones you almost had in 8th grade.