1985: Junior

1985: Junior
1985: Junior

The first half of my junior year started out pretty well -- it was still 1984 and "Purple Rain" was big, big, BIG. No lie. It was The Year of Prince, thanks to the hit album and movie that came out during the summer. (I was 15 at the time and because the movie was rated "R", opening day became a family affair -- my mom, sister, aunt, and cousin were all by my side -- imagine my surprise when I see Prince getting it on with Apollonia in the middle of the film. I slowly started to sink into my seat as the love scene played on....I was horrified. But what did I expect? It was Prince! I should've known better.) It was all about the Purple One & Co. for me during that year: The Time, Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, Sheila E, The Family, et al. My best friend Lane and I were completely immersed in the Minneapolis sound and between the two of us we owned every single album that was available from all those groups. And purple? Let me tell you: The shirt you see me wearing above is purple with red stripes. It was the 80's. Prince was big. It was okay to wear those colors together, believe it or not. You saw it EVERYWHERE. (Just had to get that out of the way.)

Anyway, as I mentioned, the first half of my school year went rather smoothly. It was during the second half where things went downhill. 1985 to me has always been my Hell Year. Don't know what it was, but everything went out of whack for me. First of all, with my mother and father still separated and Dad living in an apartment nearby, I began to test Mom's boundaries. Whenever we were in the same room we argued like it was going out of style. I was a little punk! Talking back to my mama, what was I thinking? Looking back, I see that it was your garden-variety, typical teenage stuff -- I had just turned 16 and I was rebelling against authority. I got my first two speeding tickets within a day of each other. I also spent two weeks in in-house suspension for a now-famous incident that I'd rather not talk about. Suddenly, I found myself hanging out with a different crowd. More partying, drinking, smoking, you name it. I'm not going to go into details, as it's pretty embarrassing for me to re-live it, but 1985 was definitely a turning point in my high school career. I was not myself.

Safe to say, I survived my year-long ordeal. More importantly, Mom and I became even closer after it all. We look back on my 16th year as a "phase" I was going through and will laugh about it from time to time. (At least I do.)

Ugh. Just thinking about all the mistakes I made during my junior year makes me sick to my stomach. But you know, I'm sure that I'm making mountains out of molehills. Being a teenager entitles you to be overly dramatic about the tiniest of details. And to those who I felt I had wronged or hurt during that year, I'm sure that it wasn't such a big deal to them as I've made it out to be in my mind. To quote a former classmate who got in touch with me several years ago: "We were kids back then. Kids do stupid things."

I dated my first long-term girlfriend during this year. Her name was Kelle, a senior, and we dated for two months. Two whole months seemed like FOREVER back then. She was cute, sweet, and adorable and I was an idiot for breaking up with her. One of the many, many stupid things I did that year.

Typical quotes from classmates who signed my yearbook:

"Well, can you believe we're almost SENIORS - Awesome!! You have an awesome talent in art and I know one day you'll be a famous cartoonist - you better remember me!!" (from a girl)

"Happening you head? It's definitely been a raise hell year. Even though we never really had the chance to do any real partying together, I'm sure we can pick up the slack this summer." (from a guy)

For the Current Events section in the back of my 1985 yearbook, they had three sections:

Red Dawn
Passage to India
Killing Fields
Beverly Hills Cop
The Breakfast Club
Purple Rain
Places in the Heart
Bachelor Party

Billy Idol
Hank Williams Jr.
Billy Joel
Pointer Sisters
Lionel Richie
Billy Ocean
REO Speedwagon
Julian Lennon
Phil Collins
Hall and Oates
Bandaid [sic]

Break Dancing
The Wave
Neon Clothes
Jean Styles
Trail Skate (someone from the Seniors plastered the school with stickers from this roller skating place at Stone Mountain Park -- hard to explain)
Kroger (stickers, of course -- the Juniors response to the Trail Skate stickers)
Polo Cologne
Costume Jewelry
Tivial Pursuit
The Spa
Tanning Booths

Items of note: I saw Madonna in concert in '85 with a bunch of friends who all dressed up like Madonna-wannabe's. The opening act? The Beastie Boys. They were amazing. I also saw Prince during his big Purple Rain tour. I never had seen so much purple in all my life. Musically, I branched out and started listening to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Rush, etc. Nowadays they call it "Classic Rock." Back then, it was just "Rock." Whatever. It was good and I liked it.


  1. Ward, this is hilarious! It's so interesting to read about what you were like then. 1985 is a bit of a blur for me (because I am so much younger than you...haha), but I do remember the entire family wearing neon clothes and going to the mall was a big, big deal. My brother's favorite movie was Red dawn...and mine was labyrinth. Telling, isn't it?

  2. Wasn't "Red Dawn" just one of many 80's films in which Paul Winfield gets blown away for just walking into a situation trying to either be rational (see "The Terminator") or friendly (see "Red Dawn") or...uhm, well, in "Star Trek 2 Wrath of Khan" he kills himself, so that kinda doesn't count, does it? Ah, to heck with it!

  3. Waitaminute; Paul Winfield wasn't IN "Red Dawn," was he? Ah, nuts! Well, he got killed in the other two movies, didn't he?

  4. that sucks about your parents.
    you were probably hormonal + your dad living in an apt was terrible for your emotional development. that's an amazing year!