When I was 11 I was obsessed with The Babysitter’s Club. I remember being in an English lesson and being asked to give an adjective (everyone was). The word I chose was sophisticated. It was the word I had been choosing all the time and my teacher knew it was coming before I started saying it. I wanted more than anything to be sophisticated because Stacy from The Babysitter’s Club was diabetic and sophisticated. And at the age of 11 I wanted to be both so very badly.
Of course the desire to be diabetic died as soon as I realised exactly what it was – according to The Babysitter’s Club it just meant Stacy was really thin and had to give herself daily injections. I couldn’t care less about my weight but the injection thing didn’t bother me at all. However wanting to be sophisticated? Yeah, I still want that though I am pretty sure I won’t ever achieve it.
When I think back I am astonished by the fact that Stacy was 11 years old and the epitome of my personality-based desires. Of course with hindsight I’m pretty sure I should have been lusting after Dawn. After all Dawn was the reason I got my ears pierced again. She had two piercings on each ear and would wear four different earrings. How cool was that? Looking back, Stacy’s cool was very, very normal and as an 11 year old wanting to be very, very normal was everything (but with added diabetes).
How times have changed. Like the title of this post says, I wear safety pins in my ears now. I wanted to wear real ones but my Mum forbade me, so I bought a pair of actual earrings that look like safety pins. In a very fetching rose gold. Even in rose gold Stacy would not wear safety pins in her ears. Dawn might, but not Stacy. Did Stacy even have her ears pierced? Probably not, as I said she was boring and fit so neatly into a box. But I loved her because she was cool and pretty and sophisticated.
I soon stopped reading The Babysitter’s Club because, even at age 11, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that an adult would never hire me to look after their under-five. I wasn’t trusted to look after my own younger sister at that age, let alone a stranger’s child. Plus I grew up just when danger started lurking behind every corner and in ever home – as if my parents would let me go into a stranger’s house. That was also the time that I discovered Harry Potter and after that almost everything paled in comparison. But wanting to be sophisticated was something that never left me, even though I want to be a witch more. My definition of the word mean’s ‘in control’. A sophisticated person isn’t ever surprised, doesn’t get angry at slow people on public transport, and doesn’t believe that because something comes back in fashion it’s now suddenly a good thing.
This isn’t me which makes me think that my description is still wrong. Or, and I think this or is right, I am not a sophisticated person and need to let go of this particular ambition. I wear safety pin earrings, live in leggings and love my Toms. I love plaits, regularly have my hair in pigtails, and think that double denim is horrific. Also, and probably most importantly I think That Suede Skirt is not very nice.
It’s hard because I have wanted it for so long. But I have to find another word, something else, something less loaded with cultural and, in some cases, racial expectation. Something more fun and more me. Hilariously the first word that popped into my mind was ‘nefarious’. Pretty sure in a decade or two I will be writing about how I also wasn’t able to achieve it. At least it’s more interesting than sophisticated.