Went to see the movie Thirteen, the story of Tracy, a straight-A student in 7th grade who turns from a good girl that still has stuffed animals on her bed into an uncontrollable teen monster, after she starts hanging out with ultra bad girl Evie. Shoplifting, drugs, drinking, casual sex and self-mutilation all follow.
I like to think that my own life at that age parallels Tracy?s and so here, based on some of the movie?s central themes is another compelling tale of life at age thirteen.
As we open, Margaret Helene Gallant has just left the safety of her small village primary school and will be attending the far larger secondary school, Swadelands. A little apprehensive, Margaret is buoyed by the thought of her smart new zip-up pencil case, complete with new pen, pencils, protractor and compass. All safely stored in her brand new all-leather briefcase with the combination lock. On weeknights, Margaret attends Girl Guide meetings, participates in the church choir and wishes a boy would try to touch her breast.
Margaret lets fat boy called Gary Hill put his arm round her one time because he?s the only one that wanted to. Gary tries to kiss her after confirmation class one Sunday but his upper lip hair puts her off. In June, Margaret goes to Girl Guide ?pack leaders? camp with a group of older (14 yrs) girls. Other girls get friendly with nearby Scout troupe but then complain about ?wandering hands trouble?. Margaret wonders what boys would do if they knew how far she was willing to go. Gets home and tells friends that she let a boy put his hand down her shirt. Same boy that sends her fictitious valentines cards.
Margaret sent home from school one lunchtime with severe vomiting. Mother accepts decides on explanation of food poisoning, despite finding empty bottle of paracetomol – last seen half full in parents bathroom – in school bag. Margaret wishes there had been more paracetomol.
Rock ?n Roll
Grease comes out in cinema and all cool kids go to see it. Margaret begs parents to let her go to it but they refuse. Also not allowed to purchase singles of YMCA by Village People or Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd. However, parents agree to buy soundtrack of Grease. Unfortunately, is not original movie soundtrack but a K-Tel version featuring the songs of Grease performed by unknowns. But Margaret feels lucky as had album entitled ?Lenham Choral Society perform songs from Grease? been available, parents would have bought that instead.
School uniform is required in secondary school. However, cool girls manage to get away with pencil skirts and ?fat? ties and make gray cardigans look sexy. Margaret wears black lace-up shoes with comfortable crepe sole which go with knee high loose elastic white socks and all-weather, all-leather briefcase. Disregarding humilation in favor of money-saving, Margaret’s mother buys skirt and 2 blouses from school?s second-hand sale and makes further savings by deciding to make Margaret a school summer dress. Instead of pictured shift dress with thin black and red lines forming simple and stylish check pattern, Margaret’s dress has belted waist from which skirt violently flares. Pattern is solid red and black check, giving the appearance of a Scottish extra from Grease.
On Sunday before new school starts, mother tells Margaret she might hear some very rude words and that she should ignore them. In particular mother says, a word beginning with the letter ?F?. Margaret studies dictionary. Mother wordlessly tucks pack of Dr White?s extra thick sanitary pads into Margaret’s bedside table. Too embarrassed to ask, they remain in the drawer until school has girls only sex education talk where gray-haired teacher takes stage, awkwardly mumbles about menstruation, holds pad in air and avoids questions.
Wanting to be taken seriously as bad girl, Margaret attempts to be thrown out of a class but fails. Deliberately cheats on Religious Education class test, but now rest of class thinks she?s just stupid as RE has easiest tests in the world. Margaret has more success with fighting and after lunchtime shoving session with hard girl Renielde Down, Margaret is sent home with letter from Deputy Head saying she drew blood. Had in fact scratched other girl’s hand with a jagged fingernail which she hadn?t yet finished biting. Parents embarrassed.
As we close we see Margaret repacking her briefcase on Sunday night, tightening her hand around the shiny 50 pence piece that will tomorrow guarantee her the first touch of her breast by a boy, a prefect with a fat tie, behind the tuck shop at morning break.