March 16, 2004
Seventh grade was one of the more horrid years of my life so far. I had moved to an upper-middle-class town in Florida, where everybody seemed to be blond and sun-kissed and running around in layered tank tops, cute shorts and double pairs of contrast-color socks and Keds. I was a nerd wearing jeans from Marshalls with the Playboy bunny logo on the pocket, who wasn't allowed to shave her legs, whose mom walked her home from school. It was the year that I found safe harbor in the books of Anne McCaffrey, who had a voice for girls who felt completely stuck and ugly and on the outs with everybody and everything.
My sisters made friends more easily, but fourth grade isn't quite so bad. Stuck at home together while our parents worked, we had the kind of violent sibling fights where you know you're going to kill each other. Being the oldest sister, I'm still not proud of that. I've learned to temper my temper around them, even though we still can drive each other crazy.
Saturday mornings we called a truce. We didn't have cable, but we had a tiny b&w television that gave us fuzzy reception if you could set the antenna just right. Somehow we discovered the cartoon Jem, a musical rock soap opera. Jem, the pink-haired alter-ego of Jerrica Benton, the rich philanthropist who sets up the Starlight House for foster girls. Rio, Jerrica's boyfriend, is also drawn to Jem, but naturally he's torn, not knowing he loves the same girl. And then there are the Holograms, Kimber, Aja, Shana and Raya. Their music rivals are The Misfits, with more aggressive music, shredded outfits, severe makeup and big hair in acrid colors. And there were songs, mini-videos within the cartoons!
The media setup being fairly minimal, my sisters wanted to tape the songs. So they took one of their tape players and held it up to the television whenever a song came on. Once I forgot that the recorder was on and started talking about what we were watching. One of them was so upset she started to cry.
Well, Sis, no need to cry anymore, because Seasons 1 and 2 are coming out on DVD.
Addendum: Listen to the groovy theme song. [Link deactivated] There are also several French versions of the theme, with translations and downloads.