Sunday, September 24, 2006

Where Do All The Cool Guys Go To Smoke?

A big thanks to the Buzz girls for inviting me on board! I’m thrilled to be “visiting” here on Sundays, and to be part of this terrific group.

Since my nose is so often in a book, people tend to think I was a top student. Not true. Especially in high school. The action, as far as I was concerned, was in the halls, bathrooms, and out in the courtyard. The guys, the girls, the break-ups, the make-ups, the tears, the smirks. THIS was my idea of career prep, and I couldn’t get enough, whether I was living it or just watching from the sidelines.

So when my high school daughter handed me my Back-to-School Night schedule, and mentioned I’d have third period “free” because that teacher would be away, the teen in me elbowed the mother aside.

“Cool,” I told her. “That’s like ditching class. So tell me, where do the cool guys go to smoke?”

She rolled her eyes. “What, you want to meet their dads?”

At this, my teenaged son actually looked away from his computer game and deadpanned, “Mom, you’re married, remember?”

Sure I am. Happily. But put me back on a high school campus, and my inner teen is reborn. (Hmmm....would it be too geeky to bring a laptop and take notes?)

With warnings to behave myself, a campus map, and a schedule that dictated me changing teacher presentations every ten minutes, my kids sent me off to Back-to-School Night. Soon I was sitting in my daughter's AP classes, wondering how any kid of mine could be good in math and science. Then third period came, and I was free!

But since I didn’t really want to meet guys (and especially guys who smoked--I quit years ago), I decided to use the time for a bathroom break. Minutes later, I was attempting to find my way downstairs to my fourth period classroom. Only to wind through a labyrinth of hallways, corridors and overpasses, but for the life of me, I could not find a staircase.

Finally--voila. A heavy, unmarked door at the end of the hall. I opened it (thinking if some alarm went off, I was SO blaming the lady leaning by that locker over there) and I instantly heard shrieks. Then I saw the relieved faces of four teen girls.

“Omigod, we were like, locked in here.”

“Forever!” another agreed.

I put on my mental Mom hat and realized that it was an emergency exit stairwell that only opened out, and whisked the girls to safety (realizing they’d actually saved ME from a similar fate). As they scampered down the hallway, I was tempted to yell after them, to say, “Hey, girls, you must GO to this school, you have to know better. What in the world were you doing in the emergency exit stairwell, anyway?”

But I didn’t ask. I might be a generation older, but some things don’t change, do they? They were looking for where the cool guys go to smoke.


Simone Elkeles said...

In my high school, the place where guys went to smoke was called (by teachers, too) The Pit (aptly named). But I have to say the cool guys at my school didn't smoke, they were the athletes (except this guy named Adam who was totally hot). The place to hang out was the football practice field or the sub sandwich place down the street from the school

(When I'm on campus, I turn into a teenager again, too!) I'm signing books at the Follett's on the University of Illinois campus on October 7th. I am SO excited to go back and visit my alma mahter!

Young Adult Authors said...

Welcome to Buzz Blog, Tina!

The kids that smoked at my HS were relegated to a courtyard which bordered the lunchroom -- and all its windows. You could literally watch all the smokers lighting up while you chewed your sandwich. One day, a girl put a "don't feed the animals" sign up on one of the windows as a joke. I doubt the courtyard is still used for smokers, but it was sorta funny being able to spy...

stephhale said...

I can't believe they allowed smoking on campus at your schools. I'm pretty sure we would have been shot on site if we would have attempted that. No off campus lunches either, so lame. Totally cute post, Tina!
Simone~ I am so going to be at your U of I signing! Yeah, buzz girls unite! :)

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Wonderful post, Tina! You're a natural blogger!

We had off campus lunches so kids were smoking in their cool rides with booming music and packed so full of kids you could barely move an inch. =D

Hi Everyone, I'm Tina's CP and looking forward to vistiting often!

Marley Gibson said...

Great post, Tina! Great to have you with us.

At my school, the only people who smoked were girls. I went to a really small school - about 400 people K-12. There were literally like 5 people who smoked. There was this section adjacent to the senior parking lot where they went to grab a butt.

Funny thing...almost every teacher smoked. They'd all go in the teacher's lounge and would come out after recess or lunch in this miasma of cigarette smoke. Too funny!

I'd love to go back to the hallowed halls and see what it's like today.

= )

Shannon McKelden said...

Hey, Tina!! Glad to see you here.

Was I the only really "good" girl in high school, who really has no idea where anyone smoked, because I sooo didn't know the smokers? Geez. It is seriously not easy to write YA when you were so lily white, you can't add any realism to the books. Maybe I should pull a "Back to the Future" and go back in time and be a little bad. LOL!


TinaFerraro said...

Marley, I'd like to go see my old high school today, as well, and I'll bet--like Simone's experience--the athletes are now cool ones.

Steph, smoking on my campus was never allowed--it's just that the ban was rarely enforced, and part of the fun for the "cool guys" was pushing the envelope, I'm sure.

Heather, I loved the "don't feed the animals" sign.

Shannon, sounds like you had a terrific high school experience, one you can recreate for your books with your own brand of realism.

And a special shout-out to my CP, Kelly! She's got a YA coming out from MTV Books next year called GRAFFITI GIRL, and I can attest to lots of cool guys hanging on those pages.

Thanks for all the comments, guys!


Simone Elkeles said...


That is SO cool that you're coming to my signing on the University of Illinois campus on October 7th at Follett's bookstore. It's homecoming, I better wear my alumni sweatshirt (although to be fair I went to Purdue for 2.5 years before I transfered to U of I--I think they're playing Purdue...)

Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

Shannon, you go girl, being all lily-white. Your husband thanks you :)

I also had no idea where people went to HS anyway. I always found that the guys who smoked were so ...ugh!

And then I grew up and married a smoker..who has sworn to quit. But that's for another post... :)

Anonymous said...

Yay! Tina's blogging!


I'd like to go on the record as saying that in my opinion, cool guys don't smoke. Now, I may be a bit biased, seeing as how I'm allergic to cigarette smoke and being anywhere near it makes me literally ill, but I've just never gotten the allure. Cool guys have huge lung capacities, can play sports, and don't smell like ass (errr...cigarettes).

It's funny. In life, I tend to go for the good guys, and in books, I go ga-ga for bad boys, but real or fiction, the moment a guy starts smoking, it's over for me. I think that this might be because the only reason I can think of that someone from my generation would start smoking is TO look cool, which to me is the essence of lameness.

Glad you survived back to school night, though! Can't wait to hear more from you soon.


TinaFerraro said...

Hey, Jen, thanks so much for dropping by!

And you're ahead of the bell curve on this smoking issue--it's NOT cool, is it?--but it took me a wee bit longer in my life to figure that fact out.

Great to see you here!

Anonymous said...


Bet you never thought I would come here. Great job. As always, you brought me right back to high school.

And I can attest to everyone who left a comment that although smoking was "not allowed", nothing was ever enforced. We (yes I was one of them) smoked everywhere we could. The "bleachers" were constantly filled with skippers and smokers on their way to the next class. (This is the courtyard Tina is referring to).

Tina, thanks for so vividly bringing back the memories.


TinaFerraro said...

Janet--wow, you sure surprised me! And for everyone else, Janet was the first person to befriend me when I was the new kid in 4th grade (and had that funny California accent). We've stayed close all these years, and believe me, she can support or negate any of my stories. So I gotta stay honest, huh?

Thanks, Janet!