Tuesday, April 9, 2013

HAGS and other high school yearbook clichés.

I went to a pretty stereotypical big midwestern public high school, with all of the cliché high school trappings: wild homecoming football games, prom king and queen, band geeks, study hall, and yearbooks.

If you didn't grow up with yearbooks, they're like time capsules on paper, attempting to catch the year and freeze it in time so that we can all go back years later and flip though its pages and reminisce about chess club, or laugh at our totally dated hairstyles, or show our kids the picture of that guy we had a crush on in 8th grade. But all the official stuff, the things that make it past the yearbook committee, are usually ignored in the days right after they've come out, because what really matters, more than how many times your name is mentioned or how many inside jokes made it past the yearbook police, are the signatures.

I don't know if my teachers even bothered to try and teach class on the day the yearbooks came out in my high school, because once the signing frenzy started, it got kind of intense. People would bring special pens, have signature catch-phrases, draw elaborate pictures (one year I signed all my friends' yearbooks with the lastname of the boy I had a crush on, rather than my own. I'd love it if somebody could send me a picture of that embarrassing choice). There was something electric and exciting about yearbooks, even to those of us who usually snarked at school traditions like pep rallies or class photos (several of my friends had to have their fingers blacked out in the official photo).

I was a pretty shy kid in school. I mean, I was loud and crazy around my friends, but in most of my classes I was pretty much silent. I also rarely seemed to have friends in my classes (big high school, remember?) so although I loved signing my friends' yearbooks at lunch or after school, when it came time for in-class yearbook signing I never really knew what to do. But thankfully (/sarcasm) in 9th grade I got the lesson (pictured left) that if you want to not spend the day trying not to cry, don't hand your book to bitches you've only known through class. Even if you were tech lab partners. Whatever. I'm not bitter or anything.

But that really isn't my biggest pet peeve about yearbooks. You know what is? HAGS. No, not old crusty women, I mean the acronym for Have A Great Summer, the most lazy thing you can ever write in another person's yearbook. It not only says "I have no personal connection with you" but also "and I'm too lazy to even write out 4 full words, that's how little I care about you." All while hiding behind a friendly smile. It's a beautiful example of the dark side of "Minnesota Nice". What it should really stand for is Hate you, Asshole. Go Suck it.

Maybe I'm being dramatic. I do concede that people might not hate me as much as the thought monkey tries to make me believe. But still, HAGS is lame and sucks. I hope it died out along with bad 98 Degrees references and other relics of the late 90s.

Yearbook time, 2001
I really do love my yearbooks, especially the notes from my friends. One bonus of going to a big high school was that there were friends to be had, wonderful friends, even for weirdos like me. (Actually, people used to call us the Window Weirdos, because we hung out by the front window of the school... and were weirdos)  I loved my friends, and back then I thought we'd always be friends like that, laughing, and teasing, and grabbing each other's boobs. Some of those people I'm still actively friends with in real life, but with most we just get a glimmer of each other over facebook. So I guess that makes the yearbooks even more special. Those notes are like a freeze-frame of our friendship, something tangible and sweet and worth keeping forever. (Aww, that got sappy. But really, I love you guys. Let's go get a drink together some time.)

24 comments:

  1. Interesting--we got our yearbooks from the previous year in the fall, and I'm not sure anyone ever signed them. Well, I'm sure some people did, but it wasn't a big deal. I remember getting my senior yearbook in the middle of fall term freshman year at Carleton... it was a really weird feeling to look through it.

    The autograph here is so classic... I mean, it's so clear that the awful one is the one who wrote the autograph, ew. But I can imagine how crushing that would feel.

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    1. Oh that's so weird. That would completely change the yearbook experience, and is why I never really got into the yearbooks at Carleton, because the signing is where the fun is!

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    2. And I assume Carls wouldn't be quite as rude as Becky there.... but then again, I've been on caucus...

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    3. All my life in school we got our yearbooks a couple days before school got out. When we were little we would sit on the playground with popsicles and sign yearbooks. When we were older we would do it during classes. Then I transferred to a new district after we moved and they got theirs when they came back the next year. So I got a JR year yearbook even though I wasn't in it (not as an individual, but I was there for a group shot). Then we didn't get our senior yearbooks till the fall following graduation, which was a huge bummer :/

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  2. I remember the signing frenzy...it was fun! And waiting to see what your "secret crush" would write in your book was always a highlight for me...you can read a lot into "HAGS", if your crush writes it to you!

    Ruby is participating in the A to Z Challenge
    Ruby Wilbur

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    1. Oh yes, the secret crush! I got a guy's number that way once. I almost died.

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  3. A couple of years ago my dad asked me to go through some boxes in his attic to see if there was anything I wanted to keep. I spent an entire afternoon flipping through old year books. In one, every one of my girlfriends wrote something to the effect of, "Good luck with Jason:)"

    There must have been a dozen comments about Jason, and I cannot for the life of me remember who he was.

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    1. hahaha, that's awesome. It's really funny what seems so important at the moment that we completely forget about later.

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  4. Having yearbooks is totally awesome... I enjoy the times reminiscing once i sit with it....

    Popped in from AtoZ
    http://www.kydevolution.blogspot.com

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  5. I would probably hate "HAGS" too! It's so interesting to read your description of the high school and find that it's exactly as in American teen movies :)

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    1. haha, yes, oddly enough it was just like the movies, except all the movies are shot in sunny California and I was in snowy Minnesota.

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  6. What I remember most was that I had terrible handwriting, except when I printed. So I printed all of my comments (when asked...which wasn't often), and now I bet that when my classmates look back at their old yearbooks...my comment is probably the only one they can read! :)

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    1. haha, I bet it is. When I was in high school we all used print, now legibility is mostly up to the type of pen you used, some of them faded/smeared too badly to read well anymore. :(

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  7. I got lots of HAGs also, probably because I was very shy and quiet in high school(except around my friends). And I remember thinking the same thing - what a lame thing to write! Hope all is going well over at Mac!

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    1. We're on the same wavelength! (Mac's good, how's Tommie Land?)

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  8. Weirdest yearbook signature ever? "Laura: I want to have slow, boring sex with you." From a dude who, as far as I know, was never interested in me, nor I in him.

    At least it wasn't HAGS, though. That was never a thing at my school.

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  9. I signed every girl in my class' yearbook "You were the first." I hope they are amused if they are showing it to their children today. I just wish I had signed more guys' yearbooks that way. Oh, and two of my best friends were in charge of making the yearbook our year and they put so many inappropriate things in it that there was no yearbook for a number of years after. Nice.

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    1. Yeah I doubt i would have been a fan of that unless we were really good friend

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