What is Your Most Vivid Teenage Memory?

A lot of YA fiction writers choose to write YA because of how vivid and new everything is to teenagers, how every minor letdown is the possible End of the World as We Know It. Exams will make or break you life, as will asking out that person you’ve liked for weeks. Many writers, myself included, have very defined memories of their adolescence. Tell us a particularly vivid one of yours in the comments if you like so I don’t feel like a complete fool sharing mine.

Here’s mine, originally posted on She Writes in the comments there:

I’m only just out of high school, so a lot of memories are pretty fresh for me. I was involved in every school musical for the entirety of my six years there (Australian school system). One year, when I was sixteen, our school put on a production of Beauty and the Beast. I was Cogsworth. Since I’m a rather petite female, the rented costume was slightly too big for me and I didn’t have the gut to force it into the box-like shape it was supposed to be, leaving it as a slightly squashed cowbell shape. In one particular scene I have to walk on stage with a turning key in my back. The thing was flimsy, made of cardboard covered in golden material and beads on the side. Because of my lacking height, it often fell out of the hole in my back, which had to be tied around my waist before I put the cowbell suit on over my head.

Most of the time, the turning key stayed in place well enough as long as I was careful with it. One performance, though, things didn’t go quite to plan. In this particular scene, Cogsworth is freaking out over discovering the key and is flailing around in circles trying to get a look at it while Lumiere the candlestick tries to calm him down. As I turned, as I had for a number of shows, the key popped out and clunked onto the floor. I had to improvise intense pain and put the thing back in before I could continue with the scene. Luckily, the girl playing Lumiere (we didn’t have many boys) was able to improvise with me with a bit of, “Are you all right?” Then we continued as normal.

But, of course, the key was not done with its machinations. During the final fight scene, Cogsworth screams “TALLY HO!” and starts a swordfight with two attackers. My line was a cue for all hell to break loose, essentially. Another show, after the Show of the Painful Key had occurred, I leapt forward, screaming my line (or as close to screaming as a British male played by a female can get). As I pulled my sword out from my pendulum compartment, I heard a thud and looked down to find the key had fallen out again. So I picked the thing up and used it similar to a scabbard being used to block attacks.

After that, we wrapped bubble wrap around the end of the key that the audience wasn’t supposed to see. It didn’t fall out again. Funny how one small object can cause so much trouble.

And for everyone’s amusement, here’s a picture of me as Cogsworth:

Me as Cogsworth

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4 thoughts on “What is Your Most Vivid Teenage Memory?

  1. Near the end of middle school. I had to give a presentation in one of my U.S. history classes. My specialty was showing off Powerpoint presentations or bright posters. Here I was forced to read from a research paper.

    I was one of the first people to give my report. Since I wasn’t presenting the usual way for myself, I was more nervous than before. I couldn’t stop thinking about whether I would drop my papers on the ground, or I completely skip a page, or even read the wrong report! (I remember I had other research papers to write).

    I did my best to keep eye contact with my classmates as I read (teachers would take off points if you failed to do that), but because I was so nervous, I kept thinking I was talking too fast. My mind was freaking out while my eyes were glued to the paper and my classmates. My poor voice didn’t know what to say sometimes.

    I was on the last page of my report. I hadn’t made any mistakes and I was beginning to feel a lot more relaxed.

    Then I did it.

    As I reading the last paragraph, a sentence contained the name Lucy (can’t remember the last name). As I read that wretched sentence, I inadvertently said “…his wife ‘Juicy’ Lucy” (almost like a porn star name or something). The class lost it and began roaring with laughter. I choked up my words as my face grew warm. I quickly finished reading my paper and sat down.

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  2. Hah. Sometimes you just end up looking back and laughing at those memories.

    But this was an interesting prompt. I feel like exercises like these are a great way to practice showing vs. telling. Like in yours, you show readers why this is a vivid memory through describing the impromptu scenes of the play to a degree that would make the reader feel like they are sitting and watching the play.

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    • I often get stuck on minute details to the point where the bigger picture is lost, so I’m glad the details actually helped this time 🙂

      Memory can be a funny thing sometimes, with bits and pieces trickling back as you write it out.

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