February 5th, 2010

Chillin’ - Behind The Awkwardness

“Our (my brother Mark and I) goal in life was to be cool and nothing says cool like lounging on a car wearing a shirt from Wal-Mart before your “vacation” to the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center 45 minutes away from your house.  Just check out the awkward goodness in this photo:

The Mullet.  This was a compromise between my mother and I.  She wanted me to have Mary Lou Rhetton hair and I wanted long hair like my classmates.  The result?  Feather-backed mullet goodness.  That’s not a perm!

Blue Mirrored Clip-On Shades.  I wore glasses, nice thick black with pink splatter glasses.  I loved them but I, again, wanted the cool shades of my peers.  Enter the oversized blue, mirrored clip on shades that would make any state trooper jealous.  I wanted the ones that flipped up, but they were too expensive.

The Dick Tracy Shirt. Again, in a vain attempt to look cool, hip and in the know, my brother and I desperately wanted a Dick Tracy shirt.  I’m pretty sure we had the Nintendo game too.  Confession: I’ve never seen Dick Tracy.  I just had the shirt.

The Yellow Socks. All the cool kids had colored socks!  I always wanted colored socks, but was only allowed white.  When we got the Dick Tracy shirt I knew it was my chance!

The Wrist Pouch. My brother was on the go, and by on the go, I mean playing with the tool bench behind us.  So what’s a boy to do with no pockets in his red short shorts?  Easily wear the 50 cents papaw gave you on your wrist.”

(submitted by Kelly)

241 Responses to “Chillin’”

  1. ANONYMOUS says:

    I actually love this picture. This is the classic old photos that were taken with those old rectangle cameras… I had one. But we all had those same shorts and same hair cuts and clothes. This reminds me of days long gone. When childhood was childhood. Great picture. Seriously. I get the laughing – I do. But I still find it a great memory.

  2. John says:

    Too awkward, too funny, too poignant, too wonderful. Thanks Kelly, you rock!

  3. Kerri says:

    I love the photo, but the caption under it was PRICELESS. Kelly, you’re awesome. You seriously should consider being a comedian!

  4. Travis says:

    Classic. My sister and I laughed when we saw your picture, but we laughed our a**es off reading your commentary. I think we can relate to numerous items mentioned. I’ve never posted anything on these pictures before, but you deserve a THANK YOU for a memory and a laugh that I’m sure we won’t soon forget.

  5. sarah says:

    i had this shirt when i was a kid, loved it!!!!

  6. shanon says:

    Kelly…You are AWESOME!!!!

  7. Callie says:

    Lol, living in Huntsville myself I know that a trip to the Space and Rocket Center is no vacation! The picutre is great! Reminds me of my love of Dick Tracy, also never having seen it!

  8. Karen says:

    Kelly, that was the sweetest, most endearing description I’ve read on AFP ever! I loved, loved, loved it! I read it twice, just to experience it again. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Dian says:

    I seriously laughed so hard that I went into a fit of coughing. It wasn’t the picture so much as the description! I so remember trying to be the cool kid and did the best I could with what my mom would allow. Needless to say, it didn’t turn out good!

  10. Graeme says:

    I think EVERYONE here thinks should hire you to caption their entries. That was AWESOME. I wish I could send you a freakin’ friend request as part of the modern-day facebook awkwardness…

  11. Sarah says:

    I remember my mother wanting me to have short hair too. Unfortunately, I also had very thick hair. I ended up with very short hair (to my ears) that when dry puffed out to look like a mushroom. For 2 years, until i grew out long enough for me to put it in a banana clip, I was called mushroom head. It was terrible and i’ve never had my hair that short since. No pictures of this hair though. Every time i found one in my later years, i burned it.

  12. Lucy says:

    The only thing missing is a pair of colorful “muscle pants”.

  13. kate says:

    You’re funny Kelly!

  14. Ellie says:


  15. smilelikeumeanit says:

    I Believe…that this is one of the greatest pictures ever

  16. Sonya says:

    Kelly, this is hilarious! I was just telling some friends about the annual field trips we took to the Huntsville Space Center in Alabama. I distinctly recall my feathered, curly mullet that completed my outfit of parachute pants and satin purple jacket.

  17. Chris says:

    Kelly I am just laughing so hard WITH you! I have a pic very much like this–wish I could dig it out. Extreme feathering in my pouffy hair, colored socks (multiple pairs at once!), pre-teen pudge. You brought back so many memories in a flash. I remember trying so hard to fit in and being SO awkward while doing it. I never could get “cool” quite right. This is indeed the picture of the year!

  18. Andrea says:

    Dear Kelly,

    Will you please be my friend?

    Check one:

    ( ) yes
    ( ) no


  19. Leigh says:

    I’ve met my doppleganger. You stole my life. Absolutely hilarious. THANK YOU for the much needed laugh (and memories)!!!

  20. marstracy says:

    C’mon! No one is gonna say it?? TRUFFLE SHUFFLE!!!!!

  21. Debbie says:

    OMG! this is the funniest picture EVER!! I can’t stop laughing. what you wrote was soooo freakin funny!
    THANK YOU so much for posting this, really!!



  23. melinda says:

    that was fantastic!!! loved reading the story that went with the pic, and also the comments… im sure many people can relate 😉 thanks for the giggle and memories… my nan gave me a boy haircut that i wont forget.

  24. Nosferatu says:

    Kelly, your talk about Dick Tracy reminded me that I loooooved the soundtrack. But believe me you have not missed anything in not seeing the movie. You’ve also reminded me of those uncomfortable tween years…oy. Take care and thanks for sharing:)

  25. Annie says:

    Kelly, you just made my day! This is so… my family.

    I would have thought you and your brother were cool back in the day… me and my red glasses and Batman shirt that I bought with my own money from KidSmart.

  26. Sandra says:

    Kelly, Kelly, Kelly. What can I say other than thank you for the best laugh ever! I have returned to this very ‘special’ photo several times since you posted and I still laugh out loud each time. PLEASE post more with your fabulous commentary.

  27. Buggy says:

    Thank you so much Kelly!
    I love your description as well as the awkwardly trying to be cool pic – I’m glad to hear I wasn’t alone (by a far shot) in the realm of mother-dictated hairdos.
    When I was little I had long blonde hair, it was fairly thin and wavey, so somehow my mom decided that it would look really good to braid my hair while wet, waiting 24 hours, undoing the braids and then brushing my hair. Much white-girl afro ensued.

  28. Molly says:

    From one of the most awkward kids I’ve ever seen to one of the coolest adults I could imagine…. You’ve come a long way! *hugs*

  29. sandra says:

    you could so be me… same time period and everything.

  30. QueenieFrancie says:

    i have just wet my pants!!! that had to be the funniest description of an awkward photo i’ve ever read!!! Kelly, you described the photo and the experience of the photo perfectly! thank you for the best laugh i’ve had in a long time!

    absolutely hysterical! i especially loved the “vacation” destination only being 45 minutes from your house!

  31. bosco says:

    ROFL!!! The description is funnier than the pic!!!

  32. Amy says:

    One of the awkwardest photos I’ve ever seen! Love the descrip. Genius!

  33. Barbara says:

    Kelly! I love you! Thank you for this!

  34. Amber says:

    You are a brilliant writer!! Thanks for the laugh!!!

  35. 25forever says:

    As far as I can see, no one has pointed out how not cool it is to be wearing the SAME cool shirt as your sibling … to me that doubles the awkwardness.

  36. John says:

    I don’t think I could’ve worn shorts that high as a kid. My nuts would be sighted LOL… The mullet rocks BTW lol

  37. Celeste says:

    Yellow socks and a mullet. Together at last!

  38. WI_DJ says:

    The cavalier with the white walls mounted out puts this way over the top. that was the poor man’s olds and I can just see your dad telling them to mount the new tires whitewall out to try in vain to give the car class on a budget. Too funny. Not many of them are on the road any more, in the northern climate near me they’ve all rusted out and gone to the junkyard.

  39. Melissa says:

    The commentary is just as funny as the pic. Kudos to Kelly, thanks for sharing!

  40. Hannah says:

    I had a Dick Tracy shirt when I was young too, but I never knew what it was. haha this picture is just amazing.

  41. Jim says:

    Got quite a sympathetic chuckle out of your cringing stroll down Memory Lane, LOL. I’m sure you and your brother were great kids and are even greater grown-ups. Thanks for sharing!

  42. Lizzen says:

    Bless you and your awkwardness!

  43. Kazz says:

    Kelly, I just try to pretend that all of my awkward pre-teen, mom-dictated clothes and haircut photos don’t exist-so I love that you had the cojones (yes I realize you’re a she but it takes balls for anyone to allow mullet photos to see the light of day) to send in the photo and tell the story behind the awkward. Awesome.

    So here’s the question, since I was in the same mom boat. If you have kids now, what’s your stance on clothes and hair choices (or, if you don’t have kids, hypothetically-would you give them carte blanche when selecting hair and clothes, or would there some standards there?).

    • Deb says:

      Kazz, I too was like the OP, I had gorgeous long blonde hair and my mom convinced me to let her get it cut. Like a boy. I endured the “”you look like a boy”” comments for years, until I finally got to grow part of it out. I also had to wear thrift shop specials, and at the age of 13 was wearing skirts a 70 year old would think out of fashion.

      To answer your question, I let my kids be comfortable and well groomed. My son likes short hair, and I always ask him what he wants when we go to the barber. He gets it like he likes it..and when he was younger, he had a mowhawk one summer. My mom threw a fit but he loved it!

      I have one daughter and of course I’m growing her hair down to her butt..she’s very girly and I buy or make her very pretty dresses. I try not to overdo it but I make sure she is expressing HER style, not mine. There are times we compromise..she wants necklaces, bracelets, hair ties, belts and EVERY ACCESSORY on her (she’s 7) and I have to get her to remove some. But I always make sure I’m not promoting my style..that she is allowed to pick out tasteful clothes that represent her personality.

      The only line I have is that the clothes are not RUDE, DISRESPECTFUL or INAPPROPRIATE. i.e. tiny mini skirts, curse words on t-shirts, etc.

      I vow to never be like my mother!

      • Kazz says:

        Haha…funny, that’s more or less the route I’ve gone-my kids (three daughters, one son) have their choice of hairstyle and clothing within a reasonable budget so long as it’s not inappropriate or rude. They get my opinion for sure, but I remember feeling like a freak with some of my clothes, and long stringy fine hair parted in the middle (I had the opposite problem-baby fine hair that looked far better short/lightly layered that I was not allowed to cut) as a kid-so I don’t stop them if they put on an outfit that makes them feel like they don’t stand out like a sore thumb.

  44. Michelle says:

    Before I even read the description I had a fleeting thought that my cousin posted this picture because it looks like something straight out of our family album! This is perfect! It is so cool that you are not afraid to admit that you were awkward, and then show it! When I flip through the old pics with friends I have already removed the bad hair pics and awful wardrobe choices because I cannot bear to have anyone see that. Thanks for the vote of confidence and a wonderful story!!!

  45. ali says:

    this is too good to be true!! lololol awesome pic

  46. Patricia says:

    What made this photo so fantastic was the great description!

  47. Lauren says:

    The description was fantastic..very amusing.

  48. Shakespeare? says:

    I’m also a victim of the “Dorothy Hamill” and before that the “pixie”. and yeah, somebody thought I was a boy. Now my mother says that women over 30 shouldn’t have long hair. “Yuh know what, Mom? @#%* You!”

    • Lainey says:

      LMAO – I remember when my mom had my hair cut short and I turned around, looked in the mirror, and busted out in tears because I looked just like my brother who only a year younger than me. We got teased relentlessly and called “twins” which we absolutely hated since I was a girl and he was a boy, oh, and we hated each other the way that siblings kind of do. OH, what a trip down memory lane this one was!

      • Amber says:

        wow I am so surprised so many mothers made their daughters cut their hair.. My mom would not let me cut it!! I begged and begged. I hated it then when I was in the 5th grade my mom let my older sister take me to get a haircut and I told the lady short and she said some ice skater had this look and cut it above my ears.. My mom nearly died when I walked in the door and i hated it and have never again cut my hair above my shoulders!! But I never admitted that to her bc I was independent and made my own choice but I am sure she knew and secretly gloated!!

      • Rhonda says:

        Yeah, me too. The pixie haircut made me cry. And I was an only child!

    • Shakespeare? says:

      Just kidding about that last part. I love my mom, even when she’s wrong.

    • Melissa says:

      I remember having the pixie haircut (until I was about 8) and getting teased about being a boy (the fact that I was a tomboy didn’t help). I got my Dorothy Hamill in 7th grade, and that was a BIG step up for me! I didn’t start growing my hair long until about 7 years ago (at age 38), and I’m sure my mother is turning in her grave over it. (I’m afraid to cut it now – who knows what I’ll end up with??)

      • Melissa says:

        I don’t know why my age 7 turned out as a smiley face. And just for the record, I DO get my hair trimmed from time to time, so it’s only about half-way down my back.

      • ReginaPhalange says:

        Wow. I didn’t know so many girls’ mothers wanted them to have short hair? Wonder why that is. I’ve had long hair for as long as I can remember and went through a period where I wouldn’t even let my mother trim it–I musta loved split ends when I was a kid.

        • Lucy says:

          The pixie…that brings back memories. Memories of being called a boy and total hair envy of all my friends with long pony tails tied with yarn ribbons. My mother admitted she kept us girls in short hair because she didn’t want to deal with all the drama of detangling long hair. Funnyy… I did the long hair thing in my 20’s and now I prefer short hair because it’s easier. Don’t tell my mom she was right.

  49. Teresa says:

    Your mother preferred a mullet to pretty long hair. She must not have any fashion sense. I hope you were able to forgive her. I hope you had a little pair of earrings. Just wondering-do/did you look like your mom?


  50. Stella says:

    Hi Kelly, thanks for the best photo ever! Of course what really made it great is your very honest, detailed description. It took me straight back to my own teen years and that desperate, yearning feeling of wanting to be in the in crowd. To want to be fashionable and have what seemed like all the other girls at your all girls school had but being held back in your quest by parents and finaces. Yes, in the good old days we had to do what our parents told us, they decided to an extent what we wore, did to our walls, hair etc. Amazing but true! Also my parents simply couldn’t afford the latest fashion, gadgets, accessories. Thnaks for a trip down memory lane of teenage awkwardness. Pls post some more from your family album, with your added notes of course.

    • Melody says:

      KELLY – IF THIS WEBSITE HAS AN “ENTRY OF THE YEAR” CONTEST – you are the winner, hands down. I don’t know you….but I sure do like you! Thank you for a heartwarming walk down memory lane.

    • glasstabletop says:

      Yeah, the description made it.

      I wonder what the “in” crowd was thinking at the time…”We’re in. Where do we go from here?”

    • Bucky says:

      This is absolutely classic! I too was a wearer of the mullet but mine was no where near as hard as this one. I have been laughing for the past 10 minutes and will save this photo to my computer so I can look at it later. Thanks so much for posting this. P.S. loved the detailed description.

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