Re: Go Ask Alice

1

I was either prematurely cynical, or not paying enough attention. (Probably both.) When I read it in grade school, I really didn't process that it was supposed to be (a) true and (b) a cautionary tale -- I thought it was just lurid fiction. It never occurred to me to believe it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 6:38 AM
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2

I think I read it in junior high, and understood it to be campy hippie punching. I kind of lumped it together with Sybil in the yeah-right-that-happened category. (Sybil is made up, right?)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 6:44 AM
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3

2.last: Yes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 6:46 AM
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4

That book has all the verisimilitude of "Acid is groovy, kill the pigs."


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 6:50 AM
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5

Also, I have a shitload of work I need to get done this weekend, and I woke up nauseated and with a headache that would cut glass. This is going to suck.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 6:51 AM
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6

Guess you picked the wrong day to give up amphetamines.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 6:54 AM
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7

Honestly. I'd regret drinking too much last night if I hadn't been sitting at my desk working until eleven.

I wonder if I need new glasses. But if it were eyestrain, I shouldn't have woken up feeling awful, I don't think.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 6:57 AM
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8

But back to hippie punching. I wonder if that book got many people to actually put mayonnaise on their hair. I suppose it might be a perfectly reasonable conditioner, if you washed it out well enough not to go rancid in the sun.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 6:58 AM
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9

Now that I know what a publishing phenomenon that book was in the early 70's, I understand why there were so many titles of that genre in my school library later in the decade.
I imagine two publishing executives over a three martini lunch, ca. 1973: "It will be Go Ask Alice, only for SATANISM!"
"And next, we could do ALCOHOLISM!"
"Yeah, what about SHOPLIFTING!"


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 6:59 AM
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10

I do kind of wonder how much of the weirdness is artifacts of the early 70's.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:00 AM
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11

I don't understand the question. It's pure distilled essence of early 70s. What is weird about it that isn't an artifact of the early 70s?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:04 AM
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12

8. Depends on your mayonnaise recipe. Egg as a protein conditioner is widely advocated, and the ancient Romans used to wash with olive oil. You might want to go easy on the Dijon mustard.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:06 AM
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13

I wonder if that book got many people to actually put mayonnaise on their hair.

My sister did so on at least once occasion during the relevant time period, but I doubt she was influenced by the book, at least directly.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:13 AM
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14

7.2: I think I do. I'm putting it off because I'll need bifocals.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:16 AM
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15

11: In the sense of things Ortberg is describing as implausible/impossible when in fact they're artifacts.

(Austin Lounge Lizards: "Remember back in the early seventies when the hippest thing on earth was to have some Coors beer?")


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:22 AM
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16

14: Maybe you'll be like me and only need fake bifocals -- I have progressives with no prescription in the "reading" part.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:23 AM
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17

Oh, huh. Like, possibly between 1969 and 1974 the whole thing was less completely implausible. I guess I can't rule that out categorically.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:26 AM
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18

"I am now a priestess of Satan"; "Miss Triple Fink Mouth" -- nope nope nope. Not even in 1973.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:29 AM
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19

Not so much the drug stuff, more like the gelatin salad stuff.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:32 AM
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20

19: I think that the gelatin salad thing was more about whether high school parties assigned attendees to bring dishes that read "church potluck."


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:36 AM
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21

As opposed to chips, candy, maybe cookies, Coke, etc.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:37 AM
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22

14: I'm putting it off because I'll need bifocals.

Haven't been heeding the NMM instructions, eh?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:38 AM
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23

15.2: and you could just chuck the handy pull tab onto the street!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:40 AM
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24

15.2: I remember back in the late 90s when the hippest thing on earth was to have some Fat Tire. Nothing new under the sun, I guess.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:42 AM
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25

Teenagers don't independently invent the concept of eating disorders in their journals. She would just call it bulimia.

Actually, I think a lot of sheltered, pre-After School Special girls probably independently invented bulimia. I had high school girl friends who experimented with throwing up and would have vehemently denied that they were "trying out bulimia."


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 7:43 AM
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26

I also do not recall bulimia (or even anorexia) being that much of a pop-culture thing at the time.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 8:35 AM
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27

26: A lagging indicator, but supporting evidence via Google n-gram. via Google n-gram.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 8:37 AM
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28

16: I can't read without glasses now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 8:50 AM
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29

I could actually see a high-school kid bringing a gelatin salad to a party, if it were the sort of thing her family brought to church potlucks. Maybe all of you were cooler than I was in high school (all right, everyone was) but don't you remember an age when you were sort of trying to fake functional adult sophistication, and pulling inappropriate bits out sometimes? I could see "Party. food. What sort of food do you have at parties? Cookies and cake are for little kids... adults bring actual food to things." and ending up with Jello salad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 8:58 AM
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30

The chart in 27 matches my recollection. Who on earth doesn't call it jello salad? Other than people under the influence of IP lawyers, that is.

18 is exactly right.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 9:48 AM
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31

29: We used to make some kind of Mollie Katzen cheese sauce/fondue after school (. . . and get high!).*

*This was the last blog comment she wrote.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 9:53 AM
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32

I had somehow never heard of this book, even though I love the 70s creepy ethos of teen doom and despair. Mallory Ortberg is so so great not having heard of the book didn't matter.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 10:17 AM
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33

http://www.snopes.com/language/literary/askalice.asp


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 10:25 AM
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34

I hadn't heard of it either but apparently it's the same woman who did Jay's Journal, a source of muchos urban legends around Pleasant Grove, a little town just south of here.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 10:56 AM
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35

I've probably mentioned this before, but I read a book titled Perfection Salad which was a history of home economics. Very interesting and I recommend it.

The point is that jello salad with carrot curls was something very often taught there, and generations of American women made it for that reason. My brother's mother-in-law would bring it to family gatherings.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 11:02 AM
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36

Man, she churned out a bunch of these. The writing is hilariously exactly what I'd expect from an older devout Mormon woman from Idaho/Utah.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatrice_Sparks#Bibliography


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 11:05 AM
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37

The gelatin salad, gswift!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 11:12 AM
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38

Ha, I know, right? I'm having flashbacks to my childhood.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 11:28 AM
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39

I think I read it in junior high, and understood it to be campy hippie punching.

Wow, you (and LB) were supersmart (and/or I was kind of dumb). One of my older cousins gave it to me to read when I was 11 or 12, and I thought it was a true account. I also thought that Sybil was true.

Oh, and I tried the mayo in the hair. It was a greasy mess. My mother used to rinse our hair with vinegar, which does seem to add shine (or maybe it gets rid of shampoo residue?).


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 2:57 PM
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40

I wasn't too smart to fall for it -- I literally didn't understand that the author seriously intended it to be taken as true. It just didn't occur to me it was anything but a novel.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 3:18 PM
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41

But it was billed as an authentic (though anonymous!) diary of a teenage girl. I took that description at face value: it just didn't occur to me that it might be a work of fiction. It was only a few years later, when I first heard that Jefferson Airplane song ("White Rabbit": "go ask Alice when she's ten feet tall") that I began to suspect it might be fictional (and I totally missed the Jefferson Airplane reference when I first read the book).


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 4:41 PM
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42

||

Ffffffffffff. 8192; 97040 points.
|>


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-26-14 6:11 PM
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43

Did wash hair with mayo, because of this book, like Jane. Took a few days to completely come out. Would have been age 10, and hadn't before met a book that claimed to be a diary but wasn't. Those excerpts remind me what young Penny thought being older would be like. I questioned why her parents would have agreed to publish the sexy bits. I never questioned the Jello salad.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 04-27-14 6:25 AM
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44

Related only re 70s books - this made me think of The Women's Room by Marilyn French. I won't say it changed my life when I read it in ?1978? but it did make me think about feminism in a way that my experiences had not up to that point - undoubtedly I had been missing the forest for the trees, as my mother and sisters later told me. Good example of novel as teachable moment.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 04-27-14 7:35 AM
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45

44: I absolutely remember the cover to that book: The Ladies' Women's Room.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-27-14 7:41 AM
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46

45: Me too! The changes were written in red lipstick.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-28-14 7:17 AM
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47

I'm not sure that merited an exclamation point!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-28-14 7:21 AM
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48

42: Congratulations, Minivet. Some stats from my phone version (which ends the game after reaching your pre-specified goal):
2048 goal: 25/38 success, best score 27452.
4096 goal: 3/22 success, best score 45096.

At this rate, I would expect a 8192 goal to have less than a 1% success rate, so I haven't tried it yet. It's quite an achievement to have hit it.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 04-30-14 4:01 PM
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