Seventeen, America's Teen-age Magazine
Date: January, 1966
Publisher: Enid A. Haupt
Discovered at: Community Thrift, 623 Valencia
The Cover Promises: Adorkability will not ever be a thing.
What's your secret wish? To have perfect skin? A magic-touch with make-up? To hide your glasses forever and ever? 1966 is the time to set your pace for prettiness!
The countryside here in Vietnam (pronounced "vee-eht-nahm") is like a big, beautiful picture postcard.
As if to prove the point that American women's magazines are often created by people who seem to hate American women, for the January, 1966, issue the editors of Seventeen gave over a couple of their placemat-sized page so that John Gibbs, a 19 year-old New Jersey boy, could complain about everything that is wrong with the magazine's readers.
"When I'm stuck with a girl who's a drag," he writes, "I spend a lot of time looking at my watch, counting change, and picking lint off my suit, and I do not flinch at the thought of watching somebody throw a banana cream pie right in her face."
In the years since 1966, of course, great fortunes have been made from American men's willingness to watch young women get subjected to cream pieing, but that's not what Gibbs was getting at.
Discussing his love life in the article "Little Things Mean a Lot" -- the last title most teen cocksmen would choose - Gibbs lays out the types of girls he was no longer interested in laying out ... or, as he puts it, how he "can tell the difference between a really cool girl and a loser."
Most of the women he's disgusted with either fail to put out or are Zooey Deschanel:
The Affected Girl
"... the one who cannot answer the phone before it rings at least three times ... At a dance she hums (off key) in my ear during slow numbers and gives me a calculatedly deep gaze every sixteen minutes. When the evening is over and we're parked beneath a full moon I turn to her to find she is munching on an apple that was stashed in her purse. "Oh, I just adore apples!" she simpers.
The Nervous Girl
"She bites her lips, examines her cuticles or gnaws at pencil erasers. Sometimes she smiles - crookedly. ... She is a compulsive knee-coverer, always tugging at her skirt ... Her hair is so sprayed it feels as if Merlin had changed it to steel wool, and her girdle could do the work of the Grand Coulee Dam."
The Offbeat Girl
"The Offbeat Girl is different, too different. I can never tell what she'll do next. Once I was sitting down with a girl of this type and suddenly she took out a piece of paper with an ink blot on it and said, 'What do you see?' 'Two eagles fighting,' I said. 'How neurotic you are!' she shrieked, grabbing her purse and fleeing the scene."
The Unfeminine Girl
"At a college mixer, she is the one who responds to my hello by asking where I'm from, how I like my courses, and even - no kidding - if I'd like to dance. Since I know she'll try to lead on the dance floor, I decline the offer. During a movie, if I suggest popcorn, she'll say 'Yes, please, with butter.' Then she'll insist that the popcorn bag be put between the seats so she can get an equal grab at it."
And he goes on like that. He further complains that the unfeminine girl beats him at bowling and has the temerity to know things: "If I admit to being puzzled by a play during a basketball game she will explain, in detail, just why the coach put in Malizewski."
(The only reason a coach would put in Malizewski: Segregation.)
Of course, Gibbs does approve of one special kind of barekneed, sports-ignorant girl who doesn't use apples as contraception. Meet the Feminine Girl, whose charms are -- like everything in young Gibbs' world -- entirely related to the etiquette of popcorn:
"At the movies I hold the popcorn. Many feminine girls have really cool ways of putting their hands in a popcorn bag, making you feel very glad you have popcorn."
Your Crap Archivist finds this claim legitimately confounding. Could some buttercrotched young man of the sixties please explain what exactly was going on in these movie theaters?
He continues, "During the no smoking announcement, she'll put her hand next to mine for comparison and say, 'Gee, you have such nice big hands.' This is a tremendously feminine thing to do, except in the rare cases where her hands turn out to be bigger."
But, John, think of how much more popcorn those big hands could fondle!
Other columns in this issue were purportedly written by real teenagers -- or the management teams of real celebrity teenagers. (One by Sally Field is titled "Nobody Would Give Me a Tumble.") Interestingly, the ones that aren't attacking women tend to state flatly and directly the universal longings that make magazines like Seventeen still popular:
Other article titles they could have gone with: "It Is Important to Me Not to Be Reviled" and "I Would Like to Stand Out But Not So Much That I Draw Attention to Myself."
Anyway, you know how characters in TV shows or movies set in the past are always saying ironic little things to make us feel smart for knowing how terribly life is going to work out for them? Like when a fifties teenager says "It sure is stormy out there, Buddy Holly!" or when there's a 60's ad agency where everything anyone says about anything ever is actually about how doomed and fleeting their moment is?
This issue is entirely like that. There's that coy parenthetical aside explaining how to pronounce "Vietnam" just on the off-chance it ever comes up again; there's the 17 year-old pop-music critic who is over the Beatles and on to Herman's Hermits. (To her credit, she notes that people are only mad about Bob Dylan going electric "because they took Mr. Dylan too seriously in the first place.")
And there's the page of predictions for what 1966 holds in store. Instead of the real 66's civil rights murders, overseas massacres, epidemic of teen runaways, and general feeling of a world careening toward a crack-up, Seventeen predicted things like this:
"Listening dates will grow in popularity. Couples will while away rainy afternoons in booths at record stores and local libraries sampling everything from the records of Herp Albert and his Tijuana Brass to the albums of pianist Vladimir Horowitz."
And ads like this one -- for Campbell's soup, somehow -- seem designed only to make us laugh today:
Pickle-speared on their own megaphones!
So, here's a heap of other curious highlights from that Seventeen's 140 oversized pages-- seriously, compared to today's magazines, this Seventeen is a coffee-table book.