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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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« You can't even imagine | Main | What? No. NO. »
Wednesday
Mar212007

This one's for you, Sarah Brown.

It was Miss Sarah Brown who first introduced me (and much of the Internets) to the concept of Bershon. Here she is, describing it with her usual excellence:

"The spirit of bershon is pretty much how you feel when you’re 13 and your parents make you wear a Christmas sweatshirt and then pose for a family picture, and you could not possibly summon one more ounce of disgust, but you’re also way too cool to really even DEAL with it, so you just make this face like you smelled something bad and sort of roll your eyes and seethe in a put-out manner."

When I read this my mind rocketed back to the eighties, when I was so consumed with distaste for everything and everyone I was forced to live with or near that I could not wipe that look off my face, no matter how I tried. I think I even slept with it on. My parents would tiptoe into my room, thinking, sure, she's a raging harpy when she's awake, but maybe we can love her again if we get a glimpse of her angelic sleeping baby cutie face and they'd peer at me in the darkness and run from the room, hissing oh dear God she's still doing it!

Without further ado, if you have the stomach for it: The Bershon Queen of Locust Valley High School.

 

bershonqueen.jpg

Ugh, gack, are you, like, taking a picture of me? Can't you see I'm writing? And trying not to notice that I'm at like a picnic or whatever? GOD.

Here I am forced to consume cake:

birthdaybershon.jpg

Fine, cake, sure, but the hat is so super-lame it's not even funny. Am I wearing the same oversized white shirt here? I think I am. God, I'm a dork. And so are all of you. I HATE THIS FAMILY.

The Bershon started young, for me:

youngbershonalice.jpg

Fine, I'm sitting, I got the barrette in my hair. Are you HAPPY? Will you just take the picture, already? I have to go dream of the eighties, when I'll wear oversized white shirts.

Bershon seems to run in the family. Here I am with my sister Liz:

aliceliz.jpg

I totally look older and cool like my cool big sister, because I'm making this face. See? I am so freaking sophisticated. But why am I dressed like I'm in Little House on the Prairie?

And my brother James:

Bershon  brother!

"I have no teeth. I can't Bershon it up when I'm lacking teeth."

"God, she's a dork. Why am I sitting on her lap? GOD."

Reader Comments (50)

i have to go and substitute teach a whole classroom full of adolescents tomorrow, so i thank you from the bottom of my heart for a word to describe what i know will be their weary, just-tolerant reception of my fine self and the wonders of the five-paragraph essay. :)

btw...if it was still 1985, i would have, like, totally liked your hair. and would never have told you, b/c i had this "smelling something bad" look on my face. but i'm coming out now.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbon
Love the pictures. Thanks for sharing.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Milton
Locust Valley? You are so not pink and green. I am awestruck.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermagpie
i'm pondering the top photo and wondering if we could have been bff that year, or would our bershon quotient have repelled us like north-south poles of two magnets...

I guess it would depend if you had any cigarettes.

xo





March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKyran
You TOTALLY have me talking like a valley girl again.

And I just tight-rolled my jeans. Cuz, like, they look so cool it's not even funny.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha Jo Campen
And your family kept you? Sort of amazing, huh?
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSuebob
My daughter and I were in Santa Fe over the weekend on vacation. We were sitting at a table at our favorite restaurant (Pasquals) next to a family with a 13 or 14 year old son. My daughter looked at me and said the word "bershon", I looked over at the kid and the two of us cracked up laughing hysterically. The family was oblivious, thank god. Made my day.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah
Seeing the picture of you with your sister Liz reminds me of Wensday Addams. Oh, and Laura Ingalls as well!
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Prince
I'm almost 30 and still consumed with distaste. Is this wrong? Lovely, lovely pics Alice!
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterandi
In that first photo, you have the most pefectly feathered hair. Bershon or not, you're still gorgeous!
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth
That was an awesome interview, and i mean awesome in a totally non-bershon way.

You really are the bees knees. I think that rather suits you in your skirts and cardigans.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjess
Somewhere Eric Stoltz is turning over in his grave over those first two pictures.
March 22, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbraine
Hysterical! I have a totally Bershon picture of myself at about 10 years old standing behind the teddy bear cake my grandmother lovingly baked me for my birthday. I look like the most disgusted, chubby little bitch in the world!
March 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna
I am so going to start going through pictures. I was the most bershon teen ever. I loved your pictures. Do you think teens will stop being bershon now that we "old" people think it is so funny?
March 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDM
Has Sarah been calling my 4 year old son?????
March 22, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteraimee/greeblemonkey
AWEsome!
March 22, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterleah
OK, bershon, yes, but -- CUTE! What a little Molly Ringwald-esque cutie you were.
March 22, 2007 | Unregistered Commentervictoria
Just exquisitely Bershon. It really brings a tear to the eye.
March 23, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermissbanshee
Oh. Oh. OH! It really does. Tear to the eye. Total bitter angsty perfection, aged nicely, with a good oaky start.

But the Bershon has disappeared! Where are you hiding it now? You are just dewy and glowy now!
March 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJenn
Whoah. So THAT's what I did to my mother. I didn't know it had a name. The mere sight of my mother made my upper lip fly up to my nose, my eyes roll, and my mouth say "Mo-therrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr." I even had one of those one-side-missing haircuts, so I was particularly lovely.
March 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
Oh sweet jeebus, I think I just fell in love with you a little bit.
March 23, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterschmutzie
I love that there's a word for that whole weird emo-y thing, and that all your pictures have that awesome old-school soft focus thing going on.
March 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie
Okay Alice, forget what I said above. I gave into the Bershon and celebrated you, Sarah Brown and other Bershon bloggers of note in my latest BlogHer post:

So Mighty, So Deadly, So Bershon

I even threw in a particularly savage Bershon pic of my teenager, but I have a hard time looking at it without wanting to holler, "HEY! WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL HERE? SMILE, FOR CHRISSAKES!" (Actual quote. It doesn't work.)
March 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGrace D
I'm sure I made that expression NUMEROUS times when I was a teenager (also in the 80s).Now I work at a regional theater, in the costume shop. When schools come to see shows, they often have tours through the oh-so-exciting backstage areas. We will often have an entire group of 20 or so high school kids standing there with this expression on their faces. I often want to ask them if it's "This is so LAME!" or "This is SO lame!!"
March 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa
That's very authentically emo. There are 17-year-olds boys all over the country in skinny jeans with hair in their faces trying so desperately to emulate that blase expression you had perfected by five. I get that face a lot when I'm subbing.

Really though, great post.
March 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJackie

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