I’d Rather Be Shopping for School Supplies

Bikinis are on the clearance rack, Michael’s and JoAnn’s have begun decking the halls, and the CW is airing Gossip Girl previews – all unsettling clues that the end of summer is upon us. Yet while the years of three-month vacations are far behind me, I can’t help but miss that feeling of end-of-summer melancholy morphing into back-to-school excitement.

The nostalgia emerges briefly as I roam through Bed Bath & Beyond and see the college freshmen-to-be selecting their color-coordinating comforters and lampshades, but where I truly feel wistful is at Target. My basketful of grown-up fabulousness (wine, clearance-rack bikini, and a new Nintendo Wii controller) feels inadequate next to the bounty of colored pencils and Harry Potter notebooks. And all I can feel is that I’d rather be shopping for my favorite school supplies of yore:

Trapper Keeper: In the 80s and 90s, there was no better way to separate your spelling tests from your permission slips from your love notes than with this Velcro-clad organizational wizard.

Lisa Frank Anything: Miss Frank was the Martha Stewart of school supplies. Her fusion of rainbows and unicorns and butterflies and puppies was a girly dream come true.

The Protractor: Never have I enjoyed a school supply as much as the frivolous protractor. My inaugural protractor was a pink see-through version which I insisted my mother purchase although I was several years from geometry. I still own it and use it never.

Mr. Sketch Smelly Markers: This was the holy grail of school supplies and while I begged and pleaded to get these every year – I always ended up with the more economical (and decidedly un-smelly) Crayolas. I may or may not have swiped myself a blueberry from the class stash.

Kleenex: I’ve always wondered if this was a universally required “supply” or if Illinois schools were just a little snifflier than others, but my goal in life was to be the kid who brought the coolest-looking boxes of tissues on the first day of school. This is why I’m not a rocket scientist.

Notebooks: There’s no better way to show off your favorite cartoons, colors or what it would look like if you put your first name in front of the boy in the next row’s last name.

While I admit that test-taking, running “the mile,” and reversible gym shirts with a big white name label are very happily behind me, I’ll always miss the thrill of walking into school with my new outfit, my new backpack, and my new protractor.

What do you miss most from your school supply days?

About WhiteElephantInTheRoom

I'm an 80s music lover, traveling junkie, mac & cheese connoisseur, amateur wine snob, party-planning priestess and Chicago transplant living in Southern California. I find adventure in the everyday and have a unending compulsion to write about it. Hope you enjoy reading my mind!
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12 Responses to I’d Rather Be Shopping for School Supplies

  1. So did the joys of the compass, and its ‘you could have somebody’s eye out with that’ sharp, dagger-like point, not make it into American schools?

  2. notquiteold says:

    Pink Pearl Erasers….they smelled so good!

  3. College & Other Pesky Things says:

    I always loved going to buy a new lunch box… even though I would be a ‘packer’ for 2 weeks, then buy the entire rest of the year….

  4. Katie says:

    I know EXACTLY what you mean. I’ve still got a few years left of undergrad in which I get to buy some fun school supplies but now I feel like they have to be a bit more sophisticated. I’ll admit–I get excited just looking at aisle upon aisle of brightly colored pens. And I remember elementary school shopping–Lisa Frank was a school supply goddess (but my mom would never buy that stuff for me because it was so dang expensive).

  5. Emelie says:

    I’m a teenage (still in school, obviously), but I LOVE school supplies! It’s what gets me excited about school, what keeps me moving and motivates me to finish one…more…math…equation! It’s a life saver.

  6. Lindsay says:

    Yes, yes, yes! My mom and I once knew of a family friend who did all of the school supply shopping WITHOUT HER KIDS because she felt like the kids slowed her down. My mom and I just stared… Child abuse! Should we call the authorities!? You can’t leave your child out of school supply shopping experience!

    Lisa Frank “Cleo-catra” was the best. I just Google-imaged LIsa Frank for a piece of nostalgia and my heart melted a little. Ballerina bunnies, hugging penguins, panda-in-a-rainbow-paint-can, ahhhh!!

    Also on the list should be those pencil cases that were really more of a nuisance than a case – they held maybe three pencils, but they had all of those buttons that made pencil sharpeners and erasers and god-knows-what pop out from the sides. I never had one, but I envied my friends who did!

  7. klkincaid says:

    lisa frank was the bomb.com when I was younger! I think she grew up to marry ed hardy.

    I love the smell of a good school supply section as well!

  8. klkincaid says:

    lisa frank was the bomb.com when I was younger! I think she grew up to marry ed hardy. also, trapper keepers were banned from my school growing up. true story. we think it’s because the administration didn’t want to single out the “less fortunate” kids…

    I love the smell of a good school supply section as well!

  9. I always buy a new pack of sharpies this time of year.. they have 80s glam out right now that is pretty fabulous.
    Makes me feel important!

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