Diane Joy Schmidt

Instructions for How To Be Popular in Seventh Grade


Don’t go out on a date
Don’t go out on a date with Hal Picardi
Don’t call up your only friend, Janie Hughes
who you thought was your friend,
She was new at school, an army brat,
And you called to tell her


Hal took you behind the thrift store in the alley in the space between the buildings
And it was fall and cold
And he kissed you, you’d never been kissed,
And then he put his hand down your pants, you didn’t know why,
And you felt his fingers on you and it was wet.
And you stood there tight between the walls cold stock frozen
You felt things you didn’t know how to describe then or even later


You told Janie, “I went to 3rd base with Hal Picardi.”
You were excited to have something to share
And you were flattered when she said
Hang on just a minute I’ll be right back
And then she said
Can you repeat that, tell me again.

When you got to school the next day
kids were smirking at you, especially Martha Teller
and you didn’t know why and then
You just walked into 1st period, and there was Janie Hughes with
a crowd of kids around a huge tape recorder reel-to-reel playing over and over
And there was a voice it was hard to hear because it was static-y
and faint. So you listened two or three times before you realized it was
your voice,
you’d never heard your voice on tape before,
It was your voice, saying “I went to 3rd base with Hal Picardi.”
You were utterly


I didn’t know what the word was that I felt
But looking back now I was
Betrayed. Mortified. Angry. Ashamed. Humiliated.
And I ran out of the room.



After that it seemed,
I was popular with the boys,
but no one ever spoke to me again.


The photographs used in this piece are 50 year old school photos scanned and of unknown copyright.
They are reproduced here in accordance with “Fair Use” doctrine as defined in 17 USC Section 107.



Diane Joy Schmidt is a writer, journalist and photojournalist in New Mexico. She has received national awards for her essays, columns, investigative reporting, profiles, radio commentaries and photography books. Her work has appeared regularly in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, Gallup Independent, Navajo Times and The New Mexico Jewish Link. Diane often combines her photographic images with her writing.
She has a BA in Comparative Literature from Prescott College, a BFA in Photography from Rhode Island School of Design, a MA in the English/Creative Writing Program at The University of New Mexico, and is currently a candidate in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and New Media at Antioch University Santa Barbara.

Her favorite sweet treat: Coconut Squares from Mrs. Donald Korshak. “See you at the Ort meeting…”

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