Signing someone’s yearbook in elementary, middle, and high school meant serious business. People waited nine months to speak their mind and they did not fuck around with the privilege. The lead up to the yearbook’s arrival would almost be unbearable and then when you got your hands on one, you were faced with the arduous task of writing and getting the perfect inscriptions. It defined who you were in school. If someone was like, “Oh me, oh my! I’m running out of space in my yearbook!” you knew this person was super popular. But when the sad girl with halitosis asked if you could sign her yearbook, you weren’t surprised to see a million “HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!”‘s littered across her page.
Oh my god, was there anything worse than “Have a great summer?” You might as well have written “Piss off and die, you social pariah!” Whenever someone would write that in my yearbook, I would basically weep in the corner and be like, “Why does this person hate me so much? I thought we were friends!” Granted, I also would hand out “Have a great summer”s like they were bombs to all of the people I didn’t really like. The pen was truly mightier than the sword.
What’s perhaps even more intense than “Have a great summer” or “Never Change!” is when your BFF signed your yearbook. You would swap with excitement and both ask if you could have some time writing it. You then would each spend at least half the day composing a whole page of the most gooey Judy Blume sentiments about your friendship. “i’m so glad we got so close this year. you are a true friend.” etc. etc. Then you would hand them to each other at the same time, read what they wrote intently in opposite corners of the room, and then have a tender embrace. There would also be tears. Yearbooks are all about crying tears of joy, sadness, anger, and confusion. Every time someone signs yours, you are brought this much closer to a teenage nervous breakdown.
Speaking of nervous breakdowns, let’s talk about what happens when your crush signed your yearbook. Jesus, just thinking about it gives me ultra teenage anxiety. When you give your crush that book, you’re giving them free reign to either ruin or make your life. You are quite literally signing your life away. But let’s say you do it and your crush signs it with something like this, “hey. u r really funny. see you in the fall!” That’s not good enough. That means you’re spending the rest of the afternoon crying because you wrote in their yearbook, “hey. i think you’re really cool. let’s hang out this summer. 805-555-5555.” Yeah, dude. You gave your number out, which is like yearbook porn. And if that’s not reciprocated, it feels like the ultimate rejection. On the other hand, they could totally pull a John Hughes on you and be really flirty and suggestive. I mean, if you’re going to get real with someone, you’re going to do it in their yearbook. It’s where everything goes down.
I wonder though if yearbook culture has changed because of the internet. When I was in middle and high school, Facebook didn’t exist and Myspace was just happening. What you wrote was special because you weren’t expressing your love for someone four times a day on their wall. Tell me young TC readers. Has the internet taken away the power of the yearbook?
Here’s a quick key to translating yearbook signings:
Have a great summer = We aren’t friends and I have nothing to say to you.
Never change = Who are you?
Here’s my number = Let’s make out this summer
You are my best friend = Let’s go to the mall and get our pictures taken!
You are one rad dude = We’re not really friends but we should be but we won’t and I’m stoned