13: The wonder year Like, it's Chelsea's birthday

February 27, 1993|By Jean Marbella | Jean Marbella,Staff Writer

We're like, "Happy birthday, Chelsea!" Like, you're 13!

The nation's First Daughter -- OK, so she's really only Bill and Hillary Clinton's daughter -- indeed turns the big 1-3 today. And if that's not enough, this birthday comes as she is adjusting to a new house, new school, new ballet class and, most of all, the kind of new attention from total strangers that could make anyone, much less a newly minted teen-ager, hyperspazz.

While the White House is keeping a lock on most details of this transition, we went to some experts to get the State of the Union, 13-year-old girl-wise: what TV shows they watch; what music they like; which celebrities they'd like to meet; what they think about their friends and, of course, themselves; and, generally, what they think of the world at large.

We spoke with four students at Catonsville Middle School: Anna Deal and Vickie Hipszer, both 13; and Ellen Gibson and Nekia Randall, who will be 13 in two and six months, respectively.

And at Bryn Mawr, we spoke to these 13-year-olds: Laura Lattman of Guilford, Joelle Novey of Roland Park, Lydia Traill of Sparks, Corinne Berk-Smith of Columbia and Yasmin Zerhouni of Ruxton.

Here is just a bit of the wit and the wisdom we gleaned from these totally engaging -- when they weren't being totally exasperating -- 13-year-old girls.

On being 13

Ah, the gateway to the teen-age years. The first step toward adulthood. The blossoming of womanhood. Not!

"I was kind of waiting for it to be a big thing -- I would be a new person. But I wasn't. I guess I thought I would feel more mature and I thought I'd be more responsible and not be a kid anymore," Corinne says.

RTC "When I turned 13, everyone in my mom's office gave her these books, like, 'Your Teenager and You,' and 'How Your Body's Changing,' " Laura says in a can-you-believe-it tone. "I'm like, 'Excuse you!' "

"And every time you have a problem, they're like, 'Oh, she's at that awkward age,' " Yasmin says.

"Sometimes, you don't want people to understand you," Laura says. "Oh, and another thing -- when you're younger, you know what you're supposed to do. Then, when you get older, they stop telling you what to do, so you don't know. Like, what am I supposed to do?"

Boys, regular

Well, as a concept, 13-year-old girls like boys. But this is verging on the personal, so parents: You won't get any secrets from us.

Ellen says she likes "older boys." Like, college boys? "No, not that old -- between 13 to 15," she says.

"Dating" appears to involve either going to the movies, renting a video and watching it at home, going out in a group or talking on the phone.

Big concern: How is Chelsea ever going to go out on a date with all those Secret Service men hanging around?

Boys, famous

Chelsea asked to see the movie, "Untamed Heart" for her birthday -- a copy was sent for viewing in the White House screening room -- and got a letter from its star, Christian Slater.

Which drew a round of sighs from some of the local girls.

"Ooooohhhh. I wouldn't mind being her," Vickie says.

None of the girls at Catonsville could think of another star they liked as much, although Nekia put in a vote for Kevin Costner. And Anna says she has a friend "who for some reason loves Brady Anderson" of the Orioles.

"My mother likes Richard Gere," offers Vickie. "But I don't get it."


Some of the girls readily admit to inhaling a lot of TV -- old reruns, MTV and series that fluctuate in and out of popularity.

Several Catonsville girls report "Class of '96" is a current fave, while the formerly approved "Beverly Hills 90210" is outoutout.

They like "Saturday Night Live," too, but hate it when they make fun of Chelsea. "That's so rude," Vickie says. "She's only a kid," adds Ellen (who, incidentally, gets teasingly called Chelsea these days because of her similarly wild brown mane).

Yasmin likes shows she can make fun of: "I love 'Melrose Place.' Like, 'Oh, we're all so gorgeous, and we all live in the same apartment complex, and we all have affairs with each other.' "


The announcer introduced 10,000 Maniacs at MTV's inaugural ball as Chelsea's favorite band, but we found that 13-year-olds have quite wide-ranging tastes in music.

Several of the Bryn Mawr girls like "oldies," like Simon and Garfunkel, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin and the Steve Miller Band. And, more current, The Beautiful South.

At Catonsville Middle, everyone, Ellen says, likes heavy metal or rap. Nekia likes Kriss Kross, Ellen likes Megadeath, Vickie likes Metallica.


Getting invited to a sleep-over at Chelsea's is the hot ticket in Washington these days. And sleep-overs -- no one calls them slumber parties -- are indeed a preferred form of partying among 13-year-old girls.

Parents are not invited. They should make themselves scarce. Like, take a state visit, President Clinton.

Who they are -- or aren't

"The thing to be afraid of now is to be a preppie. The preppies are like, 'I'm not a preppie.' So the alternative has become the mainstream," Laura explains.

"People want to be Bohemians now," Lydia agrees.

Totally preppie place: Towson Commons.

"I was doubly embarrassed the other day -- I went to see "Aladdin," and it was at Towson Commons," Lydia confesses.

What they do

Homework. Play basketball, soccer and softball. Go to ballet class. Take piano lessons. Go to movies. Buy clothes at The Gap. Hang out. Baby-sit. Or not.

On the world

"When do we get to talk about politics?" Lydia asks after a while.

Right now.

"I'm pro-choice," Lydia declares.

"All of my politics come from my parents, except the environment. That came from me," Joelle says.

Birthday presents

Ellen is asking for a Trek mountain bike and a CD player for her birthday. A big party also can be part of the present, some girls said. Money is always accepted.

But what do 13 year olds really want?

To be 16.

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