You Must Remember This: the make out session


This is a scholarly paper on a social phenomenon which in the normal course of things would appear in the American Journal of Sociology, but as it was a phenomenon unique to Newport Beach it seems only fitting that it should first appear here. The phenomenon involved eighth graders at Ensign in the ‘50s, and rather than confuse the lay reader with bothersome scientific terms I will simply refer to it by its common nomenclature: the make out party. Minutes and minutes have been spent researching the subject as can be seen in the detailed footnotes accompanying the text.

As to how it functioned, the make out party was an event of rigorous parameters:

*The party was held in a private home.

*The parents of the young person hosting were at home but did not make an appearance. (1. The author never held a make out party because her parents had the misguided notion that they had a responsibility to wander through the party room once or twice during the evening which would have been horribly embarrassing for the author.)

*There was a musical trigger that sparked the activity on which this paper is focused. (2. This was the 45 record “Dream,” not to be confused with the Everly Brothers’ “Dream, Dream, Dream.” The “Dream” here referred to (“Dream, when You’re Feeling Blue”) was written by Johnny Mercer, a prominent songwriter of such classics as “Jeepers Creepers,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Something’s Gotta Give” and many others. Mercer’s daughter, Amanda Mercer, attended Harbor High, but the author has not been able to establish if she also attended Ensign and was perhaps responsible for introducing her father’s song as the trigger. In that same vein, it is not known if Amanda ever participated in the phenomenon.)

*Like Pavlov’s conditioned dogs, at the trigger (“Dream, see note 2) the partygoers reacted in a consistent fashion, breaking into couples and sitting on the various couches and chairs where they began necking. The necking was quite chaste – no open lips, no groping. (3. Author’s personal experience.)

*After extensive delving (4. Question to author’s husband generating blank stare) it is presumed the phenomenon was not part of the East Coast middle school experience, reinforcing the theory that it was strictly local.

*The phenomenon appears to have disappeared sometime after the ‘50s. (5. Joint text sent to author’s daughter and three grandchildren generating the following: From granddaughter, “I indeed did not do that, but I love that I now know you did.” From grandson, “That would be no from me.” From other grandson, “Would have liked to, but no.” Emoji with quizzical raised eyebrow from daughter.)

*While enthusiastically embraced by those attending, the phenomenon caused some consternation among adults. (6. Misunderstanding by author’s father who interpreted making out as going all the way – as close as anyone got to specific terminology in those days – subsequently clarified as to the difference between his generation’s definition of making out and author’s.)

The author does not know if neighboring cities had a similar phenomenon, because the Santa Ana River might as well have been the Mississippi in terms of separating Newport from its northern neighbor, the exception being the occasional football game where the city to the north invariably kicked Newport’s butt. As to the city to the south, it was understood that the inhabitants were all artists and thus either crazy wild or crazy tame, and in either case not the sort to be invited to a party.

Understanding that considerable interest will be stirred by this study, the author looks forward to explorations on the demise of the phenomenon. Meanwhile, she wishes to make clear that as of this printing, film rights are available.


Nancy Gardner, former Mayor of Newport Beach, long-time resident and daughter of Judge Robert Gardner, is a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.


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