Where I write

Where I write

August 11, 2014

The Girl's Locker Room

As part of my high school reunion last week, a tour was planned of my alma mater, James B. Conant. As one of the current science teachers, John Shoro, generously took his time to explain and show us the many changes at the high school, I began to feel as if I didn't recognize the place I'd spent four years. There were more windows, the latest technology and sky lights, for goodness sakes, in the cafeteria.

Until the tour stopped near the girl's locker room. Pushing open the girl's locker room door and stepping inside felt as if I had crossed a cosmic threshold and been sent back to 1974. No drugs needed. Only when looking into mirror, which I swear was the same mirror from the 1970s, all battered and foamy, was I reminded that I was not 16 anymore. Darn. The place smelled the same too, a combination of worn tennis shoes, sweaty gym socks and old flooring.

That green tiled room pictured above was the girl's showers. That room scared me more than Math class, or Vice Principal Butler.  It looks exactly the same, as if it had been preserved in time for us to visit, a shrine of sorts to the gym locker Gods. Or demons. Girls were required to take showers after gym. The only way you could get out of taking a shower, or so I thought, was if you had your menstrual period and then you would say M to one of the nasty gym teachers. (I won't name names, as they are probably dead now, but I can still see their scowling and pinched faces.) The gym teacher would write M in some official-looking book. I'd say M quietly, fearing I'd be challenged, but I always got away with not getting naked. May I say I think the female gym teachers of the 1970s would have been way nicer if they could have let their rainbow flags fly. No judgement. Just saying.

After talking with several other women on the tour last week, I learned that no one liked taking the showers. In fact, everyone said they avoided them. I swear I remember a bunch of naked girls in that green tiled room, but I guess we were all escaping the hot water.  I thought I was the only one horrified to get naked in front of everyone. Now I go to spas and get massages, yada yada, outdoor hot tubs where people soak naked, but when you're a teenager and insecure about all your body's changes...really? Scary. We laughed and took photos of ourselves dancing around with our clothes on in the shower because, though we might not be teenagers anymore, sometimes we still act as if we are.  And there were no gym teachers there to yell at us to stop. Nah nah.

This is what our gym uniform looked like. It had snaps and our name stenciled on the fabric. I always felt so ugly in my gym uniform, but then who would  feel attractive in a navy blue romper? No wonder women my age like to wear cute yoga pants and fun tight t-shirts to exercise. Remembering these ugly outfits makes one want to wear something pink and tight or at least without an elastic waist. No wonder I dreaded gym, and not just because I was crummy at field hockey and gymnastics.
This might just look like an average bulletin board to you, but this bulletin board held the fate of many aspiring pom pom girls. It is in the entry way of the girl's locker room. STILL. Forty years later. It was board were the list was posted for those who made the pom pom squad each year following try outs. It was the place were I cried when I did not make the squad. It is the place where I jumped with joy when I did make the pom pom squad.
Seeing the board made me want to write or post something there. I don't know what. I do know that I made sure to ask our teacher tour guide, John Shoro, many questions and learn because I realize now that my pom pom abilities of smiling and shaking shiny stuff in the air didn't always equate with career success.  Maybe I could write that on the bulletin board. Have fun girls, but listen to your teacher and don't get sent into the hall a lot for talking too much in class about pom pom try outs.

Even if the locker room still had the scary shower, and smelled stinky, I think if there had been cocktails served us girls would have stayed awhile and had a drink together and chatted. As long as we didn't have to take off our clothes I think we would have been just fine.


Rita A. said...

What a fun post. We all have those memories. Our gym outfits were red shorts and a white blouse. I guess we were lucky. lol

Stella said...

I had a romper type thing too - maroon with white trim. It zipped up the front. I must have hated the showers so much that I've blocked them out entirely. I can't remember them at all. Your reunion looks like it was a lot of fun.