Thursday, August 30, 2012

Skill Set

In 1979, at the age of 11, I enrolled in the 7th grade at Clark Intermediate School.  At that time, junior high was a sort of puberty holding cell.  To this day, I credit Clark Intermediate School with the sort of life skills that would have served me more effectively in moderate security detention than they served me in the overly-educated upper middle class prep school teacher lifestyle that I instead selected.

Chief among those skills was the business of coping in a locker room.  In the 7th grade, we were required to wear ridiculously old-fashioned, blue, one-piece romper-style gym uniforms.  We changed into them under the watchful eye of Miss Rich, endured PE class, and filed back into the locker room for the daily torture that was the post-gym "shower."  We were instructed to change out of the rompers and take a shower with only a thin, postage-stamp sized towel to cover us from the watchful eyes of our adolescent peers.

It was hell.

In the 8th grade, the school joined the modern era and we were assigned shorts and t-shirts for gym uniforms.  Changing out of our street clothes into the gym uniform allowed some modest protection.  We all learned the adolescent shimmy-shake, pulling our shirt half-way off while tugging on the gym shirt over our head, confident that we were shielding our breasts from prying adolescent eyes.  That was a useful skill but it isn't the one I most remember.  What I most remember was the day al  the girls filed into the hot still gym with our stylish new gym clothes in hand.  We sat in neat rows while Miss Rich taught us how to fold them up.  We were instructed to fold the shorts in half and place them on top of the shirt, which we laid open on the floor of the gym.  Then we rolled the items together, leaving the sleeves exposed.
Once a tube was created, we folder one sleeve over the edge, to hold the tube of clothes secure.
Then we folded the other sleeve over the edge, like so.
Now carefully wrapped, we could take our clothes home each Friday and then bring them back, freshly laundered (and properly wrapped!) on the following Monday morning.   We practiced this act several times that day in the gym while Miss Rich and the other gym teachers strolled up and down the rows to ensure we knew what the hell we were doing.

Unless enduring affection for the music of Journey and AC/DC and the ability to swear like a sailor count, this was the only useful skill I got out of junior high.  I tried to teach the method to JT when he needed to bring gym clothes to school.  He rejected it as "lame."  I am forced to use it myself only infrequently, as I did the other day when I was packing things up for our trip to the water park.  

Miss Rich would be so very proud.

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