Collin just walked in the door from school. It’s Friday, P.E. day for him. It’s the last class of the day so he comes home in his track suit in various moods.
Today’s mood? Disgruntled.
It’s rugby time in P.E., a sport Collin is not thrilled will. Even better, it’s all done outside. And today? It’s raining. So at some point, they were all down on the ground in the mud.
He’s so thrilled. And wet.
I do have some degree of sympathy for him. I was never fond of gym class. I am not an athletic gal. Never was. I spent a good portion of my freshman year of high school in the nurse’s office getting an ice pack to place on the imprint of whatever sport’s ball was on my face (tennis/volley/foot). By spring, I had at least learned how to duck, so I never got a softball in the face.
But those blows to the face weren’t the most traumatic part of high school gym class. Nor was it the shorty shorts they forced us to wear back in 1988. Or making 75 girls square dance for six weeks.
No. It was swimming.
Yes, my high school had a pool. So of course, we had to take six weeks of swimming freshman AND sophomore year. Just in case they didn’t humiliate you enough the first year, they got a second chance at it.
Did I mention it was a co-ed gym class?
So, at 14 years of age, they would shuffle us all into the proper changing rooms, where we first had to shower before getting our school-issued bathing suit. The female gym teacher would sit by the closet of swim suits and hand them out once you finished showering.
No, you’re reading it correctly – we had to wear a bathing suit they provided.
As if that wasn’t fun enough, they were color coded by size. By size. BY SIZE! COLOR CODED!
The only safe color was red. Red was the “normal” size. Blue meant you were too skinny, green meant you were overweight. There was also the dreaded black bathing suit, but no one ever needed that in my class.
Now, this is the only part where the girls lucked out. Our suits were 1950’s style full coverage suits, including a little extra fabric panel across the front bottom edge, just across the crotch. In case you had any inkling of stealing one of these beauties, each suit had the letters OLCHS down the front in black marker.
The boys wore Speedos. I have no clue if they were marked up with the school initials. I never looked.
But wait! There’s more!
Even being in the red suit category didn’t mean you were out of all danger. Oh noooo! Most of the red suits…were long torso suits. There were a handful of short torso ones. There was no distinguishing of the two except a rumor that the slightly more faded red suits were the shorter torso’ed ones. The problem with the long torso suits was that when you swam forward, water would cause it to float open more. Much to the boys delight.
One girl brought in safety pins, to try to pin the shoulder straps tighter. She was chastised. Pins might ruin these precious items! So then we figured out that we could use hair ties to bind up the extra strap length. Not pretty, but it worked.
Now, once you were showered, wrangled on the suit over your damp skin, put on the swim cap, you had to go line up on the pool deck. Where you could not bring a towel out onto. There you stood, cold, wet, arms strategically crossed in a certain way depending if you were a boy or a girl, hopefully wearing a red suit.
The only comfort was that everyone was suffering the same humiliating scenario.
But wait! Yes! There is more still!!!
If you were a girl during a certain time of the month, you got to wear your street clothes and announce to the class that you had your period. It was especially fun if you had the teacher I had sophomore year, who believed that a girl’s cycle could only last five days, no more. And he counted weekends.
Good times…goooooooood times…
Six weeks of this fun. Every dang day. After a while, you became numb to it all. But you never truly forgot. Oh no.
My son should be grateful to be playing rugby, in the rain, fully clothed. Because it could be so SO much worse.