By 8th grade I was all settled into this junior high school thing and it was great! I had made friends with a group of fun, funny girls and we had lots of harmless, immature fun, like having slumber parties, endlessly discussing and trading clothes, talking on the phone for hours, teasing, spraying and styling our hair — always trying for a new “look” (sometimes with unfortunate/comical consequences forever documented by our school pictures), and, of course, flirting with and discussing equally immature boys! Oh yeah, and studying sometimes.
But one time that is particularly memorable to me was when my friends Karen and Soupie (Susan was her real name) and I stepped over the line and got so wrapped up in a silly idea of something “fun” to do, that we couldn’t see what the consequences might be.
We had an hour for lunch each day and after we ate lunch, we could spend the rest of the hour as free time. On nice days, most students went outside and just socialized. But the building was open, so you could come and go as you pleased, and most of the teachers, except for a few who casually patrolled the halls, were in their rooms or the teacher’s lounge enjoying a little free time too. So, while the halls weren’t totally empty, there were very few people around during this time.
This particular day, as a group of us walked around outside, Karen kept adjusting the crinoline she was wearing under her skirt. It was an old one handed down to her by her older sister and the waistband was very weak, so it kept hanging down so that you could see it below the hem of her skirt. It was driving her crazy, so she just decided to take it off.
This would have been about 1959 and we still wore crinolines sometimes under our full skirts to make them look, well, fuller!
So Karen decided to go into the building to the restroom to take off the offending crinoline and Soupie and I went with her. But once she had taken it off, now what was she going to do with it? She thought about throwing it away, but she was afraid to do that without first showing it to her mom to see if it could be fixed. Our lockers were at the other end of the building and she really didn’t want to walk all the way down there carrying her crinoline. A real dilemma. Ah, but that’s what friends are for … I had a “brilliant” idea!
You know that locker that I talked about yesterday that I had struggled to open the year before? Well, it was just a few steps down the hall from where we were, and I still remembered the combination! I also knew that Mike, a shy guy in our class, had that locker this year. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we hung the crinoline in his locker, and then we could stand across the hall and watch to see his reaction when he opened it!?! Yes, “brilliant”, Sandra.
So that’s just what we did. Unfortunately for us, we weren’t very sneaky about it. A teacher who had a room near-by had noticed us (after we had already put the slip in the locker), and I ‘m sure could tell we were up to something, so she just watched. And we were having way too much fun anticipating how funny our little prank was going to be to notice that we were being noticed. So, we waited in clueless, excited anticipation for Mike to come into the building and return to his locker.
We didn’t have long to wait. Soon it was almost time for afternoon classes to start and Mike came to his locker to get his books. By this time, with lunch time almost over, all the kids were streaming back into the building, so the three giggling girls on the other side of the hall wouldn’t have been obvious to him. And when he opened his locker and saw the crinoline hanging in it, he stepped back and stood there staring at it with his mouth wide open. Just as we had hoped, he was dumbfounded. And across the hall, we were c.r.a.c.k.i.n.g u.p. We were soooo clever!
We had about two seconds to revel in our cleverness … before the teacher who had been watching us and now saw what we had done, pounced. First she walked over to Mike’s locker (as we watched in sudden horror) and took the evidence from the locker and told Mike she would take care of it. Then she walked directly to the three perps where we now stood frozen in fear across the hall and escorted us directly to the Principal’s office!
Yikes! None of us had ever been in trouble like this before. We were good kids! And I suppose that’s the reason that in the end Mr. Armstrong, the Principal, just gave us a stern talking to and then sent us on to class. The offending crinoline was put in a paper sack and Karen was told to take it directly to her locker.
I don’t remember any other punishment. But that was enough. We were mortified. And this experience definitely made us, and of course all our friends who we told about our visit to the Principal’s office, a little smarter about a line that shouldn’t be crossed when we were thinking up fun things to do.
I like to think we apologized to Mike too, but I honestly don’t remember doing it. But I’ve seen him at class reunions since, and he still speaks to me, so I guess he didn’t hold a grudge!
So, the moral to this story is that if you mix three silly, immature girls, an old crinoline, a shy guy, a locker that a year ago I couldn’t have opened on a bet and a sharp-eyed teacher … you get a very unlucky combination … especially for the three silly girls who earned themselves a trip to the Principal’s office!