Seventh grade was scary.
It was bad enough that I had to go to school at an entirely different campus and that I had to have six teachers instead of one. Worse, they threw in kids from other grade schools and neighborhoods, and everyone else was bigger than me. The worst yet, P.E. (physical education) was a required class on which I actually had to be graded, which took the fun out of all the sports.
To top it off? I had to shower at school. Had to. It was required.
I still remember that first day. There I was, a scrawny little 12-year-old girl sliding suspicious glances at our coach, the rumored lesbian. She stood at one of the entryways to the showers, clipboard in hand, checking our names off to make sure we each did as we were supposed to, and eyeing our bare shoulders.
“And none of that sprinkling yourself with drops of water with all of your underwear on!” she bellowed as she looked knowingly at us. “Take a real shower.”
Goodie-two-shoes that I was, I took her words to heart and was actually stripped down to nothing underneath my towel. Everyone else secretly kept their underwear on, hidden beneath their own towels. I might have noticed and followed suit if I hadn’t been so preoccupied with where I planned on taking my shower. I wanted to pick a spot away from everyone and everything, somewhere in the far corner, where only a minimum number of people could actually see me naked.
I ended up choosing a spot across from Cindy, who apparently was the only one already showering—and quite freely at that. She seemed to be completely unfazed about the whole thing, so I started to feel better about the situation, too.
I could do this, I thought. After all, showering in public was no big deal.
I stepped gingerly toward the standing water pipe, one hand clutching the towel knot at my chest and the other hand reaching for one of the faucets on the pipe. It was at that moment that I noticed how wet the floor was; somehow my foot found its way to the edge of a giant puddle, and before I knew it—
My foot slipped out from under me, and I fell with a thud on my behind.
The fall caught me completely by surprise, which resulted in the loosening of my grip on the towel. The knot, naturally, came undone, and the ends of the towel spread out like wings, falling to the ground like dead sails.
Before I could even grasp what was happening, I heard Cindy laugh—belly-deep laughs that rang with echoes in that shower end of the locker room. Hastily, I tried to get up, pulling my towel out from under me as I did so.
…and fell down yet again as my bare ass met the cold, wet floor with a smack.
Cindy’s laughter exploded even more, if that was possible. My towel, in the meantime, had decided to leave me, having flown from my hand in a lazy arc that ended right in the puddle.
I felt flush with panic and embarrassment. I had to get up (and stay up) so that Cindy would stop laughing so hard. I managed to get a foot underneath me, but then the heel slipped in the water, and I fell down yet again.
There I was, naked and sprawled, with Cindy in the stall across from me, pointing at me and laughing her head off. Not a dainty little girl laugh, mind you. Tomboy Cindy was laughing like a loon, so hard that she couldn’t even breathe. I can’t imagine what my face must have looked like. No doubt it added fuel to the fire that was Cindy’s mirth.
It was a long, long time before I managed to get up with whatever dignity I had left—an even longer time before the echoes of her belly laughs wore out.
I’m telling you, seventh grade was scary. I still bear the scars of that day.Share this post: