Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Me and Mr. Blackwell

I was thinking about my clothes sense or lack thereof through my school years and decided here's another blog post.

In elementary school I wore pretty much whatever my mom picked out for me. That, in the lower grades, meant wearing pants categorized as "husky." No PC back then - just a straight "husky" label instead of "relaxed fit." My pants were generally blue jeans or, which made husky pants appear worse than they were, corduroy. Frequently they'd have patches because I would fall on the yard and skid a hole through the knee. And they had folded-up cuffs because they were too long; it was more economical to buy them long so I didn't outgrow them, but then if I wound up tearing holes in them that defeated the purpose, don't you think? Husky.. why don't they use that description any more?

Shoes.. ah, my shoes. Round-toed, plain and practical from Buster Brown. Every other kid in our class wore pointy-toed shoes. And I mean pointy - they came to a compass point in the toe section. Despite my whining and begging for my own pointy pair, my mom would inform me just how bad those were for my feet and how my round-toed Buster Browns were infinitely healthier.

Yet, one time she caved and allowed me to get my very first pair of pointy-toed shoes. Not as extreme as my classmates, but nonetheless way different from my Buster Browns, purchased from Asahi Shoes in J-Town. I proudly wore them to school the following Monday and made a point (no pun intended) of standing with one foot way out in front of the other when talking to my friends. And when no one noticed, waving my foot around until one finally did. "Hey! Where did you get those shoes? You got pointy shoes!" he exclaimed. I beamed. I was part of the club.

Now all of us walk funny but I walk a little bit less funny because I got a later start.

And shirts.. we were required to tuck in our shirts. Only hoods walked around with their shirt tails hanging out. Thing is, I used to run around and my shirt tail would ease its way out. My mom's solution was to tuck my shirt inside of my underwear, not just inside of my pants. That got old pretty quick when people started pointing at me and chanting, "teacher teacher I declare..."

I had one shirt that was my enemy. It was wool. It was long-sleeved. And it made me itch like crazy. I can still picture it to this day, that vomit-colored garment that laughed at me each time I was forced to wear it, little fuzz frizzing out in all directions torturing me. Not only that, but try wearing that kind of shirt when you are running around on the playground getting all sweaty. It was not pleasant. You can imagine my elation when the shirt finally became too small.

Boys were required to wear straight-legged pants and girls had to wear skirts or dresses in junior high. In the 9th grade, once in a while a special day was declared for which the boys could wear bell-bottomed pants and girls could wear culottes. But, as it was very seriously pointed out to us, "bell bottoms and culottes were a privilege, not a right."

On bell-bottom day I was decked out. Dark bell-bottom pants, a dark turtleneck, a chain with a pendant around my neck (these were the hippie days, you know) and my Concert Honor Orchestra (CHO) sweater. Actually the pants were more flared than bell-bottomed.

What was a CHO sweater? I played the violin in Foshay's orchestra. You could earn a school letter by doing this, and also get medals from playing in various festivals and competitions. Supposedly Foshay's orchestra had a high reputation among all the junior highs, although I wonder if that was really true or if it was just something every junior high's music teacher told their students. Sort of like how in Los Angeles the T-Birds were the world roller derby champs but when you went to another city, that city's roller derby team was the world champion.

Each semester our orchestra would play at a festival along with several other schools, and be rated by judges. A "first" meant a blue medal, a "second" a red one, and a third was green. Our motto, when sizing up our competition as we got off the busses and took our seats in whatever auditorium the festival was held was, "they might beat us on the stage but we'll see who wins in the parking lot afterwards."

Getting back to the CHO sweater, I earned a big "F" (for Foshay) and purchased a Foshay royal blue sweater on which to sew it, along with pinning my medals on the pockets. It was something not every student could attain, so I wore it proudly. And it was part of my "uniform" on bellbottom day.

When we got to high school, the dress code was muhc more relaxed and they could care less if you wore bell bottoms or tucked in your shirt or whatever, as long as you weren't obscene. So I'll end here and won't mention anything I wore in high school, like the "Keep on Truckin'" patch I sewed at the bottom of my jeans, or the safari jacket with belt or any of that other stuff. Or later in college with my Saturday Night Fever polythreads. Or stuff like that. I won't mention it.

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