I remember in middle school when we started having to change clothes for gym. I was mortified by the idea of seeing my classmates naked or much worse, them seeing me naked. I was raised by my grandmas to be very demure and ladylike. My private parts were to be kept strictly private and hidden from view. Now here we are being forced to take our clothes off in front of each other like animals. Animals that wear clothes.
It wasn't that I had a real reason to be ashamed, apart from the one bred into me by Christianity. I know that I was lucky when it came to the unremarkably average department. Some girls were already struggling with weight issues while some had already developed enormous breasts and others still had no breasts at all. I had none of these problems. I was developing in a normal, healthy way. (At least physically.) Yet,the thought of getting naked in front of my classmates shook me to my core. I don't know why. I hadn't even seen the movie Carrie yet.
We had it pretty easy at my middle school. Mrs. Seifert, our gym teacher, had to enforce the rule that we all showered after class (I'm still not really sure why this was important. Middle school girls PE classes, in my experience, never really caused anyone to sweat) but she was understanding of our insecurities. All we had to do was strip down to our underpants and bras. We could even wrap a towel around us and keep it on. All we had to do was walk into the shower and put an arm in the water. Now that I think of it, that was really weird. Why was it so important that we showered but we didn't actually have to shower? Seems contradictory.
The shower room was one large room with no dividers, just like in Carrie. All the showers would be turned on and left on as we all took our turns walking into the room, in our towels, and stuck our arms and legs into a stream
of water. Then we would walk out and show the wet arm to Mrs. Seifert. No washing hair. No washing armpits. No real showering at all. In retrospect it was just a huge waste of everyone's time and a fuck ton of water.
There were probably some girls that actually got naked and washed themselves. I don't remember. I was too busy making sure nothing of mine was exposed. It must have been some right of passage, some test to prepare us for the real world, I guess. I'm really searching for a reason here.
By the time we got to high school the gym teachers didn't care if we showered or not. But some girls still did. So clearly not everyone had the same issues as I did. They were probably on sports teams together and had really needed to take a shower at school sometimes so it was no big deal to them.
I was a pro at hiding my semi-naked, semi-developed little body. I would take my gym shirt off with the locker door opened to block me. I practically crawled inside of the locker. Then, I would wrap the towel around my training bra clad chest and then under the safety of my towel I would remove my gym shorts and head into the shower room.
Then I would go back out to my locker and do the whole thing in reverse, putting my street clothes on under a towel as fast as I fucking could. I remember in the seventh grade, I came into math class with my shirt on backwards two days in a row. The kid behind me had to point it out. The first day we had a good laugh. The second day he thought I may have mental problems.
It wasn't that I minded gym class, though I was not an athlete. I liked having a break from sitting down and listening to teachers. I liked standing in the outfield talking to my friends only to be interrupted by three outs and then having to continue our conversation at the end of the kickball line, never actually playing anything.
My first stand up routine was born in that seventh grade PE class. I remember it well. We were doing drills with a soccer ball, taking turns kicking it around a series of cones. I had everyone laughing at the idea of being in a job interview and almost landing the job until the interviewer asks us to demonstrate our ball handling skills. Even the teacher was laughing despite the fact I was basically implying that her life's work was bullshit.
I've still never actually did a stand up routine and I still one day think I might. That was the first riff that got me so much laughter that I felt compelled to do it again. A few times. Until no one laughed anymore. I've spent the rest of my life trying to recreate that scenario, minus the balls of course. So the three things I learned in gym class are:
- How to hide my body in plain sight
- How to avoid responsibility
- That I really want people to think I'm funny.
I mean, that's more than I learned in Trig.