Teen Daze

“Honey, I’m not hemming this skirt way up there. It won’t even cover your behind. People will get the wrong idea.”

“What’s the ‘wrong idea’?”

“That you’re cheap.”

“What does that mean?”

“No man wants used merchandise.”

Elizabeth shook her head. That didn’t make sense either.

The usual fight with mom over fashion. Elizabeth was petite. Any dress or skirt she bought at the store had to be shortened. On top of that, she made a lot of her own skirts and dresses. Mom HAD to mark the hems. There was no way out. Elizabeth shrugged. They’d reached a compromise; the middle of Elizabeth’s knee. Elizabeth wasn’t exactly happy about it, but the option was somewhere below the knee and seriously?

Elizabeth had found a way around mom’s puritanical totalitarianism.

By 7 am every morning she was out the door, books in hand. She raced down the short cut through the yards to Kathy’s — Kat’s — house. They had 20 minutes to get to school, a daily adventure that took them over an old trestle, across an open field, sideswiped the new mall, down two neighborhood streets, into the high school’s back door.

It was cold. February was fusty and ambivalent as ever, shooting them sharp snowflakes one minute, gusts of cold aggression the next, and blessing them with sun the next. Halfway through the field they looked around to see if anyone was looking. But who would? They lived in the furthest reaches of the city in a brand new neighborhood with brand new schools. They set their books on the ground and put one foot on their book pile in case the wind came up. They heisted up their coats, grabbed the waistband of their skirts and carefully rolled them. “Is it straight?” asked Kat, turning so Elizabeth could see her back.

“Yeah. Mine?”

“Looks good.”

They were set. The only danger was if they happened to sit on their skirts during some class or another, unrolling the back.

It was years before they understood why the boys liked sitting in discussion circles so much or why they were so clumsy with their pencils, always dropping them on the floor.


15 thoughts on “Teen Daze

  1. I was a Middle School Principal for 8 years. Girls had to have shorts, skirts, skirts, whatever, lol, no longer than a 💵 dollars length away from knee. On the first day, I’d show the girls a “regular” dollar and say, NOT this dollar (at that moment I whipped out my fake 18 inch dollar bill. Of course, they’d laugh and/or roll their eyes. Particularly if I had “substitute” attire for them. Lol

  2. Every morning before school all the girls in HS would line up on the stage and kneel. The skirt had to touch the floor. I was in 3rd grade at the time and was confused by the whole ordeal. I was spared that when I got to middle/HS. The whole rolling the skirt up was a real deal for a lot of girls in 7th grade but I was usually in a dress and had no way to roll it up…. The other thing was that there weren’t panty hose available – just stockings. Girls would (and I was guilty too) of wearing their mother’s stockings and holding them up by using a rubber band around the upper leg. We’d pull them up as far as possible and then “roll” them down over the rubber band. We were all so skinny that we were never in danger of cutting off our circulation!

    • I remember life before panty hose. It was really challenging (and uncomfortable) with garter belts and stuff and then I got my cousin’s hand-me-down girdle in a bright Hawaiian print. It WAS easier but not really needed or comfortable. Then panty hose and my mom saying, “But if you run one you have to throw the whole thing out.” I think my senior year in high school she gave up. I remember sewing very short dresses for myself. I think the panty hose was part of why she quit fighting me. I really liked wearing colored tights and they were less revealing (and harder to destroy). Or maybe she was tired 😉

  3. I love the description of the weather! I can really visualize how frosty it is. and the story of the girls’ outfits is very mature, but since they don’t understand the implications, it is still youthful. Great read. 🙂

  4. At my first high school they had to be two inches below the knees. The funny part is the cheer leaders and majorettes still wore outfits that looked like swim suits and hosiery and little itty bitty skirts that looked like ballerina tutus.

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