Every morning the school bus zips by our driveway, hauling its precious cargo of undersize humanoids to that big brick institution in town. And as the bus hurtles past, I think, Ha! Better you than me!
I harbor few pleasant memories of my scholastic career. This is because I detested school due to it being a total waste of my time. After all, I was going to be a farmer, and what did a farmer need to know about stuff like gerunds or the French Revolution? However, I will grudgingly admit that attending school gave me a front-row seat to some societal changes. For instance, when I was a freshman, it was federal law that girls wear skirts. Being forced to go around bare-legged during our harsh winters seemed cruel and inhuman. But that’s how I felt about pretty much everything regarding school.
I remember my sisters wearing slacks beneath their skirts as they waited for the bus in subzero cold. Said slacks then had to be removed as soon as they arrived at school. By the time I was a senior, gender equity had arrived and females could wear slacks whenever they pleased. Yet I gathered that it would be frowned upon for a boy to attend classes wearing a skirt, so this equity didn’t extend to all.
Hair standards also underwent a radical transformation. During my freshman year, a guy could be expelled if his hair touched his ears. Boys’ hair also had be neatly combed and plastered in place with Brylcreem or, if you were poor like me, 30-weight motor. We all looked like miniature Ward Cleavers.
A few years later, the issue of hair length had gone by the wayside and some guys had hair that was longer than any girl’s. This often made it difficult to distinguish between the genders. Thank goodness for the invention of facial hair!
Our choices regarding classes also evolved. When I started high school, girls were expected to take Home Ec, which was basic training in the art of being a homemaker. Boys took Shop, which was basic training in the art of operating power tools without losing fingers.
In Shop, we made such things as crude picture frames and bookends. In Home Ec, the girls made such things as delicious cakes and pies. I’m just guessing that they were delicious based on the aromas that wafted through the hallways. Not that it would have mattered; teenage boys generally scarf their food at such speed that the taste buds scarcely catch a glimpse as it whips by.
Thanks to gender equality, the school began to offer a course called Bachelor Living. This was Home Ec for guys, basic training in the art of being a lone male homemaker.
I signed up for Bachelor Living assuming -- correctly, it turned out -- that I would be spending a good deal of time living as a bachelor. It fit in with my plans for being a farmer.
One of the first things we learned in Bachelor Living was how to sew. We were shown how to reinstall buttons followed by the fabrication of a small pillow.