Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rain! Rain! Rain!

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Is there anything more depressing than clothing left outside in the rain?

Well, yes. Standing at the screen door, wearing four layers of clothing topped by a layer of fleece, staring out at the rain. With houseguests.

Shelly, my dearest friend since high school, came to visit this past weekend with her husband and son. They drove for seven hours up from Connecticut on Thursday, and Friday it rained all day. Then, oh joy, the skies cleared Saturday in time to take them kayaking on spectacular Eggemoggin Reach.

Then they left Sunday and it's been raining ever since.

Those are Rob's kayaking shoes above left, put out on the deck railing to dry, heh-heh. That's a soggy, moldy flower garden in the background. (I don't even dare sneak down to the veggie garden to see what's happened to the beans and zinnias. I think all we have left down there that's edible is zucchini. Somebody tried to unload a bag of zucchini on me yesterday, so I guess the annual Hot Zucchini Hand-off has begun.) That's my hat at right, put out on the adirondack chair for no reason whatever.

But you didn't come here for a big gripe-fest, now did you?

So I'll tell you about stripping at Wheaton College in 1969. (This popped into my mind after a reunion with Dane and Laura, two of my college roommates.)

There were two oddities about the first week of freshman year back then. One was "posture pictures." We lined up in a featureless cinderblock hallway, went into a featureless room, took off all our clothes, and had our pictures taken. The idea was that someone would examine them and determine what we needed to do to improve our posture, presumably so that we would look nice in a strapless evening gown when we inevitably became Corporate Wives.

Every year, a rumor flew around campus that a Brown University fraternity had stolen the negatives and made placemats out of the photos.

Fortunately, it was the late Sixties and the cusp of the Seventies. Over the previous summer, Wheaton had decided to drop a requirement that students wear skirts to dinner. Wheaton did this because students had begun to quibble about the definition of "skirt" and had started wearing bathrobes. The posture-picture tradition bit the dust soon after my freshman year--in fact, my class may have been the last year to be photographed. Apparently, you didn't need good posture to wear a tie-dyed tunic and ragged bell-bottoms. And fewer and fewer of us were Corporate Wife material.

The other highlight of freshman induction that year was a bizarre test that required you to jump into the pool fully clothed over your bathing suit, take off your shirt and pants while treading water, and knot them and blow into them underwater so they turned into handy life preservers. Apparently Corporate Wives tended to go sailing without the proper safety gear.

I got out of this test because I had a cold, but the phys. ed. teachers still made me sit there and watch. One of my classmates, half drowned, swam over to the side of the pool and slapped her sodden clothes down at the phys. ed. chairman's feet. "Come on, you can do it," the chairman said (or words to that effect). My classmate gave her a withering look, heaved herself out of the pool, and walked away with as much dignity as you can muster when you've failed to blow up your jeans.

I wonder if she ever regretted her failure. I wonder if I'm on a placemat somewhere.

1 comment:

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