Forty Five

on

Their small green forms were strewn everywhere, scattered amid glinting shards. They covered the linoleum and extended out onto the carpet. Sharp blades of glass stuck out from the wreckage like landmines of podiatric terror. Green juice splattered the walls and ran in rivers down the cabinets.

Crap.

There goes the whole pickle jar.

I cleaned up the floor, then began wiping down the walls and affected surfaces. I noted, with fascination, a perfectly rectangular pile of cockroaches that I unearthed by sliding the microwave aside. Their bodies formed a perfect shadow of the machine they were sequestering beneath. They swarmed in place for a fraction of a second, then scattered like an explosion of small, pale confetti.

I had set the paper bag full of groceries on the counter, where I began unloading its contents into the fridge. One by one, I had removed items from within, completely ignorant of the fact that the bag’s edge reached just beyond the counter top’s surface. Bit by bit, catastrophe drew nearer, until … BLAMO! The tipping point was reached and the jar of pickles came crashing to the floor below.

My personal tipping point came one sunny afternoon, not long after. I was in the media center, trying to finish up some last details on a project that was due the next day. I bent over the cutting board, using its gridded surface to draw measurements on the posterboard. I was trying to get the angles just right, when I felt someone press softly against the small of my back. I straightened up in surprise, expecting to see either a friend with serious personal space issues or a sex criminal.

I turned abruptly to find neither friend nor predator. Instead, I discovered a small, ratty looking white woman.

“Can I help you?” I asked, taken aback. Was this chick hitting on me?

She smiled at me, sweetly, “If my stickers had arrived yet, I’d be putting one on your back.”

I raised my eyebrows, “I’m sorry, what now?”

She smiled again, “I’m part of the new standards patrol. When you bent over, I could see some skin on your lower back. That’s against the standards here. I’m going to have special stickers to mark violations like this but they’re not in yet. I won’t write a formal citation on you today, just watch what you wear next time.” She then rotated on her soap box and strode briskly away.

charged after her and told her exactly where I would shove a sticker if she ever dared to put one on my body … except I didn’t. I couldn’t move. I felt as if I had slipped into a parallel universe. We were all adults here, weren’t we? We didn’t know each other … and yet she had just touched my underwear line.

I looked down at my t-shirt. It covered everything perfectly, when I wasn’t stretched over a massive cutting board. Had this woman no common sense?

No … and I shouldn’t have expected it. I shouldn’t have expected it from anyone. Clearly, all evidence was to the contrary.

As I walked the distance home, my brain skimmed through ideas for revenge. I could register a sexual harassment complaint against the woman! I could come to school in a halter top … No, a bikini … No … naked?

My ranting list went on and on but as the rage simmered out I had to concede, what was the point? I would be fighting against an institution with ultimate control, battles I would not win over issues that would only make me miserable. There was only one solution to my problem. Gloria was right. I went home and applied to another school – the University of Hawaii.

Over the next few weeks, I watched as students wearing shorts were asked to kneel to ensure that the shorts were, in fact, long enough to meet the pavement. Eventually, shorts were banned entirely. I didn’t see as much “aloha wear” anymore, so many of the bright floral prints replaced with white button-ups and ties. This was all the achievement of new management sent from the motherland in Utah.

The locals said this happened every few years or so, when the big heads decided things had become too loose in the islands. They would send someone new, or many someones as the case may be, to straighten everyone out. Things would be strict for a while but eventually island life would always win. The new leadership would slide into the local rhythm as things returned to normal.

But I didn’t want to wait. I had taken all I could handle. I would go, God and Admissions Board willing, to the University of Hawaii. But first, I would go to the most gloriously stereotypical place a young, searching girl could ever go.

This is the latest installment in my story. If you haven’t yet read the previous entries, click here to start at the beginning. Then continue to read each post in numerical order.

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