The setting: 1983, Washington Grove Elementary School, third grade. This was a tough year. All of the sudden it became apparent who the smart kids were and where everyone else fit in on the scale of dumb to less dumb. We no longer had reading groups called Orange, Purple, Red, or Green. Oh no, there were the Eagles, the Horses, The Turtles and The Snails- we weren’t stupid- we all knew that was a ranking system. We no longer sat at our own desks- but at tables. Not actual tables, just our desks all pushed together. And we all knew who the fancy pants, future Rhodes Scholars were- they were right in the middle of the room- closest to the teacher- the pinnacle of scholarly success. They were often pulled aside for special assessments- while the rest of us had to practice cursive as if our whole educational future depended on penmanship. Now they don’t even teach that in school- although I think they should- it really is much faster than printing and though I like to think I’m young and hip- I’m really just an old lady who will forever gripe about the fact that these youngins today just don’t know a thing about how to make a proper cursive letter T.
Anyhoo, I was an ace in reading- but the math skills sucked donkey balls. We had these speed tests. The teacher would wheel in the old record player from the library or “media center.” That’s what they called it after the big school renovation of ’84. There wasn’t much more “media” than they had before the renovation. Of course, we still had the same 100 year old books, a couple of film projectors, one computer, a few overhead projectors and THE record player. But it was the 80’s we were moving into the future in light speed and libraries were so 1970’s. Our school was kickin’ it with a high tech media center.
Alright, back to THE record player. It lived on a cart to go from room to room. We lived in a pretty affluent area- so I’m still not sure why a school of 500 or so kids all had to share one fucking turntable- but whatevs. Then horror of horror- Mrs. Kwast (I know- doesn’t that name sound like something you’d call your….well you know- its in the title of this post)- would put on a record. Not the latest top forty, not a story to read along with – nothing fun of any sort. It was a math test. The asshole on the speaker would begin spouting addition and subtraction problems slowly- so ya know- us dummies could feel good that we got the first five right. Then that dickweed would start speeding up- and counting on my little piggies was just not going to cut it. Finally, he’d be talking as fast as the micro-machine man (under 35?, look it up sweeties)- at this point I would just put my pencil down in resignation. I will never be able to answer these problems that quickly- and I still can’t- and neither can you- that’s why we all use calculators. And those assholes at the fancy pants smart table? They were just scribbling down the answers as easy as drawing circles on a paper. Fuckers.
But, math tests, and record players and smart motherfuckers are not what this post is about. It’s about vaginas and the day I discovered that I had one. Ya see, I had a little friend in class whose parents were way cooler than mine. I was an accidental, late in life baby. My parents were hip in the 50’s (or at least young- I don’t know about hip) and they pretty much missed the 60’s and 70’s. Dad was too busy getting drunk and Mom was too busy trying not to have a nervous break down. And that pretty much was the status quo during my third grade year as well- or today for that matter.
Anyway, my little friend always had the coolest clothes- no dorky 1960’s hand-me-downs from 47 girl cousins who were all like 10 years older than me. Oh no- she had the latest and greatest with real designer names like Esprit, Le Sport Sac and the creme de la creme Jordache Jeans. That bitch. Her parents were free love, flowers in their hair hippies. Ya know the type, gypsy skirts, tie-dye t-shirts, dream catchers and pictures of mom breast feeding. It was all a little overwhelming to my little Catholic Girl eyes. We didn’t have any of that shit in our house- and certainly not a picture of my mother breast feeding. I’m still not sure how I feel about such portraits. When I breastfed my children, I was usually tired, dark circles under my eyes, hair tossled, with a stained nursing bra flopped open, baby on one boob, while the other leaked in anticipation (sorry guys, that’s the truth- it ain’t pretty)…really not ready to have someone snap a photo for all posterity. But- to each his own.
Nevertheless, I idolized her. Oh how I longed for her cooler than cool wardrobe. She even had a Cabbage Patch Kid- not just one but a WHOLE collection. Did I have one? No. They cost $26- a fortune in my parents’ opinion. And they were not about to go out and beat off a billion people to get some ugly plastic headed, diapered doll that had adoption papers. In my 8 year old mind, that meant they didn’t love me. Looking back, I totally get it. My kids are never getting anything where I have to get up at 3 am to stand in a line to get trampled for a fucking toy. Love ya kids- but it ain’t happening.
Alright, you’ve guessed it by now, this girl knew it all. Her parents probably started giving her the lowdown on body parts during her first bath. Sex ed probably was part of their home school / montessori / crazy ass pre-school curriculum. At this point in my life, anything below the waist and above the legs was your butt. You had a pee pee hole and well, your butt. And I only had sisters- so I had no idea what was going on in a boy’s pants. So one day, we’re just playing on the play ground, doing flips on the turning bar. And out it comes. “Did you know you have a hole between where you pee and where you poo”? I just stood there in disbelief. What the fuck was she talking about? I had wiped my ass a billion times and I never saw a hole in the middle! That’s disgusting! What would that hole be for? Why does she know that? Why is she telling me that??? Oh My God. The horror. I just simply could not believe my ears. “Yep, its called a vagina, one day we will bleed out of it every month and its also where the baby comes out”. Stop it! Stop with your evil lies!!! This is crazy talk. You’re telling me that this so called “vagina” is big enough for a baby to fit through and that I’m going to be gushing blood from between my legs for the rest of my life??? Shut the fuck up. I can’t even see that hole and a baby is going to come out of it?? She obviously had no idea what she was talking about. I don’t know how I thought babies were born- or if I had even ever wondered- but I knew for certain there was no such thing as a vagina and babies do not just come shooting out of your butt.
So, being the obedient little tattle tale I was, as soon as recess ended I went right up to Mrs. Kwast (now known as Mrs. Vagina) and told her the obscene lies this little Jezebel had told me on the playground. Well, I knew she was in for it now. She got called up to the teacher and was spoken to in hushed tones. I sat there smug in my seat knowing there would be a letter going home to her parents that very afternoon.
Thank God she transferred to another school before 5th grade- so I wouldn’t have to look her in the eye. That was the big year they separated the boys from the girls and basically told boys that wet dreams were normal and warned girls that they would soon start bleeding from their vaginas. It was true. Everything she said was true. Girls have vaginas.