Tuesday, August 3, 2010

That Time I Got In-School Suspension

Looking back, it's almost funny but not quite. It's pretty crazy because historically, I am a RULE FOLLOWER. I freak out if someone encourages me to bend 'em just a little, because I have a deep-seated Christian childhood fear of getting in trouble. I'm talking over stupid things. I am highly conflict avoidant and mostly choose to do "the right thing" to control the overwhelming guilt I would inevitably feel were I to wander off the path.

But here is a story I was thinking about the other day for some reason. This story is of a time I totally wandered off the path. Kind of. And really bad things happened. Kind of.

I was 15, a sophomore in high school at the strictest southern baptist private school this side of the Mississippi. I had a friend, Amy, who was 16 and had a junker car. Being with her equaled freedom. We could listen to 311 and bob our heads and feel alive. You know that 16 year old feeling?

Well, another girlfriend in our class decided to have a co-ed Halloween party that year--a major deal for most 15 year olds, but especially for some super repressed teens like us. Boy-girl party? OMG (oh my goodness), we MUST attend.

Flash forward to 2010--my parents are pretty relaxed. They drink in moderation. They go to church, but don't make a big deal of it. They're republicans but are OK with the fact that me and all my sisters are liberals. We can joke about sex in front of them or getting drunk or voting for Obama, or the fact that one of my sisters was a lesbian for a minute in college. It doesn't phase them.

Now back to my high school years--they refused to let me attend this party because boys would be present. Seriously? It was actually being chaperoned by my classmate's mother, whom they had met and everything. And she wasn't one of those weird moms who dressed like a whore and gave her kids vodka. She was an upper middle class stay at home mom who had planned all kinds of games for the party and so on. but the more I brought it up, the more they refused to let me go.

So I did what any teen would do. I told them I was going over to Amy's house and then Amy and I drove to the party. There's more here--my "boyfriend" at the time was supposed to be there that night too. I put boyfriend in quotes because neither one of us could drive, so we never went on dates or anything and his parents really disliked me for some reason I will never understand. So this party was a big opportunity to spend a little time with him outside of school. Very nervewracking!

Amy and I got ready for like an hour and probably put on way too much makeup and hairspray. I wore the cool wide leg skater jeans I had recently purchased. This was a big deal too because the school required that we wear skirts below our knees, dress shoes, and shirts no more than 2 fingers below the collarbone. Seeing everyone in street clothes was a new discovery. I wanted people to discover I was a badass.

So we got there, and sure enough, the host parent was actively involved in all the games, there was punch and cookies and so on. Then--a scavenger hunt. We were to break up into teams and go around the neighborhood looking for items on the list. I got into a group with my boy toy and some other friends and we hit the streets. We were free of parents and games and rules. We still didn't cuss or do anything wrong. Then when we got to the main road, I don't know what came over me, but I suggested that we moon a car.

I had recently been to a girls-only party at my best friend Laura's house where we got bored and flashed some cars with our little training bras on. It was funny. We laughed so hard we cried. We were oblivious to the fact that there are perverts and creeps out there. We just thought it was funny to shock people.

So my suggestion at the scavenger hunt was based on the memory of this being super funny. And me and 3 guys volunteered to do it. We stepped forward and when we saw a car coming, they mooned the car and I flashed em (with my little baby bra on). It was such a rush we did it a few more times. Living on the edge.

We left that night and I got a little kiss from my boy before going. I was on cloud nine.

Then at school on Monday everyone was talking. "Did you guys really flash cars?" "I can't believe it!" etc. I hadn't thought about the fact that news would travel. It seemed like an isolated incident. But apparently, word travels fast. It was the buzz of the school. And like good Christian school kids, we were immediately thrown into a panic about getting in trouble. By lunch word on the street was that the boys involved had turned on me and already gone to the headmasters office and confessed and implicated me.

I felt sick. I felt dizzy. This was not happening. I went home "sick" and received a call at home from my headmaster saying he knew why I had really left school, and he was going to call my parents and he wanted them and me in his office tomorrow. So I broke down and told my parents. They were actually more upset that I had lied to them and gone to the party. The flashing thing seemed like a joke. The first thing my dad did was laugh. But then they got serious.

We went the next day to see the headmaster and he told me that what I did was terrible. That the boys had confessed but I had not, which was even worse. That it was "a boy thing to do" and it was more understandable that they boys had done it but he could not see how a Christian girl could have done such a thing. He told me he did not think I was saved. He gave me in-school suspension for 2 weeks and made me apologize in front of the entire school, and stated in front of everyone that I was being punished for "something I did with 3 guys", which of course sounded WAY worse than mooning a car. He kicked me off the cheerleading team (even though the boys were allowed to continue playing basketball). Mind you, none of this was done at school or on school grounds. It was at a private party at someone's house. Didn't matter. He said we represented the school even when we were away from school. I think I even said, "I'm pretty sure the people in those cars had no way of knowing what school we attended." But it didn't matter. I was basically given a red "A" to wear.

I wanted to leave that school so badly and go somewhere else. I had always made good grades and been a good kid. Suddenly, teachers were looking at me differently. I started getting in trouble over everything. My dresses were scrutinized for dress code violations. I was labeled a bad kid. I cried every night and begged my mom to let me switch schools. But she said, "you can't always run from your problems. Sometimes you have to stay and face them." So I did.

I stayed the rest of the year and was treated like a second class citizen. After witnessing my struggles for a whole year, my mom agreed to let me switch schools over the summer to a slightly less ridiculously crazy christian school in town.

For awhile afterwards when I asked to do something with friends, my dad would say, "keep your shirt on" but other than that, the wounds healed :) You know what though? I still felt hurt typing out this story, 13 years later. Not ashamed about what I did--I was a stupid kid--just hurt at the way I was made to feel. That's Christian love for you!

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