Then and Now
In sixth grade, my class took up belly dancing. We practiced at lunchtime, sometimes to music, most often without. Once we’d mastered the basics, our dance routine was infiltrated by more “exotic” moves, and we dreamed up costumes to match. By virtue of its name, belly dancing required our bellies to be out, so we invented haltertops by tucking the hems of our t-shirts through the necklines, or improvised by grinding our hips and shucking our Flashdance sweatshirts then swinging them over our heads like lariats, clad only in undershirts and training bras.
The lunchroom was supervised, so the teachers were either less concerned about the jailbait overtures of our dancing than they should have been, or were simply relieved that the gifted class could be a little bad now and then.
Mrs. MacDonald was a practical lady, grinding through math and science, then donning white sneakers over her tan pantyhose for phys ed. She exhaled, one long “phhhoooooooo”, then shot this photo at our request. A little something for us to remember grade six by.
From right to left: Amy is the bait sent in to distract some wealthy perv, and while he’s leering at her satiny pink jumpsuit and pouting eyes, Ryan and I move in to pick his pockets, stamping on his toes and pushing him in the gutter, Artful Dodger style. Anne, whose mom permitted her to read Sidney Sheldon and the dirty Judy Blumes, is grinning like the happiest lesbian in the whole sixth grade, flanked by bellies and cute girls. Back on the right, Annie and Jordan…well…their dentist was a very skilled man.
In fact, two days ago, Jordan of the crossed eyes and feathery blond hair picked me out of a lunchtime crowd as I rushed along a downtown street armed with sandwich, water, magazine and cellphone. I asked how he knew me after all these years. He replied, I haven’t changed a bit.
I moved away from our childhood town about six weeks after this photo was taken, meaning his most recent memories of me date back to belly dancing and mesh vests. I’m not sure how I feel about that! Although, considering I am presently adrift in a sea of “oh my gosh I am almost 35” agony, I suppose such comparison isn’t so bad.