Rowing Ruminations Part 5
(No spoilers for any book, rowing or otherwise!)
(In fact, this post contains absolutely nothing about rowing!)
There was an event in our school where all the freshmen athletes from all the clubs were expected to do some kind of performance. Some of the clubs just did a song and dance, but others, including crew, did lewd skits. Ours that year involved me wearing a black miniskirt (borrowed from classmate) and a bustier (actually it was a black trash bag wrapped around and tucked into a strapless bra) and black high heels (Annie Cat, they were my speech outfit high heels), wielding a black leather whip (one of the upperclassmen brought it home from India, long story). The other freshman, who were covered with strategically placed plastic beverage bottles painted an opaque flesh color and nothing else, were forced by yours truly and her whip to go under a limbo bar that was also strategically placed on a freshman who’d lost a very important game of rock, paper and scissors. No one wanted to do it, but we all did. It was just what you did back then when the upperclassmen told you to.
Just before we got on the stage was the first time most of our team saw us. Most of them thought it was hysterical, but the crew captain took one look at me and freaked out. (Interestingly enough, he didn’t freak out at how the other freshmen were dressed, or rather, undressed.) He told me to put on my jacket before I got up on the makeshift stage in the student cafeteria, so I pulled on the navy blue nylon windbreaker I always wore to practice. The other upperclassmen booed and yelled at me to take the jacket off, so I did. I didn’t think how I was dressed was that big a deal because they weren’t seeing anything they wouldn’t have seen if I’d been on swim team (the women’s swimming club had done a cute, tasteful dance…in their Speedo racerbacks), and the guys were obviously much worse off. The skit was lewd, and that was probably the bigger problem than what we were (or weren’t) wearing, but that was just what you did back then. I hope college kids nowdays have better taste, but somehow I doubt it. This probably wasn’t a thing just in our school, because in the reception after the Three Schools Race, the other schools had skits that were similarly (dis)tasteful.
And then there was that one year when, one of the other schools, in their skit, one guy held the other down and opened his mouth and…never mind.
Seriously, I think no one in the Three Schools noticed I was there until like my third or fourth year (except when we were doing our awful skit). One thing I didn’t get that much of during those early years was attention that was, if you will, gender based, from my own squad or from any of the other schools. I don’t know if the upperclassmen were watching out for me or if no one was interested in me because I was so plain. I got standard issue teasing (especially about the lewd skit, because we performed it at every race reception) but nothing beyond that. They’d say lewd (rude? I’m Japanese, I can’t tell the difference :P) things to each other and occasionally discuss conquests and plans while I was within earshot, but since none of it involved me or any girl I knew personally, both sides were happy to let well enough alone.