Friday, October 22, 2010

"The Skirt Incident"

by Alana Mohamed

It was morning-ish. I say morning-ish because the things you'd usually connect to morning -- sun, people, bumper-to-bumper traffic -- weren't present at 6am on the BQE. Dad had a meeting and was dropping me off to school a bit early. Three hours of wandering around Brooklyn wouldn't be that bad. The half-dead Toyota Camry warmth was all I could ask for this monring.

Then the car stopped.

It stopped nowhere near my school. We were at the corner of Dekalb Avenue and some street that definitely was not anywhere near my school. I looked at my father. He looked at me. He clicked the door unlocked.

"I'm late for work."

"Uh... okay."
"Just head to school yourself; I'll see you at home tonight."

And out the car I went in my skirt and boots and leather jacket. It was a cute outfit, but it wasn't hiking-through-Brooklyn approved. I had barely made it a block before fantasizing about the school's gym sweatpants. They were large, unflattering, unsightly, and very warm. By the seventh block I had been followed by a man in a van who insisted that the back of said van was the safest place in the world -- and another on foot who thought it was perfectly acceptable to stroke my leg.

Ten blocks later I decided I deserved breakfast. That part was okay. Rejuvenated, I strolled outside and took my time getting to school. I had all the time in the world.

I got to school and swiped in my ID card, but then --

"Young lady!"

The scratchy smoker's voice pierced the lazy quiet of the school lobby. I knew that "young lady." It's the "young lady" you get when a teacher decides she doens't like your attire for the day. Don't turn around just keep walking --

"Excuse me!"

I turned around. I smiled. My skirt fell just above my knees, perfectly acceptable. There's nothing she can do to me, I thought. Oh, how naive I was.

"You," the teacher spat. "Your ass is practically hanging out of that skirt. Dean's office now."
* * *

And so I found myself victim to another teacher's PMS, sitting in the dean's office, being told I'd need to trade in my brand new shiny iPhone for a pair of those aforementioned sweatpants. They no longer looked appealing though. They looked about 10 years old, smelled of mothballs, and probably had some elderly love juices sprayed on them.

I refused. They yelled; I yelled; they yelled some more. "Could I just pull the skirt down at little so it covers my knees?!" I'm not sure how sane I would seem if I had to explain to them my whole hike to Brooklyn Technical High School, how my father had abandoned me on the street. I pulled down my skirt to shor Mr. Dean and Ms. Teacher. More outrage. More yelling. What was said wasn't quite impertinent, because most of it was unintelligible. I'm not sure if they understood it. They were very excited and excitable.

Because of this "skirt incident" as it's come to be known among a close circle of friends and now you, I spent a good hour and forty-three minutes in the dean's office, waiting for my mother to pick me up from school.

I feel a bit wimpy that my first altercation with school officials was over a skirt -- and not something as ridiculously bad as, like, drugs or sex or injuring someone, But it's a start.