Circa 1976: Your Blatant Disregard Of Dress Codes And Social Strictures In High School

Slender and lithe, with the physique and the
agility of an athlete, you were dismissed
from both the varsity swim and track teams
because ypu had let your hair grow long last year---
despite repeated reprimands and warnings
from coaches and school administrators,
anxious to squelch this unsportsmanlike behavior.
After that, you began to admit to yourself certain
aspects of your personality you wanted to express:
hatred of shoes, and an almost erotic delight
in walking to, and sitting, in your classes with
your feet sheathed in unshod striped socks,
only partly concealed beneath denim bell-bottoms
(although you were told this is too much like a girl);
and how you wanted to use a little, very subtle,
eyeliner and eyeshadow and just a bit of lip gloss---
nuanced femininity to present your masculinity---
upon which another reprimand followed.
Then, violating all of the school's unwritten protocols,
as if to sneer at the social strictures that keep
all students in their righful and functional place:
you befriended the class scapegoat, the most hated
student (and hated these last eleven years).
You have been a long time aware of how he
often glanced at you surreptitiously,
especially when you started flaunting shoelessness;
and his gaze, always brief, made you feel beautiful,
and even comfortably desirable.
So, one warm afternoon, you walked the seven
city blocks, between your home and his at the town's edge;
shirtless, shoeless, your long hair cascading over
your torso, and sidewalk grime darkening the soles
of your socks (striped brown and yellow).
His shock, as he answered your knock at the door,
gave way to a smile; and the crushing need for acceptance,
unspoken but very visible in his eyes,
seemed to relax. You asked him about a homework
assignment of some difficulty, but both of you knew---
in agreement that each of you knew---
that this was only a ruse, a cover, to shield
from the prying eyes of prudish, prunish nay-bores

as they gave themselves to experience love.

 

Starward

Author's Notes/Comments: 

The last line was inspired by, and alludes to, Constantine Cavafy's poem, "Two Young Men, 23 To 24 Years Old."

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