When I was in junior high, they segregated the boys and the girls for health class. We didn’t particularly care for the arrangement, because half the fun of health class was watching each other make fun of the charts of the human body. However, one morning there seemed to be a particular note of urgency in the teacher’s voice when she urged us girls to take our seats quickly because we had something very serious to discuss.
We shot knowing looks at each other, certain that this class was to be the lecture about “not doing it” before we were married, because of the danger of disease or babies.
We were quiet, and Mrs. Hamilton began to speak — on the dangers of opening bobby pins with one’s front teeth.
We sat perfectly still for a moment, and then I made the mistake of looking at my friend, Sally. She did her famous imitation of a rabbit, and then we were all in hysterics for a couple of minutes. Mrs. Hamilton tried unsuccessfully to focus our attention once again on the threat of destruction lurking in our beauty rituals — until somebody pointed out to her that all of us used brush rollers with pink plastic picks. This was 1964, and nobody had been near a pin curl in several years — not even the creepy girls.
Mrs. Hamilton finally gave up in disgust at our callous disregard for advice that could save our good looks, and went on to the next part of the dental hygiene chapter, which concentrated on the correct method for brushing one’s teeth. We graduated from eighth grade without ever having savored the salacious details of diseased sex and illegitimate monster off-spring. Those pleasures of youth would be left to the high school to sort out for us.