Thursday, April 27, 2017

Innocence, Thy Name is Banana

By the time you’re past fifty, high school is a dim memory if you think about it at all. Still, random moments pop up, often leading to something that happened eons ago, give or take, making us wonder how some of our former classmates turned out. 

                  Illustration: Lora Zombie
For example, what ever became of Lois S., a ditzy girl who was confused about so many things? While we were studying sea life in ninth grade science, she asked if she should be feeding the sponges they had at home; you know, the ones they stored under the kitchen sink. The real sticking point for her was the fact that theirs were pink and yellow and green and blue, and perfectly square-shaped. They didn’t seem to move at all, unlike the ones we saw in science class that were all spiny, brownish blobs that ate things. In another class, when asked what species reproduces through asexual binary fission, she replied after careful thought, “Could it be us?” 

Actually, most of my classmates were in the dark about sex back then. This being the early sixties, there were only two sexes and some of of us were still virgins. Our eighth grade “health” class was segregated since nice boys and girls discussed such things apart from one another.  Lynn R., the head of the “popular girls" who was always going steady with someone so I assumed she was up to speed in that department, asked, “If a girl and boy both take a bite from opposite ends of the same banana at the same time, do you get pregnant?” Jeez, even I knew that, and I was sort of a dork. Still, I shied away from sharing bananas with anyone but my husband, especially during my childbearing years.

My favorite high school memory involved Mr. Gizzy, a biology teacher whose random spot quizzes struck fear in all of us. One day, after a particularly tough quiz left everyone groaning, Mr. Gizzy chided, “Oh come on, that was nothing -- just one of my little quizzies.” A boy in the back yelled out, “Well, if that was one of your quizzies, I’d hate to see one of your testes!” Silence ensued as his words hung in the air, followed by riotous laughter. Mr. Gizzy’s wife, also a teacher at our school, took a lot of ribbing over that one.

And so, over the years I have wondered: When did Lois learn that the pink and blue sponges do not require feeding, and how stunned was she? Did Lynn ever have children, and if so, was any sort of fruit involved? Are the Gizzies alive today, and do they still laugh over his “little testes”? And most of all, if you said “testes” in a classroom of ninth-graders today, would they even notice?

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