While I was growing up, I lived a very sheltered life. I had lived in four different agencies that cared for children by the time I was eighteen. My social skills were limited and I had never traveled anywhere until I entered college.
In college, I was fortunate in finding work while I attended school. I learned how to spend money on root beer floats and hamburgers. I didn’t have a car and most students who lived in the dorms stayed on campus for lack of transportation. We became a close-knit community out in the middle of no where, far from the rest of civilization.
As a freshman, our stately institution created an initiation for the first year students. It was called “Fish Week.” I had to wear a dorky looking cardboard hat on my head that stayed in place with an elastic string that rested under the chin. Trust me, it was dorky. I also was given a green construction paper fish to wear around my neck. My main task was to see to the needs of the upperclassmen. I had to carry their books and run errands for them. They also required me at times to drop to my knees and sing songs, quote scripture, and recite praises for their mighty achievements. After a week of embarrassment, I felt the seeds of rebellion grow inside my normally tranquil heart. I brought together a group of freshmen students who wanted to restore their tattered sense of dignity.
While some of the upperclassmen were in classes, my trusty comrades and I hid their mattresses in hard to find places. We stashed dissected worms from our biology lab classes in their text books. We covered their dorm rooms with toilet paper. After a time, they discovered who was making their lives difficult.
One night, I foolishly decided to take a shower. The dorm shower was empty when I went in. I took off my clothes and hung them on a hook, right outside the shower curtain. I had a great shower. When I finished, I reached out to grab my clothes to put them on. My hand hit empty air. I shoved back the curtain and sure enough, the clothes were gone. I could feel the panic grow inside my body when I heard the first sound of a snicker. I felt rooted to the shower floor. Then I heard a mighty roar of laughter.
I knew it was a long walk back to my dorm room, and I was a very private person about my body. My eyes zeroed on to the shower curtain. I removed it from its hooks and wrapped it around my body like a Greek goddess. Holding my head high, I threw a corner of my toga over my shoulder, and walked down the long hallway to my room. The hall filled with upper-class women. There was not a sound as I made my way down the hall to my room. As I opened my door, there was a roar of applause. The rest of the year had its own reward. The upper-class women invited me into their meetings, and invited me to visit their dorm rooms as well. I made a lot of friends my freshman year by being persistent and by hanging in there. Most of all, I retained my sense of dignity.