When I mention the fact that I went to a girls’ school for high school, I get a full range of responses, varying from an “Oh, really?” that means, “So that explains it” to an “Oh, really?” that means, “I pity you.” While I was still young and inexperienced, these responses bothered me. I would hide in my room, rock in my chair and cry to my cats. But my high school soon taught me to stand proud. Now when someone implies that there’s anything wrong with single-sex education, I shout “NO!” at the person loudly and forcefully, knee them in the groin, then crush his or her instep with my heel and run away. Nobody can tell me my four years at an all-girls’ school didn’t fully prepare me to deal with the real world.
It isn’t as though I spent four years looking around and wondering, “Where are the boys?” (Although I did that at the prom.) On the contrary, I liked the fact that I could sit at a table full of girlfriends at lunch every day and not be afraid to say what was on my mind for fear that I would be mocked, ignored, or asked on a date. I could walk the halls without fear of having my looks or figure judged; just my clothes and shoes.
It’s a magical experience when a teenage girl realizes that she, along with a pack of malicious, giggling friends, can make life a living hell for a young, nervous, twenty-three year old male graduate student who is trying to teach them history. Looking back, Mr. Capazzola, I feel your pain. Sitting in a small, dark, enclosed space with a class of fourteen-year-old girls who are watching a documentary film on the Vietnam War and hooting at the shirtless soldiers, is enough to bring out the fight-or-flight response in anyone. The things we did to our teachers may have been obnoxious and cruel, but they were always subtle, which made them worse. It is one thing to turn all the chairs in the classroom to face the wrong way, but it is quite another to say to a teacher in the middle of class, “What are those little patterns on your socks supposed to be?”
It wasn’t always fun and games, though. I would read Seventeen magazine articles that advised cozying up to “that hottie who sits next to you in English class,” and sigh mournfully. Worse still were the “Is He Right for you?” quizzes which I took dutifully despite my utter ineligibility, chewing my pencil thoughtfully and making up a composite boyfriend.
What I disliked the most about the entire experience were the opportunities to mingle with the opposite sex that were forced upon us by the administration once or twice a year. These happened on designated “Special Days”, in which half the population of our ‘brother’ school came to my school, and half the population of our school went to theirs for an afternoon of mixed classes, fun and unspeakable awkwardness. I can’t imagine what kind of incestuous values our school was promoting by calling the boys’ school across town our ‘brother’ school-since the relations between students at the two schools were often much more than familial.
I didn’t find it a difficult transition from high school to college. It only took me a few weeks to stop pointing and giggling. I’m truly grateful for those boy-free four years that allowed me to devote myself to my studies and to put my education first. And now that I’m in college, I can put all of that learning stuff behind me and focus on what really matters in life: catching a man.