“I Was Twirling!”

Sherry Killam, teacher, author, visual artist.

       Sherry Killam

Shirley MacLaine’s defense when Meryl Streep confronts her about ascending the staircase sans underwear in “Postcards from the Edge.”

SCENE 5 Flashback to 1952 Playground
Horizontal Monkey Bars (Real steel pipe over blacktop, no wood chips)

First grader CASSANDRA BANKS shinnies up the pole to the highest of three levels.

She wears a white blouse with puffed sleeves atop a gathered flower print skirt over a pair of modest camp shorts.

She pauses with one knee over the bar, the saddle shoe on her bent leg locked behind the one extended toward the blacktop below.  Her hands grip the bar, thumbs forward.

She exhales and calculates, then proceeds.  She falls forward and the momentum brings her back  to the starting position.  She continues twirling around the bar, counting seven times.  Balancing on her perch, she switches legs and repeats the routine.  She is in a zone.  Twirling.

CASSANDRA completes one last one-knee spin, then a precise dismount.  She strolls through the playground activities toward the two-story brick building.

Down the shiny wooden hallway,  past classroom doors,  glass enclosed trophy cases, a painted wall mural and a fire extinguisher, to the Girls Restroom.

Mosaic floor tiles, three stalls with swinging wooden doors, sinks with real glass mirrors, white metal paper towel dispenser, and a slick black trash can.

She chooses the middle stall, comes out and washes her hands, and returns to the playground.

Back through the crowd, considering what to do next.  She touches the front of her flowered skirt.  Her hands follow the gathers to the sides and around the back.  Something seems a little off.

She looks over her shoulder and notices kids stomping and laughing about eight feet behind her.  She senses a slight tug at her waist.

She makes an instinctive grab for her skirt in the back, but instead feels the thick elastic waistband of her shorts.  Twisting around, she sees the long white tail of toilet paper.

She squeals and hops around, wrapping the tail around herself a few times.  She tries a few backhand swats, which only become flailing panic.

A loud buzzer signals a stampede toward the building.  It’s time to line up.

See Dick run.  See Jane run.  Oh oh oh.









3 thoughts on ““I Was Twirling!”

  1. Sandra Lytch

    I remember incidents on occasion like this in grade school. Usually done intentionally by rascally boys trying to get a laugh. So embarrassing for Cassandra. The story fooled me. Thought Cassandra was going to have an embarrassing mishap on the monkey bars. Definitely kept me reading on until the end to find out what was going to happen. Right at the moment, can’t remember anything that happened to me embarrassing of this sort in grade school, but I do remember a funny incident at the university. Working full time, attending school full time, and being a single mother definitely made for embarrassing incidents. One day, I realized that I needed some sunglasses so that no one could see me red eyes from overwork. So I bought myself a pair of cheap ones at the dollar store. After the first class, I felt it looked fairly foolish for me to wear those sunglasses in the classroom, so I took them off. People began to stare at me. Around 2 p.m. I decided to check myself out in the bathroom mirror, and found out that I had huge raccoon eyes. The dye from the cheap sunglasses rubbed off around my eyes, making me look like some sort of goulish clown. I believe no one said anything to this day because they must have thought that I was a performance artist. Ha!

  2. Peggy Lewis

    Let me take you back to the 80’s. I’m expecting company, wearing a long wool skirt and boots. I am wearing panty hose. I take one last trip to the bathroom and come out as the doorbell rings. My husband says, “Are you really going to answer the door like that???” I look down seeing the long skirt, the boots. Then I feel the back and…. yes, I had inadvertently caught the hem of the skirt in my panty hose, leaving a lovely curtained stage effect featuring my backside! Arghhhh!

    1. Sherry Post author

      Thanks, Peggy. The ‘grownup version’ is wonderful. I love the ‘lovely curtained stage effect’. Another friend mentioned she was glad not to be the only one whose friends often noticed her errors before she did. Life’s a hoot.


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