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She was a big tough woman. The first to come along. That showed me being female meant you still could be strong…
On the third floor of Lofgren Hall, Shari Keefer stared up at the ceiling in the room she shared with fellow incoming freshman, Becky Karceski. Welcome Week at Blake College was already in full swing. The campus and residence halls buzzed with activity in spite of the oppressive August heat. The Blake College campus was beautiful. A verdant expanse of neatly trimmed lawn stretched beneath the shade of trees too numerous to count. Blake, the city’s namesake college for women, swarmed with students and parents. Small groups gathered outside under the shade of a trio of towering birch trees. Others carried suitcases and boxes of personal belongings as they came and went in the six residence halls.
Shari was excited and she looked forward to the start of her classes next week. When her parents helped bring the last of her things up to her dorm and said their goodbyes, the 19 year old knew that at long last, she officially reached adulthood. She was on her own now; free to make her own decisions and do whatever she wanted as long as she kept her grades up. The feeling was exhilarating and a little overwhelming at the same time.
School is school wherever you go, she supposed. But high school was stricter, and at times, suffocating. That feeling was made worse by the presence of hall monitors and five minute passing periods with the constant threat of detention for the high crime of being more than one second late to the next class. College is different; something that many teens looked forward to. With college and dorm life came an unprecedented amount of freedom. And although each residence hall at Blake assigned a dorm mother, their only real concern was keeping rowdiness to a minimum and ensuring compliance with house rules set by campus staff. As long as a student attended classes regularly and kept her nose clean, they’d never pry into anyone’s life or ask any hard questions.
Shari turned her head and watched while Becky hefted one of two suitcases she’d brought onto her bed. The diminutive brunette opened it and started putting the contents in the top drawer of their shared dresser. “Maybe we can go downtown when I’m finished unpacking.” Becky said. “Get a pizza and see a movie or bowl a few games at the Comet.”
“I can’t, Becky. I’m kinda busy.”
“Busy with what? Class doesn’t even start until Monday–and I don’t wanna go eat in the dining hall–not yet. Figured we’ll be seeing enough of it when class starts!”
“I’m just…going to see a friend.” Shari realized she shouldn’t have paused mid-sentence like that.
Becky pounced. “Who’s your friend? Can’t be Craig Carlson. He left town last week. He’s going to Loyola I think…at least, that’s what Irene Olofson said.”
“I haven’t seen Craig since graduation, so no, I’m not seeing him.”
“Look, I’d rather not say, okay?” Shari said. “It’s just a friend, that’s all. Maybe we could go downtown tomorrow afternoon unless you’re busy.”
Becky closed the now empty suitcase and stowed it under her bed. She reached for her purse and paused at the door. “Okay. I gotta walk over to the bookstore and then I’m getting something to eat. I’ll be back later.” She stuck her head back in the doorway. “Hey–don’t let Miss Olsen see if you plan on bringing your friend back here sometime.” She said, referring to Miss Martha Olsen, Lofgren Hall’s house mother.
“I’m not seeing any guys.”
“Yeah, okay…” Becky’s voice faded down the hall.
Shari sat up and moved off the twin sized mattress of the bed she occupied. She stood in the middle of the small, nondescript room staring at a clutter of boxes and suitcases containing most of the clothes she was able to grab in a single armload from her closet at home. A laundry basket sat on top of the small writing desk next to her bed. It was empty except for a small batch of record albums. Becky’s parents brought a small record player so the two of them could listen to music any time they liked. It was a thoughtful gesture. They even bought a few new albums.
There were about 10 LP’s in the stack and a couple 45’s. Shari plugged the record player in and looked through the albums. Shari knew Becky since they both went to Talcott High School, but they didn’t have any classes together then, and their friendship was casual. She figured they’d have the same tastes in music, and she was right: The Who, Badfinger, and Led Zepplin gathered together in the laundry basket like a reunion of old friends she hadn’t seen in ages. But instead, Shari’s interest was piqued by an album she’d never seen before.
I Know You Know. The singer, Meg Christian (Shari presumed that’s who it was), stared back at her from a monochrome forest of trees and fallen leaves. She turned the album over. It was brand new, and it still had a price sticker. “Diana’s WomanSpace…” That’s izmit escort the feminist bookstore downtown, about a block or so away from the Comet. She’d passed by the storefront many times, but she never went inside.
Shari skimmed the song titles, and her eyes settled on one in particular. “Ode to a Gym Teacher…” Her lips uttered the words, compelling her to take the record out and play it. A little music wouldn’t hurt while she changed her clothes before heading out to see her friend. The turntable spun and the needle slowly lowered, making contact with the vinyl grooves. A volley of crackles and pops added an audible layer of familiarity, pairing nicely with the strumming guitar.
Well, in gym class while the others
Talked of boys that they loved
I’d be thinking of new aches and pains
The teacher had to rub.
And while other girls went to the prom
I languished by the phone
Calling up and hanging up when I found out she was home.
Shari’s eyelids fluttered and closed for a moment while she stood in front of the long mirror that was mounted on the door of the small closet she’d be sharing with Becky this semester. “Sounds like Miss Blount…”
I sang her songs by Johnny Mathis
I gave her everything
A new chain for her whistle
And some daisies in the spring
Some suggestive poems for Christmas
By Miss Edna Millay
And a lacy, lacy card for Valentine’s Day
(Unsigned of course!)
A chorus of laughter from the unseen audience resounded among the crackles and pops. Shari opened her eyes and realized, to her relief, she was still alone in the small dorm room. She reached in the closet and selected a pretty light floral print sundress with spaghetti straps. Shari held the thing in front of her and gazed approvingly at the reflection. It looks just like the dress she wore when she paid Miss Blount a visit last month. This one had a little more length to it though. Laughter resounded again from the record player while Shari undressed.
(Here comes the moral of the song)
So you just go to gym class
And you’ll be sure to see
One girl who sticks to teacher
Like a leaf sticks to a tree
One girl who runs the errands
And chases all the balls
One girl who may grow up
To be the gayest of all.
She listened to the song two more times before returning the record to its monochrome album cover. Shari stood in front of the long mirror again, brushing her shining torrents of hair. A light blond nimbus tumbled past her small shoulders in thick, abundant waves.
Shari Keefer gazed back at her reflection. The slim 19 year old was, without a doubt, stunningly beautiful. Sapphire blue eyes lit up the sweetly innocent features of her lovely face. The toned soft curves of her body complimented the airy lightness of the dress she chose. A wry little grin spread across her full pink lips while her thoughts wandered through the halls of pleasant memories of the past. She thought of high school, of her classes at Talcott, and Miss Blount.
Miss Velma Blount was Shari’s gym teacher back then. It was not so long ago, but to her, it seemed like forever since graduation. By the time Shari started her senior year, Miss Blount had already been a teacher at Talcott High for longer than she’d been alive. The veteran gym teacher was in her mid to late 40s. She was very athletic and very tall. She towered over her students at an intimidating 6’2″. And most of all, she was unabashedly butch.
Ask anyone at Talcott High, and most will tell you that Miss Blount never failed to elicit reactions of alarm from both students and parents. Her light, almost ginger sandy hair was always cut very short and blunt, reflecting her personality. Equally short, blunt bangs and thick eyebrows drew attention to the Amazon woman’s hoary, light blue eyes and the deep lines etched into the rugged features of her face. It wasn’t unusual for a student, boy or girl, to mistakenly call her “sir.”
Shari remembered one time when she saw a boy from Coach Linley’s sixth hour class thrust his hand up in mock salute when Miss Blount told him to stop running through her “gymnasium,” as she put it. Shari didn’t know the kid’s name, but she knew he was either a freshman or sophomore. The kid stopped abruptly and mumbled “Sorry,” but Miss Blount wasn’t having any of it. “Pick your feet up, one after the other, and WALK, young man!” She tersely bellowed.
Shari sat on the floor in the main gym with the rest of her class, waiting for Miss Blount to finish taking attendance, when the kid’s hand shot straight up. “Jawohl, Mein Fuhrer!” The outburst of laughter made the towering gym teacher look up from her clipboard and turn around to confront the kid. But before she could say anything, the kid’s Nazi salute changed to the classic one fingered variety. Everybody talked about it for days afterward.
But Miss Blount wasn’t all izmit anal yapan escort sharp voice and marching orders. She had a reputation for being firm but fair. This established her as one of the most respected teachers at Talcott High. And Shari sometimes saw a side of her old gym teacher no one else saw. She was amazing and fun and attentive–nothing like the brusque task master she was during class. It wasn’t her fault though. Miss Blount had to be that way because that’s the way things are done.
Since the beginning of her senior year, Miss Blount formed a rapport with Shari Keefer. It started out small and superficial at first. Shari had a habit of coming to class late or “forgetting” to put on her gym suit. God, she hated that ugly, one piece rag! She was supposed to keep it in her locker and take it home to wash it at the end of each week. But she always had a habit of feigning ignorance and this would always end up with Shari having to complete a make-up session running laps in the gym during lunch or after school.
It happened so often, the rapport between student and teacher grew and solidified. Shari felt a peculiar sort of bond with the homely, mannish looking gym teacher. She was fascinated with Miss Blount’s alarming presence and dedicated athleticism. And before she knew it, she was drawn to her gym teacher.
I wrote her name on my notepad
And I inked it on my dress
And I etched it on my locker
And carved it on my desk.
And I painted big red hearts with her initials on my books
And I never knew ’til later why I got those funny looks.
Shari’s fascination during high school never went that far. But sometimes they would make a game out of passing notes to each other in the crowded hallway during passing periods. They didn’t do it all the time–just when Shari knew she’d pass by the main gym or someplace else where Miss Blount was sure to be spotted. Shari secretly liked the danger in not knowing for sure whether another teacher or fellow student saw them exchanging notes.
Thinking back to that song, there were times when Shari wondered if Miss Blount had developed feelings towards her. During gym class, she could feel the Amazon woman’s gaze. She’d turn to look over her shoulder and she’d see Miss Blount’s glacial blue eyes staring, following her every move. Shari always tried to act unaware, but deep down it was exciting and fun–like a game of keep away. It was wrong to tease the gym teacher like that. And she knew it was wrong to think about Miss Blount’s private life, to wonder if all the rumors and jokes she heard were really true.
But Shari Keefer was curious and Miss Blount was nice–especially when the girl was able to sneak away during lunch to pay her a visit in the girls’ PE office. They talked about anything and everything and they laughed a lot. Sometimes Miss Lusby or Mrs. Horton would join them, and once the four of them even played a little volleyball in the auxiliary gym. By second semester of senior year, Shari sensed a strange bond between her and old Miss Blount. But she wasn’t concerned. Her curiosity grew as graduation drew near. She realized she wanted to explore and break this taboo. She wanted to be chased and caught–and turned by this strapping older butch woman.
Shari went over to the window between her bed and Becky’s. She looked out at the campus lawn and watched a couple girls clutching an armload of books heading towards neighboring Simcott Hall. The sun was setting and already disappeared behind the treetops. The clear, early evening sky showed a trio of bright stars against a band of orange and violet, fading into an infinite dark blue expanse. Shari glanced one last time at her reflection in the mirror. She grabbed her purse and car keys. Time to head out and pay her friend another visit.
She stopped to use the bathroom and check her appearance one last time. In the first floor commons, a group of girls sat around a table playing cards and smoking cigarettes like it was going out of style. Others gathered around the TV watching some stupid variety show. Someone had opened a few windows to let the early evening air breeze through.
“Hey, Shari, all settled in?” A dark haired woman in her early 30s called from the table. It was Miss Martha Olsen. She pulled a Winston from a newly opened pack. Her neighbor offered her a light and she took a long drag. “Come on, have a seat and join us in some cards!”
“I would, but I’m going to stay with a friend tonight.”
Miss Olsen rolled her eyes in feigned exasperation and laughed. “Well, just don’t get into any trouble when you go out.”
“Thanks, Miss Olsen, I’ll be okay.”
“Don’t slam the–” WHAP! “…door!”
Shari drove through the streets of downtown Thatcher Blake in silence. She rolled her window down and the welcome breeze whipped through her gorgeous long hair and brushed her sun kissed izmit yabancı escort shoulders. Her eyes closed for a second at the next stoplight. She was relieved that Miss Olsen didn’t pressure her to stay or ask her who her friend was.
No one, in a hundred million years, would understand. The friendship Shari had with Miss Blount was amazing and unusual. But Shari was also painfully aware that just about everyone would think it was wrong. Friendship was one thing, but this was something more…much more. Same sex relationships existed only in trashy books or pornographic films made to titillate men.
Shari recalled the way she and her classmates would look at Miss Blount; wondering if she might get too close to them or corner one of them in the locker room showers. The jokes and rumors were pretty funny at the time. But now and then, the jokes came off as unnecessarily cruel and mean spirited. Sometimes when Shari stared at Miss Blount during class, she felt an odd mix of fascination and disgust. As time passed, and graduation was near, the specter of self-awareness would creep up on the beautiful blond senior. And she wondered if she might be a lesbian like old Miss Blount.
Shari turned down a side street through tree lined blocks with large yards and well preserved old houses. Twilight set in and the street lights came on. On the last day of her senior year, Miss Blount signed Shari Keefer’s yearbook. The message she wrote was long, inviting the girl to visit or call whenever she liked. Her telephone number and address was written at the end.
Then one night last month, Shari finally worked up the nerve to pay Miss Blount a visit. The towering middle aged butch seemed shocked at first to see the beautiful blond teen standing there on her doorstep. Shari went inside and she sat on the sofa beside her former teacher. The girl’s cheeks bloomed with heat. She was embarrassed at the way she was crying that night, over nothing. Miss Blount didn’t seem to mind though. Although she looked somewhat flustered, the masculine giantess listened while Shari worried about whether or not she’d be able to handle college and living in a dorm.
But Shari wasn’t worried. She was grieving. She didn’t realize it at the time, but she was grieving the end of high school and her carefree teenage life. She was grieving the loss of her gym teacher, Miss Blount. The grief and sadness she felt though, was short lived. It began with a kiss. That night, Shari’s visit to her gym teacher’s house took a fateful turn. Their relationship as student and teacher ended, and the two of them became lovers.
Miss Blount tried to reassure her former student. She told Shari that everything would be okay when fall semester started and she had enough time to settle in. She tried teasing the girl to cheer her up. Though her vision was blurred by tears, Shari caught a brief glimpse of the butch woman’s face. The steely, rugged features softened in a way she’d never seen before. Miss Blount seemed a little anxious while the silence between them grew. “Shari…close your eyes for me.” The voice, always deep and terse, trembled.
By now, the tension was palpable. Shari closed her eyes. She felt Miss Blount’s lips brushing, and then pressing against hers, triggering a rapid chain reaction of feelings. The first kiss they shared was slow and sweet and vaguely sensual. Shari, not knowing why her former teacher asked her to close her eyes, was caught off guard by the unexpected advance. She dated plenty of guys while she was in high school. She was no stranger to kissing and making out, but this…
My gym teacher just kissed me!
Shari’s eyes were half closed and she felt lightheaded. She felt her stomach drop and countless needles prickled the skin on her arms, shoulders, and neck all at the same time. Miss Blount’s hand went to the back of Shari’s head, pushing her closer. Their mouths met a second time, sharing the kiss of lovers. Shari gasped and parted her lips as she tried to take a breath and center herself. The lanky middle aged woman who asked Shari to call her Velma, slipped her tongue in the girl’s mouth.
She was a big tough woman, the first to come along. That showed me being female meant you still could be strong…
The fire was ignited and set ablaze with each deep, insistent kiss they shared. She had no idea how long she was there, making out with her former teacher. It was surreal. Time seemed to slow at a steady pace. It came to a grinding halt when Velma took hold of Shari’s arm and pulled her up from the sofa. “Come with me.” The towering butch said before steering the speechless teen down the hall to her bedroom.
Shari arrived at her destination. She pulled her car into the driveway, parked, and got out. The beautiful blond stood there near the back door of Velma Blount’s house. Her eyes wandered upward and she stared at the deep twilight and watchful stars overhead. The air was warm and still. She fussed with the thin straps of her sundress, readjusting them, while she stared at the light emanating from the kitchen windows. Shari went to the back door and knocked as loud as she could. Seconds later, she could hear the sound of footfalls approaching.
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