I think I spent more time in the second floor girls’ bathroom at Lake Forest High School than I did in any one of my junior or senior classes.
We were there – my best friends and I – every lunch and chance we could to steal away and smoke our Marlboro Lights; one after another, until the bell rang for class and we emerged from the swinging bathroom door, in a huge, smelly puff of smoke.
Our tobacco-less friends – and true friends they were – tolerated sitting on a cold, dirty bathroom floor, in between old, green stalls with toilets that sounded like tornados when flushed through the old pipes of the old school; and would emerge from the toxic fog looking pale and sickly.
They put up with this dark, plumbed clubhouse day in and day out because we also spent a lot of time in the second floor girls’ bathroom laughing.
And singing, and crying and dancing.
And being silly in a way none other than teens girls can.
Forming friendships through smoke rings and stall doors.
The teachers who classrooms where nearest the second floor girls’ bathroom
surely knew of our lung-blackening infractions, but chose to turn a blind eye – or in this case, nose to it for two years.
I remember only one occasion when a teacher entered, surprising the group of us who had been chattering and laughing so loudly, we were disrupting her classroom next door. Which is exactly why we heard nothing as she cut her way through the Marlboro haze and surprised us.
Teen girls scattered in every direction, dousing butts in the nearest basin, uselessly waving arms and spritzing “Charlie”, so that the teacher now standing in the middle of the still-smoldering mayhem would certainly be none the wiser of the goings-on in the second floor girls’ bathroom.
She simply stood in the center of the two rows of stalls, as a fog of cigarette smoke still hung heavy on the high ceiling, and said loudly, and very firmly, “OUTSIDE!”, which resounded and boomed against the porcelain-filled room.
Our departure was quick and very quiet.
And our return to the 2nd floor girls’ bathroom the very next day, guaranteed.