I think I spend more time in the second floor girls’ bathroom at Lake Forest High School than I do in any one of my senior classes.
We’re there – my best friends and I – every lunch and chance we can to steal away and smoke our Marlboro Lights; one after another, until the bell rings for class and we emerge from the swinging bathroom door, in a huge, smelly puff of smoke.
Our tobacco-less friends – and true friends they are – tolerate sitting on a cold, dirty bathroom floor, in between old, green stalls with toilets that sounde like tornados when flushed through the old pipes of the old school; and 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 spend a lot of time in the second floor girls’ bathroom laughing.
And singing, and crying and dancing.
And growing. Being silly in a way only teens girls can.
Forming friendships through smoke rings and stall doors.
The teachers who classrooms are nearest the second floor girls’ bathroom
surely know of our lung-blackening infractions, but choose to turn a blind eye – or in this case, nose to it. Only once does a teacher enter, 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 hear nothing as she cuts her way through the Marlboro haze and surprises us.
Teen girls scatter 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 will certainly be none the wiser of the goings-on in the second floor girls’ bathroom.
She stands in the center of the two rows of stalls, as a fog of cigarette smoke still hangs heavy on the high ceiling, and loudly and very firmly bellows, “OUTSIDE!”, which booms against the porcelain-filled room.
Our departure is quick and very quiet. And our return to the 2nd floor girls’ bathroom the very next day, guaranteed.