The moment I couldn’t forget

Let me set the scene. It’s 7th grade and Spanish class has just ended. My friend and I were making our way to our English class, chatting about whatever. It was just a normal day .. .or so I thought. As we came to the end of the language hall I caught the French teachers eye. I never liked her. She was extremely strict about dress code and scanned every girl that passed by her class. It seemed like she had Terminator vision, she could pick out the smallest thing in your outfit that violated the code. She studied my friend and I as we walked down the hallway. My palms became clammy and my breath seemed to pick up. Oh god stop looking at me. Nothing is even wrong with my outfit! Why are we getting closer? Let’s just turn around. Don’t lock eyes with her just like look away! We were so close to the door, I could practically smell the freedo- “Excuse me, girls,” a shrill voice sliced through my thoughts. We spun around to find the French teacher with a sly smirk and hands on her hips.

“You two are violating dress code.”

“What are you talking abo-”

“Excuse me, don’t interrupt. The tails of your shirts are not covering your butts.”

What kind of dumb rule is that?

“No but you don’t understand I just have to pull down my shir-”

“I’m not done. You girls need to report to the principal’s office right now. No buts or ands.”

“But I-”

“Yes ma’am..come on Bella let’s go!” Before I could protest my friend was already dragging me around the corner.

“What are you doing? Are we going to the principal’s office? Should we even go? What if she finds out we didn’t go?” I spat out as my friend pulled me away.

“We aren’t going, we shouldn’t go and she won’t find out. Come on we are gonna be late to English.”

We made our way to English and I tried to shake off the “traumatic” experience. As I came to I began to realize the absurdity of the whole situation. As if my friend could read my mind she chuckled, “that was really dumb.”

“Literally so dumb! Like who even made up that rule,” I rolled my eyes and smiled.

As we got closer to the English class our giggle and smiles quickly turned into complaints as we realized how outrageous the dress code was. We settled into our seats and continued to discuss the events that had just transpired as other girls began to join the conversation. In no time we seemed to have a little powwow discussing the dress code.

“You know I don’t even get the point of dress code,” I sighed and the girls nodded their heads in agreement.

“You know what? I can’t take this anymore,” my English teacher’s voice erupted from the corner of the room. We turned to face her like deer in headlights. She looked utterly pissed.

“The dress code is not pointless. The dress code is her to protect you girls. It’s here to protect you girls from guys that stare at your butt. It’s here to protect you from guys staring at you in class. It’s here to protect you from harassment. So don’t tell me that there’s no point to dress code. Do you girls understand?” my English teacher huffed as she finished her rather intense lecture.

The air was stiff in the classroom and no one seemed to be taking a breath. Everyone in class looked at us, the dress code Mexican standoff. I was utterly floored. I wanted to fight back, to launch into my own lecture. But as I glanced at my friend she just slowly nodded her head, I knew there was no point in fighting back. With the high tension, the argument would just turn into a shouting match and the point would become moot.

The class moved onto the lesson and we all agreed to just ignore the whole situation .. .well I tried to. I couldn’t let go of what my teacher had said. It left a dark pit in my stomach. I ran through her words over and over again, picking it apart. They were staring at me. Staring. At me. I couldn’t sit still in my desk. I twitched under the weight of her words and the apparent male gaze that was just always on me. I thought about her words for a few days, then a few weeks, then a few months. Her voice still echoes in my head when I walk in the crowded hallways of Westlake. I try to silence her words, tell myself that their eyes aren’t on me and that no one even cares. But the venom of her words still linger in the depths of my mind.