The Time I Kicked My Principal’s Son: Part 1

Here’s another tale from Ayala. Her previous series described what it’s like to be a non-rebellious outsider in Bais Yaakov. Coming from a public school elementary school, Ayala never really felt at home in her bais yaakov high school. In this story, I suspect that’s also the reason she had the guts and awareness to do the only right thing. I mean the right thing in part 3, but part 1 isn’t bad either. 

The sun beat down. I was waiting for a bus and feeling very ugly. My parents were stalling on getting me contact lenses, I was wearing my Bais Yaakov uniform, my hair was frizzing, I wasn’t wearing makeup, and I was sweating a bit. I was thankful that only a little old lady at the bus stop was seeing me in this decrepit state.

A scrawny boy with a pizza face peered at me from a store window across the street. Even underneath his acne, his face was ugly. His gaze made me feel like squirming uncomfortably, but I restrained myself as a matter of pride. He crossed the street and walked up to the bus stop, peering closely at my uniform. “Hi. You go to That School?”

I disliked him immediately. “No, I go to another school and I wear this to fool people,” I snarled.

He smirked. “What do you think of Stein?”  Rabbi Stein was one of the principals.

“I don’t think anything of him. I avoid authority figures whenever possible. After all, they don’t understand that girls at bus stops might not want to be talking to the boys that bother them there.” The last thing I needed was to be hauled in to explain this situation.

His smirk broadened. He took out a cigarette and lit it. “I’m Stein’s son.”

My jaw dropped. I had heard that Stein had an asshole son, but I had assumed that it was like all other Bais Yaakov rumors — often overblown and, usually, at least partially untrue.

The old lady at the bus stop chose that moment to cut in.  “Do you mind moving over?” she said in a scratchy Russian accent. “ I have a lung condition.”

Stein’s smirk did not waver. He didn’t budge. My dislike turned to blinding rage. I took a step towards him and jutted my face into his so that our noses almost touched. “Move!” I bellowed.  Somehow, his smirk grew even bigger, but he took a few steps away so that the smoke didn’t blow in the old lady’s face.

 

For part 2, in which things heat up a little bit, click

For Part 3, where the actual kicking takes place, click. 

For Part 4, where you find out what happened after, and get some food for thought, click. 

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The Time I Kicked My Principal’s Son: Part 1

Graduations

For some reason, I’m recalling my high school graduation again.

I did the graduation video. I already wrote about it here.

But one thing: we weren’t allowed to include any photos or videos of the students themselves. Why? Because there would be fathers in the audience.

The graduating class would be sitting on stage, and that made the hanhala uncomfortable enough. (Imagine women being the center of attention at an event celebrating their achievements!) And so what if these students visited each other and presumably ran into each other’s fathers. That was real life, and real life is clearly different than the silver screen. Or projection screen. Whatever. Anyway, point is, once you blow up someone’s face and play it as a video, or show it as a picture, that’s just really bad for men to see.

If you don’t understand this, it’s because you lack the sensitivity to tznius that is the hallmark of a true bas Yisroel.

Graduations

The Things My Teachers Said About Zippers

In the  post “Things My Teacher Said About Tznius” I had the following:

“…that I need to zip my sweater all the way up. Leaving it all the way open looks sloppy, and halfway zipped will attract male attention.”

There were many chortling responses of “Ohyez, my teacher said stuff like that too.” Here are some of the issues Bais Yaakov teachers have with zippers:

“Front zippers were also not okay.”

Front flies are not good. Because they draw attention to… well… there. (This is not an issue with men, apparently. It’s okay for men to have a there, and women can control their imaginations.)

“…Dresses were in style with the zippers down the front of the dress. Our teacher said, ‘Girls, one zip and you’re ready.’ We didn’t even understand what she was saying. Now I finally get it.”

Don’t teachers just have the dirtiest minds, sometimes? It’s a good thing they are there to prevent us from making it through adolescence with pure, unsullied minds.

“Just remembered re the zipper thing: we were told that taking off a sweater or sweatshirt in public isn’t tzniusdig because it makes people (re: men) think about you undressing. I’m still uncomfortable taking off my sweatshirt in anyone’s presence…”

That reminds me of the famous “don’t go out with wet hair or men will imagine you in the shower.” But that doesn’t involve a zipper, so it’s for a different time.

Before I wrap up, I just want to remind you that tznius is about personal dignity and refinement. It’s not about anyone else and therefore it exists no matter who is around. #InternalContradictions

The Things My Teachers Said About Zippers

Things Teachers Say About Tznius

Get a bunch of grads together and throw out a line, and you will be regaled for a good hour with “things you can’t believe my teacher said about tznius.” Add yours in the comments. 

“I had a teacher… who said verbatim, ‘The heat of gehenom is worse than the heat of wearing tights.'”

“I had a chassidish teacher in 7th grade who was waaaay too extreme for the girls in my school. Once she was at our class melave malka and was horrified to see that we were all wearing nude tights. She gave us a whole mussar speech about how terrible nude tights are (although most other teachers wore them). She ended with a fiery “Only bulletproof tights are fireproof — from the fires of gehenom!’ We were like “Waaaat?” Then a girl raised her hand and said, “But Mrs.  Principal wears nude tights too. Are you going to tell her this too?”

“I was told that my jean skirt is the cause of the churban.”

“Like, retroactively?”

“No, for each generation the Bais Hamikdash is not rebuilt, it’s like we destroyed it, and in our generation, it was my skirt that did it.”

 

“If you Flatbush girls wear nude tights, the boys won’t know your legs are covered and may do an aveirah and then it’s your fault.”

I was wearing my hair down and my teacher said I looked like “a shloch.” I have no idea what that was so I just laughed.

“Your shirt is so tight it looks like you left it in the dryer.”

“Nail polish? Do you want to be Jewish?”

“If you think your brother isn’t attracted to your kneecaps, think again.”

Things Teachers Say About Tznius

The Time I Tried an Interpretive Answer on a Hebrew Quiz

Another one from Rose, who knows what’s what, including elbows. 

Every week we had to memorize a hundred Hebrew words for our Safah quiz. In the beginning, I tried to. I remember the time it was body parts. I couldn’t remember the word for “elbow” so I wrote in “ervah.” She wouldn’t give me the point, even when I went over after and argued.

 

The Time I Tried an Interpretive Answer on a Hebrew Quiz

The Time Our Principal Was a Little Obsessed With Sexuality

Another one from Rose, who learned from her principal what is important to obsess over. 
We had an interesting principal.
One time our teacher didn’t come so she came in and told us to all get a Tanach.
“Open to the last Perek of Achrei Mos.” That’s the list of forbidden relationships.
She made us go around and read it all in both Hebrew and in English.
Then she gave us a speech that lasted two periods.
She went on about how the Torah wastes no words on these forbidden relationships. How harsh the punishment is. How we create gedarim go keep us away from them.
She pointed to two pillars on opposite ends of the room.
“If that one is tumah, and that one is tahara, then every geder around tumah pushes us closer to tahara.”
“Maybe it’s not necessarily true that  brushing someone’s hands while getting change will lead to znus, but talking to a boy in a pizza shop definitely will.”
I remember once she was talking about gedarim and she turned to the 12th graders and said “I just gave my Achrei Mos spiel to the ninth graders. Remember how uncomfortable you were? Now you understand why I do it.”
As the 12th graders filed out I overhead one say “I still don’t get why she did that.”
***
Another speech she took a period for:
She handed out printed sheets from Mishna Berura about davening in front of women.
“The reason that I can’t be in the room with my husband while he’s davening is so he shouldn’t have sexual thoughts about me. Similarly with keeping my hair covered in the house, in case he has to make a brocha.”
It was a weird thing to say to a bunch of ninth graders. If there was one thing we were pretty sure about, it was that nobody every had any sexual thoughts about any of our teachers.
***
Our school rulebook said socks should be “blue or black and shoes should be invisible in design.”
I remember in ninth grade I was so idealistic I spent days shopping for shoes that were the same color as my socks and even the stitches matched my socks so you almost couldn’t see them… my mother would joke for years about my shoes being invisible.
Anyway it was silly sock day, which means we wore colorful socks because of something to do with GO or Mishmeres.
In honor of silly, sock day, I went shopping for duck socks specifically.
Apparently nobody cleared this with the principal. So on Silly Sock Day, she was astonished to discover us all walking about brazenly in colorful, patterned, illustrated socks. She stopped a few students in the hall and asked about the socks situation — is this a new trend?
She was assured they would disappear tomorrow — it was Silly Sock Day.
She laughed. “I don’t mind girls expressing themselves with harmless trends. Only when it’s overtly sexual.”
Given how some high school principals are, I guess I should be grateful that she couldn’t think of anything overtly sexual about silly socks.
The Time Our Principal Was a Little Obsessed With Sexuality

The Objectification of the Male Tongue

This story is from Rose, who now realizes that tznius is about keeping the inside inside. 
In ninth grade we all had to make Eretz Yisroel scrapbooks. Our Safah teacher was about ninety years old and a little bit strange. I once used my inhaler in class and she kicked me out for that.
She gave out directions for the scrapbook in just Hebrew and never bothered to  explain them. Each page was supposed to have a quote and something. Lots of people just turned in a former student’s scrapbook.
According to my Big Sister, “nobody” made their own. But I was idealistic and decided to make my own. I did it all myself and had my brother do the lettering and help me with the Hebrew. I wasn’t doing so well in Safah so I wanted to get something right.
Over the course of a few snow days I made a gorgeous scrapbook.
I handed it in. Other people handed in old ones from previous years and she recognized them and they had to do it again. I got an aleph plus for presentation and aleph minus for content.
The most offensive content in my scrapbook was a 1″x1″ image of a soldier sticking out his tongue. She defaced my beautiful scrapbook by actually circling and crossing out the tongue. Twice.
I was pretty happy with my grade, but I went over and asked why she crossed out the tongue.
She looked up at me and started yelling “zeh lo tznius!”
“The man?”
“The tongue! Zeh lo tznius!”
She went on for a bit while I sort of gaped. I had never heard THAT one before.
The Objectification of the Male Tongue