Silly Costumes

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10 minutes.

Always the longest in my life!

10 minutes between the end of the lesson before the lunch break and the lunch break!

10 minutes from 4:00 to 4:10 when the schoolday ends.

10 minutes between the end of the schoolday and the after-school snack.

10 minutes from 8:50 to 9:00 when mandatory study hall ends (you have to stay in your room, quiet, possibly studying, for an hour and a half).

I begin to dose out my life in minutes! 40 or 80 of lessons, depending on the day.

5 or 2 minutes before lights-out.

“ All right girls! You have 25 minutes before lights out!”

“All right girls! You have exactly 30 minutes to hand in your clothes to be washed!”

“All right girls! You have 30 seconds left to pick up your clean clothes before I lock the laundry and you’ll be cold and naked for ten months!”

Exaggerations apart.

“Ok girls!” It’s time for my favorite announcement: “The hour and a half of study hall is over and they’re selling food downstairs.”

I go.

I wasn’t waiting for anything else.

Aug 24, 2007

MomComm: Midlands, the girls’ dorm, has a loudspeaker system now, so announcements can be made at the touch of a button. I’m not sure I’d like this particular manifestation of modernity. I suppose there’s an electric wakeup bell or announcement as well. In our day, we were woken up by Dham Singh walking the halls, swinging a large, bronze handbell. This was, perhaps, kinder – the bell would reach you from far away, gradually growing louder as you swam into consciousness, arriving to clang right outside your door, and then fading away again as Dham Singh proceeded down the hall.

The bell for meals, instead, was a piece of railroad track hanging from a balustrade, which was whacked vigorously with a crowbar. It would start out slow, gather into a rapid crescendo, and then fade away again. I don’t know whether this musical approach was devised by the man who banged it every evening.

Once, for a prank, Jenny Rudolph and friends stole both bells and hid them. The next morning Dham Singh walked the halls with a tinny-sounding decorative brass bell that the supervisor kept on her desk, which woke us up by its sheer novelty.

Mrs. Silver got her revenge – she locked the doors and wouldn’t let anyone leave for school until the bells were returned (being late for school would have incurred penalties).

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