It's spring in the desert.
That sweet smell of orange blossoms drifting around our Valley puts me in mind of lots of springy things.
And being a retired high school teacher that includes countless proms and graduations.
I remembered once when Larry and I were sitting in a dark parking lot at our nearby high school at 1:00 in the morning. We were waiting for our two youngest daughters who teach there to finish closing up the school after a dance.
Teaching is only one of the many things they do. They sponsor a very active student council so there's always tons of extra duties. Like organizing and locking up after dances.
Well, Larry gets nervous when daughters, even adult ones, must be alone in a dark parking lot that late at night. He says it’s a jungle out there.
So, as long as we were able, after dances we'd drive over to sit and wait for them.
Our daughters thought we were silly, even ridiculous as I recall one of them observing.
They're right of course. Two broken down geezers wouldn't be much help in a crisis, but we can watch their backs, and it makes their dad feel better.
Anyway, we had arrived way early, just in time for the huge traffic mess, and pulled into a space up front to get out of the way.
We sat there and watched as hundreds of students left the dance.
This was a semi-formal so everyone was all dressed up. Lots of the kids looked very nice in their best dancing duds. We noticed that this year there seemed to be a great deal of “sparkly” going on, which I really love.
We wished we’d invested in a sequin factory or a “Bedazzler” store or something.
It became obvious after a while, however, that quite a few of the girls were having some really serious wardrobe malfunctions.
Actually the problem seemed to be more of a "lack" than a malfunction.
In way too many cases there simply wasn’t enough wardrobe to completely cover the child in question.
It was late and dark and Larry can’t see very well now, but when I looked over and saw him shaking his head I knew he could see well enough. Once I was afraid he was going to jump out of the car to angrily cover up some little girl with a raincoat we had thrown in the back of the car.
All I could think as this parade passed by was something my daughter-in-law once said to me in a similar situation.
“Kathy,” she cried, “What in the world is wrong with that child’s mother!”
That’s a good question for sure. Something’s definitely wrong somewhere.
Don’t misunderstand. Even though I’m old I know what motivates these young ladies. They want to be noticed and liked by boys. Most teenaged girls do.
Then this "fashion parade" sent me back to another spring about four years earlier at the high school where I was teaching.
It was graduation.
I was sitting at a table just inside the huge auditorium that our district rented for all these ceremonies, one of several teachers signing kids in and giving them name cards to hand to the announcer.
After check-in they formed a line directly behind us to wait for the ceremony to start.
Nervous, excited kids kept coming through the glass doors carrying caps and gowns over their arms.
The group behind me was getting big and we teachers often had to turn to shush them a bit.
There were six boys standing directly behind me, one of them a student of mine.
They all looked so young. One foot still in childhood while a wispy mustache grew on their faces.
Tomorrow would take them to college or work or war. I hoped God would bless them all.
We spoke a few words and then I got busy. The boys went back to talking and joking the way kids do.
The crowd in front of me began to thin out as it grew closer to the time to begin.
Then two girls came in wobbling precariously on the highest heels I’d ever seen. They stopped and gave me their names and I looked for their cards.
Both had elaborate hair, streaked and piled high. It must have taken hours. Makeup included gargantuan eyelashes and lips. Bling was everywhere.
Then there was the wardrobe.
One girl’s tight top was cut so low it was truly a worry. I heard her say to the teacher next to me, “Dress code doesn’t matter because of the cap and gown. We’re going to party after.”
The other girl wore a skirt so short that she couldn’t possibly sit down and still remain dressed, but we teachers let it pass. We were too late. They were 18 and it was graduation after all.
Thank goodness for those caps and gowns. They’d be covered from neck to ankle for a while at least.
As they leaned over to sign in I noticed one of the young ladies glance provocatively over my head to the boys behind me.
I turned to say something to my co-worker and noticed the guys.
All of them were still talking and laughing, but now they were sort of leering in the general direction of the cleavage and bare thighs in front of them. I saw one elbow his neighbor in the ribs in case he’d missed it. Alerted, he looked and then leered with the rest of them.
The girls left, I shook my head and forgot them.
The crowd coming in dwindled to a few latecomers.
Then the door opened and another girl rushed in, hurrying to the table.
First I noticed a sweet smile. Then her hair. It was simple and shiny, swaying gently just above her shoulders.
She had on a dressy, cream colored knit top. It might have been silk. It had small cap sleeves and a neckline curving just below her collarbone.
Her skirt was dark, fitting close to her waist and hips and then swinging out to fall in soft folds ending just above her knees.
Her simple, dark heels looked about three inches high.
Her makeup was light.
I caught a glimpse of a pair of small pearl earrings, a simple necklace, and a thin jeweled watch on her wrist.
When she moved a slight scent of some wonderful fragrance moved with her.
This girl was absolutely lovely. The only other word that came to mind when you saw her was “beautiful.”
It felt like a fresh breeze had just drifted into that now stuffy auditorium.
I turned around then to say some last words to the kids behind me when I noticed those six boys again.
It actually startled me.
Because now none of them were talking, joking, laughing or leering.
All were standing and silently staring.
They were looking at the face of that girl.
I knew it was her face. I could see their eyes.
No crude remarks….no jabs to the ribs.
Just respectful, silent, deep appreciation.
One boy had a wistful look on his face. Two of them had their mouths open. One kid looked like he’d just seen a new car or something.
It was a totally different response to someone of the opposite sex than I’d seen from them just minutes before.
It was then that I realized that I hadn’t given those boys enough credit.
They might be young but they already knew one of the most important lessons in life.
Nope, not the same thing at all.
Beautiful, lovely and of good report.
Those are the qualities to look for. That's what it says in the Articles of Faith. Seek after them.
I think those six guys are going to be all right.
I hope somehow the message gets through to those first two girls before it’s too late.