Showering with Junior Highers

In the two school systems I went to in my teens we had to take PE for grades 7-10. For this we had to wear gym clothes which we changed into before class and out of after class in a locker room. No one in any of my classes ever thought about taking a shower after class. The thought of being naked around a bunch of other 13 year olds was just too horrifying to be imagined. However, in the media it just seems sort of taken for granted that such things occur routinely. Did I go to an out of the ordinary school, is showering after gym class common? Was it ever?

I never saw anybody shower in my high school (Northwestern HS in MD). By the time the Gym Techer blew his whistle there was not enough time to shower, dry off & get dressed in time to make it to next period (we had 5 minutes to get from one class to the next).

I always assumed the shower facilities were used by real sports teams who showed up for actual sporting events.

We had to shower in middle school PE, and it was horrifying. The gym teacher (female) would come in and make sure we all showered. With the exception of one or two show-offs, we’d all undress under a towel, wrap the towel around us, go to the shower, take the towel off just long enough to get wet, then go back and try to dress under the towel.

I hated it - it’s extremely embarrassing to be naked at that age, and I remember my mother was upset that we were forced to shower, too. She had read up on things, and maybe even talked to some “experts” who said that it was akin to torture to force young teens and pre-teens to do such things. Nevertheless, it was the rule, and we had to do it. Pretty stupid, when you take into account that I doubt I ever once broke a sweat in gym class.

I never had to. For one thing, I never broke a sweat, and for another we had virtually no time to get from one class to another. I think one or two people used to shower every so often, but only because they were the ones who looked good naked.

Yeah, I did. No one liked it but there were only a handful of girls who really had issues with it and then showered quickly and dried and changed in the toilet stall.

No biggie to me.

BTW, I’m 33 and graduated in 1986 - just for time references.

I was in ROTC in high school, so I never took PE - but at ROTC summer camp, I had to shower with a bunch of 15 year olds. We couldn’t wait until, say, 2 a.m., either, since there was a scheduled shower time. Some of the girls didn’t care - there was one who regularly fondled her nipples while talking to other girls - but I was in and out in 45 seconds. Two weeks of that.

We also had to use the toilet out in the open. That was awful. I’d wait to use the bathroom until no one was in there. I mean, I can’t even pee when there’s someone else in the bathroom at work - with stalls. Without 'em, forget about it.

At the school I attended for grades 7 and 8 (this was in the early 1970s), we had to shower after gym class. It was a communal shower, no separate stalls. Refusing to take one earned you a detention. We had one kid, Jeff, who racked up detentions like nobody’s business. He always refused.

Most of the time, we could get away with wrapping a towel around ourselves and sticking our head under the shower head just inside the shower room. The teacher would see our wet hair and assume we had been in there.

But one day, somebody tipped him off that we weren’t really taking showers. So he decided to make sure that everybody–including Jeff–took one.

So there we were, thirty naked 12-year-old boys, standing in a room that measured about nine feet square, embarrassed as hell and trying not to touch each other. (Not easy to do, let me tell you.) And we watched the gym teacher beg, plead, cajole, and coax Jeff in with us. Jeff refused, the teacher angered, Jeff cried, the teacher had had enough.

I don’t remember what happened after that terribly well, but here’s pretty much what went down: the teacher grabbed Jeff’s towel and gave him a push in the door. And we saw why Jeff never wanted to take a shower.

He had no penis. Rudimentary testicles yes (he was only 12), but no penis. Just a little hole.

By this time, poor Jeff was on the shower floor bawling his eyes out and frantically trying to cover himself. The teacher, realizing what he had done, moved in to try to help. We all got out of there as fast as we could.

Jeff didn’t return to class that day. Indeed, he never returned to school at all, at least not to ours. The teacher was never censured or reprimanded as far as I know, and as for us, our hated showers continued.

Thankfully, showers were not mandatory at high school.

Hell, Spoons, that’s a tough post to follow.

We never took showers in jr. high or even high school, except after swim class, to get the cholorine out of our hair–and we left our swimsuits on the whole time.

I was reminded of this when getting dressed at the pool. There were some junior-high aged girls in the locker room who were going to extreme lengths–holding up towels to shield one another so no one saw them undressing, giggling frantically the whole time. . . Please tell me I was never that age. . . In school, I can kinda understand not wanted to be seen naked by people you have to spend all day with, but with a bunch of strangers, geez, who cares?

same here…lots of communal showers that no one would use.
We were never forced to use them though. As far as I remember. Most girls were too scared to show off their training bras, let alone walk around naked.

Holy cow, Spoons, I think this is the worst post I’ve ever read… I’m crying here. That poor, poor kid.

In middle school we had a bunch of really old moldy showers, which we weren’t allowed to use. In the high school we have a few showers which I can only assume that nobody uses since that’s where the field hockey girls keep their stuff. On the swim team, we shower at the Y where we practice but only to rinse off & wash our hair, we usually keep our suits on and share showers.

Sheesh, I was so upset, I didn’t finish my post! When I was in junior high and high school (I graduated in 1978) showers were mandatory if you dressed out for gym. I ‘forgot’ my gym suit as often as possible, but eventually would have to dress out, do P.E. and shower. This was in the days before cheap, portable hair dryers. We used to wear shower caps. The horror! Anyway, nowadays (my son is in the 8th grade and has been in 2 middle schools, 6th and 7th grade in California and 8th in Virginia) showers are still mandatory, but you can bring a note from home to get out of them. I wouldn’t give Nick a note, BTW. However, many kids had them and this system would have saved poor Jeff.

It sounds like it would have. Something should have. At the very least, something should have been done to the teacher–I’m still surprised nothing was, and that we had to continue with the showers.

I wonder about Jeff from time to time. I never really knew him (let’s face it; most of us knew him simply as The Kid Who Preferred Detentions to Showers), but he didn’t seem to anything other than an average kid. Probably a nice guy.

But even though I never really knew him, he’s one of the people I think of when I wonder what happened to the kids I went to school with. I hope he made it through whatever school he eventually went to without a problem, and that he went on to be somebody in life. He deserved a lot better than he got at our school, anyway.

Hmmm, cultural differences here.

Back home in Denmark, everyone had PE and everyone showered (open-plan showers) afterwards from (IIRC) 5th to 12th grade. That was just the way things were - noone really batted an eyelid, as a matter of fact not showering was considered downright yucky. I believe anyone trying to teach PE without the possibility of showering would have a revolt on his hands.

Of course some would try to avoid showering - as they would try to avoid PE and everything else school-related - on general principles.

I’ve no doubt that an arrangement would have been made for someone like Jeff - permission to use the teachers (private) shower, for instance.

S. Norman

Jeez, Spoons, that is a terrible thing. I can remember how confused I was about everything at that age, it must have been terrible x100 for that kid.

We had to shower in jr. high. I wasn’t comfortable being naked with a bunch of people, so I only showered a couple times. Usually I changed into my street clothes and got my hair wet. The creepy thing was that Coach Larson would sit up on the wall that divided the open shower area from the lockers to “make sure everyone was showering”. He’d also have kids prove they were wearing either briefs or a jock strap by having them pull open the fronts of their shorts when we were in formation. Just too creepy for me.

I never saw anybody use the showers in intermediate or high school. I have no idea whether they even worked, but if you wanted to skip gym class they were a fine place to hide.

Getting dressed out in front of everybody else was hellish enough. Think I’m having flashbacks now. Shudder.

looks at numerous posts discussing the horror of showering after PE

Yet another thing to add to my List of Weird Things That Americans Do.

When I entered 7th grade, we got mandatory PE, and I recall it vividly. I was a spindly, shy, quiet youngster, still stunned by changing from 1 class of 25 familiar kids all day long to 6 classes of 30 strangers with 7 different teachers and having to run from one end of the school to the other between periods as well as try to jam into the always smoke filled, noisy, kid packed, mosh pit they called the boys bathrooms in order to try to take a pee.

We dressed out, which was embarrassing, having to strip to our briefs, herded into the stinking, kind of dark, cement floored, feet smelling, crowded locker room, with walls painted a high glossy red and white in prison quality industrial paint. Then we changed into shorts and T-shirts, with sneakers.

The coach, a big, not exactly friendly looking monster, mumble-yelled something to us about how we might want to get supporters, which most of us had no idea what he was talking about. Then, outside to exercise, get formed into teams and slaughter each other in what they call contact sports and I considered something along the lines of gladiators trying to kill each other in a pit.

With the coach happily encouraging the bigger, bolder, more aggressive kids to plow us milder, meeker, unathletic, smaller ones into the ‘exercise field.’ He was going to make ‘men’ out of us if it killed us.

Afterwards, showers. We waited apprehensively in the stinking, damp locker room as we were instructed on where to get towels, where to put used ones, how to step in that black, rubber square of stinking solution before going into and when coming out of the shower room. Showering was mandatory.

Some of the basketball team had paraded in after a short practice and by the time coach finished, these huge, hairy, tall, loud older kids were naked and parading noisily into the showers. We reluctantly stripped, trying to keep our briefs on until the very last minute, trying to look each other directly in the eyes and not act scared or embarrassed.

Then, into this huge white tiled room, with drains in the floor, scores of shower heads on the walls and on tiled rectangular columns, where everything echoed and smelled of antiseptic soap and the bigger kids whooped, hollered, made snide, suggestive remarks about the little kids undeveloped privates, some grabbing and waving their own elephant trunk-like hairy members about, offering loudly to service anyone who wanted some and capering about like idiots.

Normal stuff, I guess.

We had to lather up with bilious green, small bars of antiseptic soap, wash fast and try to walk confidently out of this great chamber of hormonal hell. Splash in the cold foot bath, parade in a nude line to the towel room, get a towel, look straight ahead and find one’s locker, dry off super fast, get hastily dressed, shove the now dirty and stinking gym uniform into the locker, lock it up, return the towel to the towel bin, grab one’s books and make it outside just in time for the first bell to ring.

Then one got to battle against the herd to get to the next class.

One was relieved to sink into the comparative calm of one’s desk in the next class, but then, one started to realize that gym would happen again, tomorrow, and the next day, and the next and on into eternity.

At 12, this is hell.

It got even worse later when the more mature guys bought jock straps – the mysterious supporter – then paraded around in these things that let their butts hang out, and, as the days went by, since they only washed them once a week, along with their uniforms, began to contribute a whole new smell to the locker room.

I think I, can fully understand why so many kids who did great in grades 1 through 6, nose dived when they hit 7th, going from As and Bs to Cs, Ds, and Fs until they hit 12th grade.

Some just mysteriously vanished from school, never to be heard from again.

my Junior HS actually shower rtoom actually had a sign in sheet where you had to check your name as you got out of the shower, if you missed three showers, you lost I grade, etc, etc… In retrospect this was the beginning of the end of my respect for formal public education. I was a great student in grade school, but when I hit grade 7 i wanted nothingmore to do with it. Somehow i survived to get a college degree and now a real job, but i like to think that that was despite public ed, not because of it.

I mean, had the point ever been made that showering was a part of hygene that would be one thing, but all of the PE coaches were just sports coaches who ran PE cuz they had to. They didn’t teach anything about health or excercise, much less about hygene.

Wow, the memories come flooding back.