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Monday, October 8, 2012


It was my first year in college and I was at Marshall University. Nirvana.
I was in sensory overload as well as excited yet somewhat timid about being around thousands of people the same age as me. My timidness didn't last long as my roommate and I found out really fast that what we wore had to make a statement. And we did. But this was a time in which girls were not allowed to wear pants outside of the dorm. Yep, the Dark Ages was upon Marshall.

And so every day, I wore a skirt or a jumper. Mostly skirts with a blouse or a sweater depending on the weather. Same for my roommate. But it was fall and no way was I wearing a sweater. I will never forget that specific day ever. Never. I had on a madras plaid wrap around skirt, a white blouse and a madras scarf tied around my long hair. Ah but underneath my clothes was a full slip. It was the norm: You had to wear one whether you liked it or not. And I didn't question it because it was just what you had to wear under your clothes.

That day was hot and it was nearing lunch time. Oh the dreaded cafeteria loomed in the foreground as I stared ahead. Luckily, my roommate appeared and we both went in there together like we always did. The cafeteria was a place of hormone high for two seventeen year old girls as well as hundreds of other girls and guys.  I'd stare at guys and so would she and they'd stare back. We had to go to the serving line and have horrid food slopped onto our plates and go from there to a fountain where you got your drinks.

I remember placing my tray down on a tiny counter and picking up a glass to get something to drink and that's when it happened--my wrap around skirt came undone and fell to the floor! I was mortified as I stood there not knowing what to do but the football team knew what to do: They stood up and cheered and then the wolf whistles about blew the bricks off of the cafeteria. My face had to be as red as a beet. It felt hot as fire. I left my food on the tray and picked up my skirt, put it back on and ran out of the cafeteria like a pack of dogs was chasing me. Straight back to the dorm and horrified. I pictured myself being in the newspaper with some caption and my mother seeing it. All kinds of thoughts rushed through my seventeen year old mind.

My roommate had left her food as well and came into our room. She consoled me but yet she laughed. I made up my mind that I would never set foot in that cafeteria ever again but then what would I eat? I had a paid meal ticket for the entire year. Had some spending money and there were times that I ate off campus with friends but that wasn't going to work at all. My money would have lasted two days. I was sick to my stomach just thinking about my skirt, the football team and not to mention who else saw me. Didn't go to classes that afternoon. Got on the bed and got myself into a frenzy. Easy to do when you're young and have that on your mind.

I slept. Woke up and it was dark and the impending next day was looming on me like a heavy blanket. Hadn't eaten. My roommate and other friends went to the snack machine and scoured other girls' rooms bringing me tons of things to eat.  What did I eat? A pack of peanut butter Nabs that stuck in my throat like sand paper. "It will be all right" I heard from everyone around me in the dorm room. Oh sure I thought. I wanted to run away or get a bus and go home but that would have been stupid. And so I stuck it out and had not only my roommate but girl reinforcements when I had to enter the cafeteria the next morning for breakfast.

No wrap around skirt. I decided that I would never wear one ever again in my life. Had on a straight skirt and a blouse and marched in there with them and realized that not one single guy or football player had forgotten the day before. The mortification continued for a week or so on my part. And then I was over it by some miracle. Went on with my college life that year and actually loved it. But I never forget that incident the entire time I was at Marshall. And madras plaid was still the style rage. But not for me. I feared it.

Forward in time and lo and behold, madras came back time and time again. And long slips were a thing of the past. Gone. If I can be thankful for anything that day it was that I had on a full slip. I look back at that day and laugh for look at what girls wear today in college--near nothing. And do I wear a slip? Never. Who does? Oh and I do wear wrap around skirts at times but they are straight and not like the one I had on that day. 

Four years ago, I had to call a guy I remembered from college. Had to tell him about something for the Marshall Alumni magazine. We were talking and then he said "Did any more skirts fall off?" It was then that I remembered he was a football player and with that bunch of guys that day. I laughed and said "Not that I remember." That long he didn't forget it and neither did I. Both of us laughed and the call was ended. If I had looked into a mirror, I'm sure I would have seen a smile on my face. 

Some things that happen to us are never forgotten. The day my skirt fell off was one of them.

Sherry Hill


  1. Horrid food slopped onto our plates and go from there to a fountain where you got your drinks. Palm Beach Vending Machine

  2. Oh you are so right! The food was horrible and thrown onto our trays. Only time there was any good food was when parents were invited!