By Daris Howard
I was practicing the 100 meter hurdles when a young man came running up to me. “Coach wants you in his office immediately! ”
I hurried in, and found three other young men already there. Coach frowned as I entered. “Kinda slow, Howard. ”
“Sorry, Sir, ” I replied. “I was at the track. ”
Coach turned so he could face all four of us. “You are to report to the journalism room. ”
“Should we change first? ” I asked.
“No, and there’s no time for that now anyway, ” he grouched as he hustled us off.
As we hurried on our way, I noted our group. I was a freshman, one boy was a sophomore, one was a junior, and one was a senior.
Once we arrived, the first order of business was to get our individual photos. Journalism class was almost all girls. I was extremely shy, and I didn’t relish having my picture taken while I was dressed in P. E. clothes. I asked if we could go back and change, but they said they wanted us how we were. They assured me that I had specifically been voted as the Freshman representative for this event. When I asked what the event was, they just smiled and ignored my question.
After the pictures were taken, we were interviewed. The questions seemed rather random. As the four of us returned to class, the others were as puzzled about the whole event as I was. When the paper came out later in the week, I went through it carefully to find any article that would indicate why we were there, but I found nothing.
The next Monday, there was an announcement in first period. The girls’ dance team was trying to raise money and was having a contest for the best pair of legs. There would be a display in the main hall, and a person could vote by putting money in the canisters.
My curiosity turned to dread when I approached the display. The contest was boys’ legs, not girls’. The pictures were from the waist down, and I was positive one was mine. Several students were studying the photos.
“The sign says there is one senior, one junior, one sophomore, and one freshman, ” a senior boy said. “We definitely want the senior to win. It would be embarrassing if an underclassman beat us. ”
“But nothing indicates who is who! ” his friend said. “How will we tell? ”
The first boy laughed. “That’s easy. The hairiest legs will be the senior. ”
I did not want to win, and I watched in horror as they each dropped some money into the canister in front of the picture I was sure belonged to me. The problem was, even though I was only a freshman, I had needed to shave since I was in 8th grade or I looked like a mountain man, and my legs were of the same persuasion. I considered telling them they were putting the money in the wrong canister, but that would give away that it was me, and I hoped no one would ever know. I considered adding money to one of the other canisters, but I didn’t have any. Fate would just have to play out.
But sometimes fate has a terrible sense of humor. At the end of the week, when it was announced that the winner of the “Best Pair Of Legs” contest was a freshman, and the top half of the picture was added above the legs, I came close to dropping out of school and becoming a hermit. I had beat the next closest competitor by more than ten times. For over two weeks, wherever I went, I endured catcalls from the boys and whistling from the girls. But somehow I survived that horrible experience.
As I recently considered what I could put on my scarce résumé, I asked my daughter if I had ever told her about the time I won the contest in high school for the best pair of legs.
“Dad, ” she said, “that’s already more information than I want to know. ”