Mommy, What Is a Hack?

Whenever I talk about my time in junior/senior high school, attended on the Oregon coast, my husband and I realize that we had very different experiences growing up! The rural/urban divide can be seen as follows:

The Hack. Tom is incredulous that the hack, as we called it, was commonly utilized as a behavior modification tool at Neah-Kah-Nie Jr./Sr. High School until the mid 1980s. Thankfully, I didn’t experience this discipline technique first hand, but I do remember there being two paddles, both wooden with holes, that resided in the junior high and senior high principal’s offices. At the time, none of us really thought much of it, but friends who come from urban school districts always fall out of their chair when they hear of spankings in the school.

Sitting on Ice. Some student council hero had the bright idea to make each class president sit on a block of ice during a homecoming week assembly. The president who made it the longest would garner the most points for their class. I, unfortunately, was a class president for this event and we (I and my three other colleagues) sat on the ice, in shorts, for ages. It quickly became clear that no one was going to get off in front of the whole student body and be labeled the wimp who couldn’t deal with a little cold. After half the assembly had passed, and long since having any feeling in our asses, I negotiated a solution where we all rose off the ice simultaneously and split the points evenly.

When we went down to the locker room to change and warm our bootys under the hot showers, we were all greeted by the searing pain of huge blisters and ice burns from this little competition. We crawled into the back of the principal’s truck and were taken to the emergency room. The school administrators were very worried about a lawsuit. “If she’s dumb enough to sit on a block of ice for that long…” well, you can figure out the rest of my mother’s response!

Slave Day. When I was in junior high, they had a very politically incorrect fundraiser at the school called slave day. The point was to raise money by having buyers bid on a person, securing the right to be in charge of them for the following school day. I allowed myself to be auctioned at the behest of my friends on the student council, but only after I negotiated the right to refuse to wear diapers for whomever bought me. Unfortunately, my imagination was much too limited.

You see, I was a bit of a terror in junior high (I was nice, but I was uber squirrelly) and I hadn’t really thought ahead to the fact that a teacher might seek revenge by purchasing the right to haze me for a day. In fact, three teachers pooled their funds and did buy me — the gym teacher, the Spanish teacher, and the social studies teacher. Talk about sinking feelings and pits in the middle of the stomach.

I tried to avoid my tormentors by hiding out in the girls locker room when I arrived at school for my day of servitude. Unfortunately, they were ready for me, stationed at the exits to greet me when I ducked out after the bell rang. They dressed me in Coach’s shorts, an “I’m with stupid” t-shirt that had been in the boy’s locker room forever, a pair of Coach’s huge cowboy boots, and if memory serves, a set of rainbow suspenders. I had to wear a pacifier around my neck and whenever they asked me what flavor it was, I had to suck on it and tell them. I also wore this big decorative sombrero, around which they made me do a hat dance in the cafeteria at lunch time. They made me scrub some of the locker room floor with a toothbrush, I had to act out a donkey for a vocabulary word in social studies, complete with braying…the list goes on and on.

Please keep in mind that this rollicking good day of fun also happened to coincide with picture day for teams and clubs. During photos, I would hunch down in the back, trying to hide my t-shirt and hat head.

Needless to say, Tom doesn’t have any such stories from his suburban upbringing in New Jersey…he doesn’t know what he was missing!

4 Responses to “Mommy, What Is a Hack?”

  1. Chris

    oh my gosh, this cracked me up 🙂 you’re very right – school in suburban nj was not like this!

  2. Michele

    Yes, Tom always gets a horrified look on his face whenever I start telling these sorts of school stories!

  3. Steve

    Well Michele, at my high school (Jesuit High in Portland, OR) hacks were a way of life. There were very few of us who escaped the beatings. They went like this:
    Commit infraction
    March to boys’ bathroom
    Bend over and grab ankles
    Have vice principal smash you on the back of your upper thighs with shaved down baseball bat
    Walk around circular wash basin so pain sinks in
    Repeat–up to seven times.
    And our parents paid astronomical tuition for this!

  4. Michele

    Steve! Now that’s what I’m talking about. Wow. Makes me glad that 1) I was not a boy at a catholic school in those days; and, 2) I was not a boy at a catholic school in those days.

    Isn’t it crazy how much things have changed — for the better? I am happy to report corporal punishment was not that extreme by the time I was in high school. Tom will laugh that my high school was an improvement!

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