Reader-Submitted Mini Memoirs: High School Scandals
From an unwanted kiss on a doorstep to toxic rumors in a cornfield, these are our favorite reader submissions.
Narratively readers: You've told us for years that you want space to tell your own stories, so we're trying something new. When we published My High School’s Secret Fantasy Slut League earlier this month we asked for your boldest, most unexpected high school scandals—in 500 words or less—and you delivered. Here are the mini memoirs we loved the most.
I Got Crushed In a Field of Boy Corn and Girl Corn
As I detasseled corn under a brutal sun, I realized the toxic rumor mill of the rows was the safest place for a teenage girl.
By Rebecca Evans of Star, ID
My first day of detasseling, I wore flip-flops, and my big toenail tore from its bed when I tripped on a stone the size of a cat. You don’t look down, toward the ground, walking rows of corn. You don’t look up either. Once you get the knack, you meditate, you pull, tassel after tassel, drifting in dirt, drier than desert, weaving between stalks.
I didn’t know until that first day that there’s boy corn and girl corn. Four female lines for every male. Four for one. That seems right. The males keep their tassels, preserved, intact, like peacocks fanning their feathers. Their pollen dust blows into the silks, the satins of the girls. The girls must have their tassels plucked, like cutting clits, ensuring female pollens cannot contaminate the sacred cross-pollination.
By my third day of yanking tassels, despite the heat, I learned to wear a tee over my bikini top. Learned to cover myself. Those inner rows steamed like saunas, 10 maybe 50 degrees hotter than weather in the regular world. I covered myself, though I wanted to bake and tan and brown into another nation. I covered myself because those girl leaves cut like machetes, left slices cross my belly and ribs. I covered myself out of need for protection from the other girls.
Girls cut like that, and I learned this on my sixth day of jerking tassels. The other detasselers chattering across the rows, over the tops of tassels:
“I heard she gave it up for Joe.”
“She only did it with him because he’s on the football team.”
“Not true. She did it with the whole team.”
“I heard she didn’t actually do it but gave the whole team head.”
“Did she swallow?”
“Probably. Look how fat she is now.”
“She might be pregnant.”
By the time school started, the detasslers spread those rumors and the girl in question had had a baby or an abortion or an adoption. Sometimes two.
I’m glad I took that job, there in the field, with the cheerleaders and jocks and heads. Those of us present weren’t talked about, and at least I avoided summertime gossip. I bought a hat by the third week detasseling, tugged it lower to conceal my now-bleached-out eyebrows. I kept covered to remain undercover — fly on wall, fly on shit, shit on shit. I wish I’d had the courage to speak up for the girl, to stand up against those of influence. I only learned to stay silent and covered. And later, ashamed of my silence and coverage.
After a month detasseling corn, my scalp, despite my cap, still peeled from the burn, my hair stayed silver-white as though I’d aged, every day lasting a decade. By the end of the summer, my toenails ripped, my scalped picked, my hands calloused, and me, much more damaged for that life between those rows.
Why I Rooted for the Romance of My Teacher Friend and a Student
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