Back in my high school days, Home Economics was a requirement for girls while the boys took Shop class.
I remember the cooking class. One lesson stressed that a healthy family must eat meat three times a day; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The girls in class were shown slideshows of one cut of bloody red, marbled meat after another. Future family, here is your nutritional guideline.
But the real danger of Home Ec was the sewing class. I found out I could sew well enough. Woodstock already happened by the time I took Home Ec. So I started sewing clothes that were cutting edge in my eyes based on images I scanned from magazines, movies, and television.
Billowing sleeved poet blouses with oversized collars were popular for both sexes, so I sewed one in olive green cotton. I made pants out of an olive green, gold, and black striped fabric. Bell bottoms of course.
So one day while wearing this outfit I started walking to a friend’s house down 8 Mile Road. Yeah the same 8 Mile Eminem sang about.
An older man came walking toward me. Slowly he inched over to the far end of his side of the sidewalk, then he started walking on the grass. He held out his hands in front of him as if to protect himself against me and said, “Stay on your own side.” I must have scared the hell out of him as he saw this radical type walking up to him.
My Home Ec project propelled me into the counterculture without my doing much else to warrant this label. If he only knew me, he would have known that I hit the honor roll on every report card. Drugs were never part of my list of must buys. Outside of the one Zero Population Growth meeting I attended, I didn’t take an active part in political groups. My reading list included Soul on Ice and Fanny Hill but I also read many classics.
Today people think I look like a librarian. And not the naughty version of one, the dull, boring version. But in the back of my mind, I can reflect on this wild, radical image from my past. I could scare the ruling class and all I had to do was turn on a sewing machine. Power to the people.