Earlier today I wrote up a brief story about a project I did in college. Which reminded me of another great class project from my youth…
In 8th grade civics class, we had to do a budget project. The budget project was fantastic. Big hit. Kids loved it. Very useful for developing real life skills. Etc. The project works basically like this: We all got to pretend to be adults. We were randomly assigned an income, and then could either stay single, or work with a partner to be a married couple (I can’t remember if we got to select marital status, or if that was assigned). We then had to develop a realistic budget based on our income level and marital status.
We had to do the following:
- find a job in our income level (basically open the classifieds in the newspaper and circle something that pays X amount of money. This was not a realistic introduction to the world of job searching)
- find a housing situation within your budget
- purchase transportation
- budget for food
- budget for clothing
- probably a bunch of other stuff we have to budget for
- I think some people were assigned kids and had to budget for those kids
My fake adult got to live The Sweet Life: I was a single childless person in the lowest income bracket (I think $30,000 – does that make sense in the mind 1990’s?) I got a job as a “driver,” which I think meant I was courier. I bought myself a (probably used) Geo Metro, possibly the shittiest car on the market at the time. Presumably I did all my other budgeting- I don’t really remember what all the other individual elements were, except for clothing budget. Because…
One day my teacher, a man, called me over to him. He said I needed to adjust my clothing budget. I had budgeted to purchase one pair of pantyhose per year. He told me I needed to change this number. He said it needed to be higher. I pointed out that I don’t like pantyhose. They are uncomfortable and stupid, and I do not wear them. He said that, when I grow up, I will think differently, and I will have to wear them in a professional environment. I blinked back at him. “But… I’m a delivery driver. I am being paid minimum wage to drive my own shitty Geo Metro around for a living. I’m going to be wearing, at best, some frumpy khakis.” I don’t remember his response to that specific point. But at some point there I remember him saying that his wife is constantly buying tons of pantyhose, and she wears them every day. “I am not your wife.” I can’t remember how long this conversation went on, or how it ended. I don’t even remember if I wound up upping my pantyhose count or not (knowing 8th grade me… I probably stuck with 1 pair).
Fast forward 25 years, and I am a real adult in a real job. Surprisingly I am not a delivery driver; I’m a boring office worker. Wanna take a stab as to how many pairs of pantyhose I own? How often I wear them? How differently I feel from 8th grade?
My sock drawer contains FIVE TOTAL PAIRS of pantyhose-like items.
- There’s a pair of fleece-lined tights I’e worn once or twice ever and that I bought about 2 or 3 years ago because I had to go to a fancy winter party and was sick of freezing my legs off in winter. I’ve worn them once or maybe twice so far. That is my most recent pantyhose-like purchase.
- I also own a pair of green tights I bought when I was dressing up as Robin Hood for a Halloween party. I’ve worn them once. That purchase was about a decade ago, I think.
- I have two pairs of patterned black tights I bought somewhere in the middle there (I think for NYE 2017?), once of which I wore once for that event, and the pair I am yet to ever wear.
- And one pair of red tights bought for a fall mountain wedding in 2017. I can date all 5 of my not-even-pantyhose purchases over the past decade. That works out to a real-world pantyhose budget of…
ONE PAIR EVERY TWO YEARS.
I want my grade rasied, Mr. McGathan!!!!! C+ my ass!*
The real frustration here is thinking back to that class, when that teacher (who, with the exception of this one event, was a super awesome teacher who I liked and respected) looked at a kid who very much knew exactly who she was, and told her that no, she was wrong. She would ignore her super sensitive skin and just deal with discomfort, cuz that’s what all ladies do. She would drop her tomboy persona and tranform into a real woman. She would stop fighting sexist double standards and would embrace them. She would conform, and she would shut up.
(I have no recollection of my readl grade. I was probably fine.)