(with proofreading and very helpful editorial suggestions from Artie. Muchas Gracias!)
Some of you may remember a wonderfully funny story by Downing Street a while back called "LOVEBRIGHT ACADEMY." Now Downing Street is one of my favorite authors, but he has his squiks and this made him to pull a few punches in his tale. I happen to be Chairman of the Board of Governors of Lovebright Academy, so I know the whole story. I don't want to call too much attention to Downing's omissions, so with his permission, I've decided just to re-post his story, inserting the needed additions and changes in the appropriate places.
[Note: The girls in this school are a little slow
* * * * *
Two women sat in the oak-paneled headmaster's office, behind the heavy old door with the frosted glass window. The woman sitting behind the big desk was a little under forty, crisply professional in an expensive white blouse and navy blue skirt. She wore her brown hair straight, parted in the middle and curling inward just beneath her chin, framing her attractive face. Red highlights in her hair matched her bright red lipstick and the band of cute freckles that marched across her nose from one cheek to the other. She had her hands folded in front of her on the cluttered desk, listening attentively.
The other woman, sitting on the edge of her chair in front of the oak desk, was a few years younger and a few inches shorter than her counterpart. Her face would have been decidedly pretty were it not so contorted with anger. Her hair was a maze of blonde curls on top of her head. She had a sleek, almost slight figure, dressed to the nines in a designer-label suit of burgundy wool cut calf length. She was visibly trembling with rage.
"Mrs. McLeod!" the woman snarled, spitting out the name in contempt. "You are supposed to be the headmaster of this Academy! It is your job -- your Job, madam -- to maintain the academic and social standards that have given this institution its high reputation in the community. Not to mention conforming with ordinary norms of decent behavior! I cannot believe the things I have seen here today! The slovenliness. The utter lack of discipline. The public indecency! How could you allow this happen? How could you let standards slip so far, in just one semester!?" She glared at the other woman, her blue eyes bright with shock and outrage.
The headmaster wanted to roll her eyes, but she didn't. It was true there had been many changes at Lovebright Academy recently -- all for the better as far as she was concerned -- but the line about high standards was a bit much. It was well known among the upper crust that the former Mrs. Lovebright's School for Girls was the prep school of last resort. It was a place where the rich could send their pampered, less brightly lit daughters and have some hope of getting them into college, or failing that, at least having a prestigious name on their resume before marrying them off to someone rich enough to support them. Grade point averages and similar niceties were generally a moot point as long as Daddy could afford the tuition.
The school had never taken more than 30 new students each year, allowing it to boast of small, interactive classes. In place of academic excellence, it substituted strict discipline, a rigid code of dress and behavior, and a nearly obsessive attention to upper class propriety. Until recently, that is.
With the school's reputation (and enrolment) beginning to decline at the same time that its impressive but moldering old Victorian building needed major repairs, the Board of Governors decided, reluctantly, to re-invent the Lovebrigh School for Girls as Lovebright Academy. The old headmaster ("headmistress" she had always insisted) retired. The Board's search for a young, dynamic headmaster who understood the need to educate spoiled young women destined to be the leaders of tomorrow, or at least the wives and mothers of their children, lead them to Mrs. McLeod. Dr. Vargas, the Board's Chairman, even insisted they set up a few scholarships, hoping to attract at least a handful of students with real potential. The final and most wrenching change came when, in order to qualify for government subsidies, the Academy began to accept male students.
The headmaster kept her voice calm. "Why, Mrs. Baxter, whatever do you mean? I confess I have decided to give the students a little more ... latitude in ...."
"Latitude!" the other woman cut her off. "You call this latitude? Don't you mean license? Mrs. McLeod I have been here for no more than three hours and already I have seen enough violations of good order and discipline to cost you your job! And perhaps the entire teaching staff! I am shocked, madam. Shocked and appalled. Let me tell you I have every intention of bringing this to the attention of the Board, and you will be very quickly without employment!"
Mrs. McLeod tried not to let her fear show, or her anger. She knew Mrs. Baxter well enough to know that she would carry out her threat, the little bitch. Mrs. Baxter was an "old-girl" herself, and in the Lovebright's tradition she had succeeded in seducing a wealthy businessman and getting him to marry her when she "accidentally" got pregnant. Nevertheless she continued to meddle in the affairs of her alma mater, mostly by using her bought seat on the Board to oppose any new or innovative idea. The headmaster could not understand why Dr. Vargas had gone along with - even promoted -- Mrs. Baxter's visit the campus. "Don't worry. It'll be alright," he told her mysteriously.
"Perhaps it would be helpful," the headmaster said coldly, "if you could describe some of the things that are upsetting you."
The blonde woman was almost too angry to speak. "Some of the things! Well, I mean, all right then, why don't we start with the dress code -- or should I say the absence of a dress code!"
"We have relaxed the rules slightly. But students are still required to wear the school uniform."
"You call that a uniform!?" Mrs. Baxter retorted. "They're hardly -- I mean there's no -- " she struggled to express her amazement.
Mrs. Baxter had dropped in on the Academy as the first of a series of regular Board inspections recently begun by Dr. Vargas. Slyly, she arrived unannounced and a day earlier than her scheduled visit. She remembered Lovebright's as a quiet, protective, old-world kind of place, and she didn't care at all for the changes that had taken place. She didn't trust that new headmistress either; she was too full of modern ideas about education.
But nothing had prepared the young wife for what she had seen. In Mrs. Baxter's day girls at Lovebright's wore a traditional uniform: a white cotton blouse and knee-length plaid kilt, blue knee-socks (cable-knit tights in winter), black flats, and a formal blue jacket bearing the Lovebright's crest. A severe dressing down awaited the student who dared to wear her skirt above the knee, or let her blouse come untucked.
But not any more, it seemed. Mrs. Baxter arrived at the Academy just as classes were changing and she was amazed at what she saw. The girls still wore the traditional uniform, sort of, but all the rules of proper dress had been subverted if not abandoned. White blouses were still the rule, but sensible cotton had been replaced by smooth silk and slinky satin, worn tight, thin, and sleeveless. Some of the blouses were see-through, most had the top three or four buttons undone. A number of the less well endowed girls were wearing push-up bras to make the most of their inadequate cleavage.
Few of the girls bothered to wear jackets, and if so, they were never buttoned up. Of the two that Mrs. Baxter saw in that first shocking few minutes, one had done up none of the buttons on her blouse, but just tied it beneath her breasts, leaving her midriff bare. Mrs. Baxter was momentarily relieved to see at least one girl was wearing her jacket properly, until she realized she wore no blouse at all beneath it.
The rest of the uniform was similarly mocked. All of the girls were wearing their kilts micro-mini length, and some of the seniors' were so short they barely covered essentials. Kneesocks were nowhere to be seen, although many of the juniors wore sexy, over-the-knee stocking-things that stopped about mid-thigh. The rest of the girls were wearing nylons, sometimes sheer and skin-toned, but more often in gaudy colors or patterns with shiny fabrics and seams up the back.
"The older girls are even wearing stockings!" Mrs. Baxter exclaimed. "Every time they bend over the slightest bit in those little hussy skirts their garters are right there for all the world to see. How can you tolerate letting our children dress in such a manner!?"
Mrs. McLeod nodded understandingly, but privately she had trouble understanding why anybody would object to stockings. She was wearing a pair herself, silk ones as a matter of fact. They were very comfortable once you got used to them, and felt wonderfully feminine. Nowadays she seldom wore anything else.
"Only the seniors are allowed to wear stockings," the headmaster said reasonably, "and they can hardly be considered children. The majority of them are eligible to vote. Shouldn't they be treated as adults if they are to adapt to an adult world?"
"That's hardly the point!" cried Mrs. Baxter. "We are supposed to be teaching these students discipline and decorum, not lasciviousness. Why are the girls allowed to wear shoes like that? Haven't you noticed?!"
Mrs. Baxter certainly had. The traditional black pams had been abandoned as completely as kneesocks. Instead, the girls were wearing an astonishing variety of fancy footwear in which high heels figured very prominently. Classic pumps with narrow toes and immoderately high heels seemed to be very popular, which combined with the traffic-stopping brief skirts and slinky hose to create a leg-man's dream. The more adventurous wore exuberant platform shoes and sandals in wild colors and bright patterns that lifted their brightly painted toes several inches off the floor and their heels even higher. While Mrs. Baxter watched in amazement, one pretty girl set down her books in the hall, put one foot on them, and spent several minutes carefully tightening the laces on her leather boots. She didn't seem very concerned that her too-short skirt hiked up over her behind to reveal lace-edged, powder blue panties to the approving admiration of two boys.
Mrs. McLeod patiently listened to the younger woman rant, without offering comment. What a hypocrite, she thought. Chastising my girls for expressing themselves a little bit while she sits in front of me in her thousand-dollar suit and matching heels. Didn't she realize that young women were naturally fashion-conscious? Aren't we supposed to teach them to take pride in their appearance and not be ashamed of their sexuality? The headmaster crossed her ankles beneath the desk, feeling the comforting familiarity of the ankle straps on her own shoes. There were several more pairs in the filing cabinet if she felt like changing.
"And the make-up!" Mrs. Baxter exclaimed, growing more animated by the moment. "Why in my day we weren't even allowed to wear make-up during class hours. Those girls are painted up as if they are preparing for a night at a club in the red-light district! They spend all their time between classes fussing with their hair and fixing their mascara. Who -- who's idea was it to install lighted make-up mirrors in the washrooms?"
"The lighting in the washrooms wasn't very good," the headmaster began, but her guest cut her off again.
"It didn't need to be good! It's just a washroom! Are you hearing anything I'm saying?"
"Of course I do. But Mrs. Baxter I assure you, you are getting all upset over nothing. A few minor changes to the dress code, nothing more. Is there anything else?"
The young blonde stared at her blankly for a moment. "Anything else? Mrs. McLeod, there is much more...else. There is openly loud, lewd and indecent behavior going on right in the halls of your school! And these new male students are right in the middle of it!"
In fact, the boys were even more disturbing than the girls. Lovebright's had only been co-educational for a couple of years, and girls still outnumbered boys by about three to one. Teens are terribly sensitive to embarrassment, so Mrs. Baxter expected that even the seniors would be a little intimidated by all those girls.
Far from it The boys strolled down the halls like minor princes on a royal walkabout. They strutted like gangsters who had just been acquitted. They joked and laughed. They kissed the cheeks and patted the barely covered fannies of the girls they walked by. They whistled and stared, and handed out loud, unsubtle compliments at girls they admired.
And the girls ate it up. They giggled and tittered at the sexual innuendo and basked in the most tasteless compliments. All the girls laughed at the boys' lame jokes and flirted shamelessly at every opportunity. The halls were loud with shouting and conversations, jokes and laughter, more like a party than a school day. The noise settled a little bit as Mrs. Baxter walked by, and many a nervous glance, or so it seemed to her, was directed her way. But a few feet behind her the revelry started up again, as rambunctious as ever.
When she had recovered from her initial surprise enough to look more closely, Mrs. Baxter noticed another oddity. There didn't seem to be any solitary boys. Every boy in the school was walking along with an attractive girl on his arm, sometimes two. Even the big chunky goofs and quiet, nerdy types seemed to be amazingly popular. A few of the more confident guys were followed by an ever-changing throng of admiring girl students, all jockeying to be near him, like groupies around a rock star.
Mrs. Baxter noticed one fellow in particular, pausing outside a classroom with his girlfriend in tow. She was a head taller than he and spectacularly beautiful. She was dressed, like all the girls, in a travesty of the school uniform: a slinky white bodyshirt over a foreshortened kilt, dark, patterned hose that sparkled as she walked, and high-heeled black ankleboots. When Mrs. Baxter was a student, even hair worn that long and loose would have been against regulations. Not to mention the blatant display of affection with which she said goodbye to her boyfriend.
Evidently they were going to different classes. Standing by the classroom door, in full view of anybody, the couple embraced, while the girl bent down and gave her boyfriend a long, sizzling kiss. The kiss turned into an upright necking session. When the boy ran his hands down her back and onto her bum the girl merely cooed excitedly and rubbed her crotch tighter against him. At last he broke the kiss and gently pushed her away. She was breathing hard. Reluctantly, looking back at him doe-eyed, she turned and waltzed into the classroom where the teacher was patiently waiting for the class to assemble.
The girl was barely out of sight before another girl, a hot-looking blonde in a tight white jersey and an equally short kilt, shouted out his name from down the hall. She tripped down the noisy corridor toward him in her wedge-heeled slides, smiling excitedly, and fairly threw herself into his arms, loosing one gaudy shoe in the process. After a long and passionate melding of lips it was again the boy who pushed her gently away. Until he mentioned it, she seemed hardly to have noticed her missing shoe.
As she watched the couple recede down the hall, arm in arm, Mrs. Baxter looked on, amazed and unbelieving. Never mind that the way both girls carried on with the boy bordered on public indecency, much less proper decorum for a private school. There was an even bigger mystery. The girls were both gorgeous and radiating sex appeal; the guy was short, plain, a little frumpy and wore glasses. How in the world did he ever attract a girl like that? Mrs. Baxter pushed a stray curl away from her ear and was surprised to find moisture there. The aura of teenage sexual tension was so thick it was affecting even her.
"Mrs. Baxter," the headmaster said, clinging desperately to common sense, "You must remember that these are adolescents just emerging into adulthood. They are discovering the other sex. Naturally, when young men and women are thrust together there will be romantic liaisons -- "
But the blonde visitor was not listening. "Romantic liaisons! Is that your Harvard euphemism for carrying on in public like rabbits!?"
"Well, of course we attempt to discourage too open displays of affection. But you know how young men are. Sometimes their enthusiasm is a little hard to hold in check."
It was a weak explanation, but Mrs. McLeod was loathe to admit that she found it difficult to discipline the male students. They were all such huggable, handsome little hunks! Even the shy, nerdy types were simply too cute for words. Oh, she had hauled a couple into her office after some particularly flagrant incidents, intending to give them one of her famous tongue-lashings. But when the guys stood smiling sheepishly in front of her she found herself as flushed and giggly as any of the young girls in her charge. Unable to stay angry, she gave them a gentle lecture and sent them on their way. For some reason she found the incidents delightfully arousing, and any day when she had a student in her office her husband was guaranteed a lively time in bed that night!
"Are you admitting then," Mrs. Baxter said icily, "that you cannot control your own students?"
"No, of course not! But you must understand that certain, ah, youthful rambunctiousness is to be expected. It's part of -- "
"I see." the blonde woman cut her off disdainfully. "So you are unable or unwilling to exercise your authority to maintain even a semblance of discipline. The Board will be interested to hear that. Could it be that student decorum would be more easily maintained if the teaching staff set a proper example?"
"What, what do you mean?" Mrs. McLeod said meekly. She didn't like the way this was going.
"I mean, quite simply, that I expect teachers at this school to be exemplary in appearance, conduct and performance. I have seen nothing of the sort here, Mrs. McLeod!"
Still reeling from her experience in the hall, Mrs. Baxter had found herself outside an empty classroom just as the noise of class change subsided. The classroom was deserted except for a good-looking young woman sitting at the front desk. Evidently she was one of the new replacement teachers that had been brought on earlier in the semester.
Women had always composed most of Lovebright's teaching staff, and like its building and its philosophy, much of the staff had grown old and tired and in need of rejuvenation. In the upheaval following the name change and the admission of boys, many of the older teachers had retired. A few months later several others had abruptly resigned amid disturbing rumors of illicit affairs with students. ^^ The situation required a raft of new hirings, many in mid-semester. To save time, the Board had allowed Mrs. McLeod to make the appointments herself, with Board ratification suspended until after the school year. Mrs. Baxter was therefore not surprised that she did not recognize the pretty young teacher.
"Hello," she said, striding into the room, "My name is Baxter. I'm with the Board of Governors, here on inspection. And you would be...?"
The woman was studying herself in a hand mirror while she applied lipstick. She looked up, startled, trying to lodge her chewing gum in a corner of her mouth. "Oh! Oh, uhm yes, Mrs. Baxter, oh, yes. Of course. I like, didn't see you there. Yes, oh, I'm Crystal Sexsmith, senior history and, uhm, geography. We were, uhm, sort of like, expecting you tomorrow."