This drawing is an attempt to capture a moment of perfect awkward social ineptness in my life. I was nine or ten—it was the fifth grade—and I was in gym class. That thing I’m wearing up there is a ‘pinny’. If you’re not familiar, it’s basically a sort of miniature cotton apron/jersey that goes over your shoulders and ties around your waist. In gym, when we’d have some sort of frenetic competitive sport that split the class into two teams, we’d put on pennies (ours were either red or yellow) to keep track of which screaming child was on which team.
Nobody liked wearing the pinnies. The were stupid looking. I barely knew stupid looking from Adam, and even I knew they were stupid looking. But we had to wear them, and so we did, draping them over our torsos and tying the strings off in front. And then we’d tear ass around the gym, throwing beanbags at each other or playing some elaborate variant of freeze tag or whatever, and in general we’d end up having so much vigorous fun (or vigorous angry competition) that we’d forget about the goddam pinnies for the duration.
But there are those slow, quiet moments, between rounds or before things get started or after they finish, when conversation can happen. Conversation was never my thing. One liners, okay. Record-breaking belches; dirty jokes: these I could handle. Conversation was right out.
And yet I found myself standing near (cute, red-haired) Jessica Stenson, in one of those pauses, and found myself moved to some jokey conversation. And I looked at her pinny, and at mine, and noticed the differences in how we had tied them and the resulting discrepency in length between her leftover ties and mine. And I grabbed one of my ties—the ties hanging from a knot above my crotch—and sort of waggled it at her and in an inexplicable taunting singsong said:
“Miiiines shorter than yooooours.”
Post-script: after struggling to remember the name of these things (pinnies, not pennies, kudos due Roger Lampe for recalling correctly), I did a google image search to see what’s what in pinnies these days. You can see for yourself—pinnies are (sensibly enough) still around, but they’ve moved to simple pull-over tanktop things without any string ties, apparently. If only we’d had these seventeen years ago…)