The Hurt Locker, '70s Style

It’s been a while since I went all old-fogey and talked about growing up in Hubbard in the real-live version of That ‘70s Show. So it’s time we talked about decorating lockers.

In my high school, on the day of a basketball game, the players would get their lockers decorated. This task fell to a group of girls, loosely organized and without an adviser and not the cheerleaders. (The cheerleaders were in transition to becoming their own sport and getting their own lockers decorated, although in 1977 they were a long, long, long way off from that still-unrealized goal.)

Thinking about it now, decorating the lockers should have been assigned to the art students. With their creativity and access to supplies, they could have turned locker decorating on its head. But instead it fell to a small group of girls who had no business decorating anything. We may have been the only people who weren’t doing anything else on the day of the games.

We were each assigned a player. Mine was Richard Pucak, who I had had a crush on in 6th grade. But I had a crush on almost everyone in 6th grade, including my teacher, so it wasn’t awkward at all that by senior year I was taping crepe paper and glitter eagles onto Richard’s locker.

Locker decorating was supposed to pump up the players and get them all psyched for the game that night. To do this, we had the following tools in our arsenal:

Our school colors were blue and white, so most of the time, the crepe paper streamers and the construction paper letters were blue or white or blue-and-white or blue-white-blue or some combination. But by about mid-season, we all got tired of the blue and white, so we ventured into enemy territory and started to use the colors of the opposing team. My favorites were Cardinal Mooney, red and gold, and Ursuline, green and gold. When we played the Catholic schools the lockers were rich.

We’d pick the colors, try to think of a new way to swirl the crepe-paper streamers down or across the locker, and then we’d have to think of a message. The message was always a variation of BEAT the OPPOSING TEAM. And that’s where the thesaurus would come in. If you look up BEAT in the thesaurus, you’ll see there are lots of alliterational ways to win a basketball game.

You could Pound the Panthers. You could Crush the Cardinals. You could do any number of things to the Bulldogs, including the classic Beat. Unfortunately, we played against the Irish and the Indians and you could really only Impede them. That sounds like you’re encouraging your team to trip the other players or put large pieces of furniture in their path to keep them from scoring. Impeding alone might not even win you the game. I spent more time than I’d like to admit pouring over the thesaurus, looking for creative ways to encourage Richard to win a basketball game against various animals and ethnic groups.

Now that I’m older and have lived through 25 years of kids’ crafts and have a bachelor’s degree in a writing related field, I could totally rock a locker decorator’s job. Plus, because I’m not a teenager anymore, I’m not afraid of standing out and having my work be different from the other lockers. Just off the top of my head, without even digging out my old thesaurus, here’s one:

White-on-white. Scant sprinkling of white glitter. Paper snowflakes. Letters formed by glued-together plastic icicles. “Ice the Indians.”

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