Curtsy: (n) a respectful bow made by women and girls
I cannot officially report that the stigma ever went away.
I think it passed after a couple of years—but Glenn certainly carried the sniff of it all through his general education days in our small town.
It all happened quite innocently.
For some reason, our high school decided to have a square dance for homecoming.
One of the teachers, our Spanish instructor, was quite the proponent of square dancing, and apparently made a case to the other teachers—how “cute it would be” for a bunch of high school students to participate in the old form of hoofing.
I remember that learning the square dancing was particularly mind-numbing, partly because it was so abstract to my adolescent mind, and also because I thought it looked like some of the stupidest shit I’d ever seen.
But the worst part was when we took one whole day—yes, an entire school period—to learn how to bow and curtsy.
Because somewhere in the process of doing this ridiculous dance (that should have been killed off with the rest of Dixie) there is a lot of this bowing and curtsying nonsense.
So each one of us had to come forward and show off our best bow, if you were a boy, or best curtsy, if you were a girl.
At first, the reluctance in the room hung like moss from trees.
But when the threat of extending the lesson into yet another day was put forth, we all realized we needed to get through this quickly and efficiently, so we became filled with (fake) enthusiasm, which nearly brought our Spanish teacher/square dance aficionado to tears.
Because we were trying to be exuberant, and even a little madcap, when Glenn took his turn–because the girl in front of him had just curtsied–his brain apparently froze and he did a curtsy also.
The room grew still.
Our teacher/instructor was so offended that Glenn was “mocking” her that he ended up being sent to the principal’s office.
But that wasn’t the worst of it.
Being teenage boys, we made the assumption that unbeknownst to Glenn, his body was screaming from some homosexual prison to be free.
And in doing the curtsy, he was manifesting his real desire, which was to be a fag. (This was long before “gay.”)
Even as I write this, I realize how ridiculous it sounds. But so did everything else I thought when I was fifteen.
Glenn later went out for the football team–probably to prove he was a man.
I think he expressed disdain for girls (like the rest of the macho locker-room gang) just so nobody would think he was “overly sensitive.”
Glenn had to be careful when we showered after gym class—not to cast his eyes in the direction of any fellow. So normally he sat on the bench, quietly dressing and staring into his locker.
This is why I can tell you of a certainty, through this tragic story of Glenn, that the curtsy is mighty dangerous.