Yeshiva Memories: How they would obstruct our free time

They always told us that it was not on purpose, but we knew better. They would make up excuses like you have to have your seder some time, or that you cant go that long without staring into a gemara, but we all knew their ulterior motives. They had planned to interfere without free time in any way they could, and while they probably wanted to just keep us inside all day, forcing gemara and mussar down our throats, they just knew the parents would call up and complain. Rabbi my son tells me he has no free time, how do expect him to get any exercise? Or whats this I her about not being able to go outside and do something other then learn? Or maybe its what the parents wanted, but they feared a mutiny from the students, I could always remember in college when the teacher was 5 minutes late, everyone would agree to leave. Well that never happened at mishna brura seder, there were always a couple of really goody goodies, who would insist on staying, not wanting to get in trouble, they were almost always in-towners or Rabbis sons- bastrads!!

It would be Sunday and you would be gearing up for an all day excursion and suddenly they would announce shmuz or seder would be at some random whacked out time. I mean we were in school from 7:30 till 2:30 already, and all the sudden we would have to be back at 5 or something, because God forbid the dorm councilors do their job and follow people to the movies or to go meet up with girls. Instead the dorm councilors would sit overlooking the door where people entered and exited and if you didn’t “check out” you got in trouble. Checking out was another way of saying, I am going here or there, but the trick was you had get receipts, trouble with that was, well haven’t they ever heard of window shopping. I rarely bought anything at the mall, I just went to look at stuff, well mostly at all the hotties that flock to the mall on Sundays. They probably realized this, but banning the mall was just too crazy even for them.

It was funny with regards to girls, they would ban any place that the girls school in town was going. So if we wanted to go get ice cream or go to the JCC and they were there, forget it. Its funny because I never understood their reasoning, the girls school was tiny and besides for one or two girls, they were not very good looking- especially compared with all the other girls at the mall or JCC. I think they felt, wrongly may I say, that were more willing to chat up a bunch of frummies, than a bunch of public school hotties, and they were dead wrong. There was always that fear that the frummy girls would snitch, so why not get away with talking to random girls, which you could meet up with at a later time and get away with it too.

So some years it got real strict and you had to get a receipt every half hour or so, that was to prevent you from seeing a movie. It was also used to make you so poor, that the next time you had free you would jut bum around the dorm and talk loshon harah, then we would learn chofetz chaim and understand what we were learning- it was all one big conspiracy in my mind.

In later years people just stopped going out, I think it happened around the same time obesity became such a hot topic on the news. Funny because we never even had gym, sometimes on Saturday nights if the girls weren’t there, the yeshiva would rent out the JCC and we would swim and that would be our gym. Legally though I think they used our going up and down the stairs as our gym time, I am dead serious by the way, legally you had to have gym and that was it. They might as well have included thumb dipping and shuckelling as part of phys ed.

Surprising enough the school was located in a an area that was real trendy, I mean house parties open air cafes and nice little boutiques lined the street. I feel that this was used at their advantage to make our lives miserable, I can imagine the hanhalla telling parents to look around at how beautiful the “campus” location was and coming back to little Yossella and saying, oh its so nice and there are so many nice little stores to by your parents gifts at. Great, but all the sudden Yossi would sit down at the weekly mussar shmuz and get bombarded by this beat down Mesilas Yeshurim style of “looking down when you walked down the block” because there were naked women outside. My Rabbis loved the word naked, when you saw a girl without a burqa, she was naked, when you wore blue jeans you were also naked- it was quite funny as I recall, I mean I hated jeans and all, but I admit I liked my women naked back then, now I prefer them a little dressed up- but a 14 year old kid dreams of short shorts and tank tops, mussar be damned.

Weeknights were similar, until they started banning going out all together on most nights, you had a couple hours before night seder and maariv. I used to ride my bike, rollerblade and skateboard, but I felt real bad for 90% of the kids who didn’t have an outlet, I think that is what led to many of them falling into the clutches of “off the derechness” they just had nothing better to do, drugs, girls and just plain old bumming around, so much so that many of my old classmates have taken the term bumming around and used it as their current profession.

Even when you were perfectly innocent you were accused of wrong doing. I can remember hours spent riding my bike only to be interrogated and roughed up as to whether I was at the evil movies or not. It funny as I look back on it, that my average movie attendance per year is all of about 2 or 3. I actually never went to the movies during high school until 12th grade, I was a darned good kid and most of things that happened like the drugs I was totally impervious to, until many years after I “graduated”, in quotes because like many of my fellow classmates, we walked the aisle but never actually graduated, I got a high school diploma after several years of college.