Summary: Max is a Jr Higher who hates the locker room, and is now likely to be picked on for having a ash cross on his head after the Ash Wednesday service. It ends with a call to pray for others and submitting yourself to God to use you to lead others to Him.
Max hated the locker room. It wasn’t a mild dislike, like the days he would rather not go to science or choir. Max really dreaded walking into the locker room and confronting first the smelliness of the locker room and then those small lockers. These lockers were really just baskets that you could slide in its track and lock when it was closed. They concealed absolutely nothing. If you were dumb enough to set small things in there they would likely fall to the bottom locker.
To Max it seemed that the slipperiest characters in Jr. High always managed to get the bottom locker. The tough guys who always wanted to prove their manliness by pounding on guys always took the top lockers as a way of showing their superiority. And on the other end, the sly types discovered that booty, free for the snatching, always fell down. The boy who took the bottom row could easily reach anything that fell by taking the basket all the way out. Of course they would have to do it quietly without drawing attention to himself so no one would claim the prize. And of course they never had to admit to actually stealing if someone discovered their loss prize. As long as these sly opportunists didn’t bother to tell anyone the profitable trophies that fell their way they could keep them as their own. And if the real owner discovered what happened in time, and thus forcing the sly bottom row fox to give back the booty, he could cover his intentions by making a scene of yelling at the loser in front of everyone else. Somehow being angry and making a lot of noise about keeping your stuff where it belonged seemed to cover up their less honorable intentions. To Max it had ceased to be funny that anger was used to cover deceitfulness, but that was part of Jr. High locker room life. Max hated it.
Other things in the Jr. High locker room were even worse. Max dreaded the Jr High boys who had suddenly become very aware of girls. Too much aware for Max.
Adults might smile as they remember this time of raging hormones, but for Max it created a war zone. You see the whole bunch of them were somehow nervous about the whole thing. In grade school most of the boys didn’t care about girls. Now in Jr. High, the guys with open-minded parents who didn’t bother to teach them things like the preciousness of others, these guys saw girls as another way to prove themselves. For some of them it was an out-right obsession. Complicating the scenario was the fact that most of the girls in Jr. High wouldn’t give these boys the time of day. Therefore, the combination of an inner chemical drive that wouldn’t quit and a lack of self-control on the outside created a tense situation for anyone who didn’t want to go along with them. These boys freely expressed their emotions, attitudes and desires in the locker room. Often they were loud and coarse. They thought it was manly, that it lifted their self worth to talk dirty, tell coarse jokes and make the more sensitive boys uncomfortable.
Teasing and taunts were always in order in the locker room. Often they were not kind. No they were cruel at times. The only time the atmosphere cleaned up was when Coach happened to come walking through.