Wednesday, February 23, 2011
One of the best things about my high school experience was that we had a rather unorthodox class schedule. We were on a six day (A through F) cycle, classes met either 3 or 5 days per cycle. That meant every 2nd or 6th day, you didn't have one of your classes. Often, several of your classes wouldn't meet on the same day. So, for example, your B day schedule could possibly be something like this:
1st period- Free
2nd period- Free
3rd period- Foreign Language
4th period- English
5th period- Lunch
6th period- Free
7th period- Computer science
8th period- Chemistry
Your "Free" periods were left to your discretion as to how to spend that time. It was meant for you to learn how to budget your time, study, do your homework etc. Of course, most of this time was spent thinking up pranks with your cronies in the cafeteria.
Given enough free time, teenage boys will come up with some incredibly ingenious and malicious ideas. A long time favorite tradition in our cafeteria was to knock over someones chair as they stood up from the lunch table. The unmistakable clang of the chair hitting the floor was a signal to every other student in the cafeteria to loudly inform the unwitting offender that he was the target of a prank.
[250 boys being dead silent for a split second]
[250 boys yelling at the top of their lungs]"DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK!!!!!"
Many a young lad encountered a deeper understanding of words like "embarrassment" and "humiliation" in this manner. There is nothing quite like the feeling of hundreds of your peers calling you dick at the top of their lungs at the same time.
Towards the end of the school year, when everyone began getting restless for the coming summer vacation, the pranks would start getting a bit more creative. We would revert to psychological torture tactics for the poor lunch moderators. An instigating table would send a representative to each of the other tables and inform them, that at precisely 11:23, everyone in the cafeteria would be required to sing "Row Row Your Boat." Not exactly ingenious, but who the hell wants to listen to that? The teachers in the cafeteria would be peeved, but after quieting us down, we had more in store.
The Silent Treatment would follow at 11:31. At 11:31 the entire cafeteria stopped making noise. It is infinitely more off-putting to see a cafeteria full of teenage boys being dead silent than it is to have them bouncing off the walls as one would expect. Teachers were beside themselves. I remember one teacher actually yelling at us (she really lost her shit, here, too) because we were being quiet. We responded by screaming at her at the top of our lungs in order to alleviate her apparent discomfort.
But by far the most diabolical invention to come out of my high school's cafeteria was the Soft Apple. The Soft Apple came to represent the resourcefulness, care and ill will found in an all-boys high school cafeteria. Epic amounts of patience and cruelty were poured into each and every Soft Apple.
The Soft Apple was a delivery system for bad intentions. If you take an apple and begin to bruise it without breaking the skin, the fruit underneath turns to applesauce. Given enough free periods, patience, and malevolence (combined with a light touch), one can roll an apple on the table until beneath its skin lay a quarter of a pound of sloshy apple mush, just waiting to explode on any nearby surface. The Geek's table, for example, was a favorite target. Just sky hook your soft apple Kareem Abdul-Jabbar style and KABLOOMERS! You can now laugh raucously at nerds covered in your pulpy mean spirit!
Your buddy's windshield was always another fine target. Driving in front of your friend, Soft Apple in tow, you simply needed to toss your Mott's Hand-grenade straight up out of the driver's side window to watch in your rear-view mirror as it came down and splattered a liquid form of that which keeps the doctor away all over the hood and or windshield of your unsuspecting friend.
Good things do indeed come to those who wait.
My lips to yours!