16 October 2007

On Flying Pizzas and Astrophysics

Not sure what started the food fights. But once they started, there was no stopping them.

This was back in high school. In an all boy's catholic school in west baltimore, to be more precise. Among the things I remember about the cafeteria was that there was a huge over-sized portrait of the founder of the order of Religious Brothers that ran the place. He was a dead-ringer for Mr. Drummond from 'Diff'rent Strokes'.

Which is one of the reasons I remember the image of an opened-and-tossed pudding-cup staining his jowls.

The cafeteria was a dangerous place. If you weren't on the inside, you were toast. So, let me give you an insider's view.

Mind you: 1) I never actually took part in a food fight. I was what you might call an anthropological investigator -- at the time, I think the boys tossing the pizzas had another name for me. 2) I do not condone wasting food in any way; I will be the first to admit that what happened back then was immature and despicable... and obviously the fault of a lax administration.

It started off innocently enough... a whiplashed french-fry here, a spit-balled straw-wrapper there. Pretty soon there was meat and cheese flying through the air.

Coincidentally, one of our most celebrated food-tossers is now an astrophysicist. So go figure.

Anyway, let's get into one of the more audacious events. John drowning the Freshman.

See, the foodfights had become so common and the administration was so woefully unprepared to deal with them, that they started to get boring. You can only see so many flying cheeseburgers before they all start to run together.

So, John -- a boy thrice the scale of the ordinary nerd -- decided upon a campaign of direct guerrilla action.

I remember it like it was yesterday. The most disturbing food-fight technique I've ever seen demonstrated. John picks up a large cup of soda, walks over to a table of Freshmen, and doesn't fling the drink, nor toss it over his shoulder -- he actually removes the lid and proceeds to pour the soda directly onto an unwitting boy. This was food-fight gone bully-style. Bad news. Yet memorable. I've long thought this could make a perfect characterization in a high school movie.

The greatest of all food-fighters was the aforementioned astrophysicist. A man who could fling half a pizza thirty yards under the radar of the lone teacher-on-duty. A man who could take out a Channel-One TV with a half-eaten apple. A man who single-handedly could cause a riot among 200 high school boys using nothing other than a popsicle and a Sprite.

Immature? Absolutely. The stuff of legend? Right again.

The young astrophysicist was actually the only student I've ever known either when I was a student, or now as a teacher, who was such a threat to society that he actually got banned from the cafeteria. For two years.

Haven't seen a food fight in some time. Good riddance. Food is scarce these days and it seems that kids have more respect for it. They're busy getting in trouble in other ways. Good for them.

But there's something about that image of a pizza flying through the air that is so surreal, so stupid, so wrong. It just ingrains itself on yr brain and there-ever-after stands not as an image of waste, but an image of youth -- which, come to think of it, are two things often confused with one another.

1 comment:

mike said...

ahhh, high school.

let's not forget that after everyone became bored with food the open-lid bottles of shampoo came next.