Elementary school. Fourth grade. I was 9-10 years old. One of the only really memorable activities from that year in school was the Ghost Town. I think we earned and saved up funny money for use at this event throughout the year.
On the day of the event, the gym was filled with all sorts of storefronts themed after old wild west towns. The entire fourth grade got to play “ghost town” for a day. Root beer floats at the saloon, other shops where you could do things or buy snacks or knickknacks (I don’t recall if I got to buy anything or not, but I remember wanting a Chinese yoyo). I’m sure there were other activities as well.
And there was a jail. For those who misbehaved or broke the rules. I spent the latter half the day there, hah. Was I such a trouble maker? How’d I get tossed in there?
I should mention, when younger siblings had their ghost town day in subsequent years at the same school, it seems to me like their jail was yet another facade in the gym area. Old west themed, so even being in jail was kinda funny.
During mine, however, the jail wasn’t made up like another themed element of the ghost town… it was a separate, fairly large room with no old west theming at all– it was pretty much a type of school detention. More like being banished from the ghost town.
Well, as a part of this event, girls were required to make and bring a lunch for two. These lunches were to be auctioned off to the boys, who would then sit and eat the lunch with the girl who made it. I don’t remember if they told the boys who the lunch belonged to or not prior to auctioning it… maybe they did. (In retrospect, this seems like kind of a terrible idea to me, but I guess it seemed innocent enough at the time to those who designed this event… they were just 9-10 year olds, after all, right? As long as everyone plays by the rules…)
You probably have an idea where this is going. It hadn’t really occurred to me until now, but that’s the first time I can recall any organization trying to train kids to pair up with the opposite sex. Is this some type of social engineering? Like dances that were held in middle and high school? Never really thought about it before. I digress.
Fourth grade. 10 years old. Girls still had cooties as far as I was concerned. So being the genius that I was, I told my mother nothing of this activity, so she made my “cold lunch” as usual. So when lunch rolled around, I bid on no lunch at the auction.
(Seriously– was there an exactly equal number of girls and boys in 4th grade? How did that even work? No doubt the teachers had figured the numbers out, and I left some girl with her lunch unpurchased and eating alone and maybe feeling bad that no one wanted to buy their lunch… see why I say this seems like a terrible idea? If for no other reason than because of jerks like me… but certainly some lunches drew much higher bids than others.)
Instead, after the auction as people went out to eat beside the school, I wandered back to the classroom and retrieved my usual lunch.
It wasn’t long before I was busted by other students wondering how I’d gotten out of buying a lunch, hah. So instead being able to use all that dough I saved by not bidding on a lunch, I spent the rest of the day in the clink. Somehow I doubt they threatened us with the penalty of jail for not buying a lunch beforehand… probably didn’t occur to them that it could be a problem until I pulled my little stunt.
No regrets. Mom wasn’t too happy that I’d “deceived” her in such a way, however, haha. 25 years later and this memory amuses me more than ever.