September 24, 2010

Oink! Oink! Oink!

In the sixth grade, our teachers got the bright idea to change the class trip from a visit to an awesome city, to a trek out into the backwoods of central Florida. We were all pretty bummed when we learned that we were going to stay at some rustic hippie conservationist camp that barely passed the state health inspection test.

I can only imagine what the conservative parents of our private prep school thought about having their kids brainwashed in some bog-swamp cult camp with radical ideas about recycling, chemical free soap, free-trade coffee, and the benefits of a bartering system. I doubt it went over well, considering some of the experiences I'd had interacting with my classmates' parents in their homes.

Despite the complaints, into the woods we went! We learned how to use a compass. We learned how to identify indigenous flora and fauna. We learned that our parents' money came from the devil who disguises himself as capitalism. It was really something.

The most interesting part of each day always came around meal time. They served us cafeteria style camp slop with a side of conservationist berating. What bothered us wasn't so much the guilt ridden lessons about wasting food. It was really their delivery. The first night, after we had all gone through the cafeteria line, selected our food, and finished eating, the staff asked us all to scrape everything we hadn't finished off our plates into a bucket that sat next to a scale. We immediately knew this wouldn't be good.

They pulled up a poor, unsuspecting sixth-grader from a table near the front, and before she could fully process what was happening, they put big glasses and a pig snout on her face, as well as a curly tail around her waist. Then they began singing.

I'll never forget that tune: Pig, pig, pig, pigetty, OINK! OINK! OINK! To this day, as I am doing chores, grocery shopping, or driving in the car, I'll realize this tune is looping through my head.

At each meal, they continued this fulmination, selecting a new victim to harangue. Then, they would weigh our waste and encourage us to get the weight down more and more each meal. Apparently, public humiliation worked, because the bucket of slop got lighter and lighter. They kept pumping us up for our final dinner weigh-in, going on and on about how low it was going to be.

Each meal, it went over a little worse with us than it had the meal before. Our waste weight may have been lessening, but so was our patience.

Finally, by the last night, we decided to band together. Word spread throughout the cafeteria to take as much food as possible and to eat as little of it as we could. We scraped our plates into the bucket. Finally the staff leader excitedly headed to the front to weigh the uneaten food. "This is going to be our least wasteful meal yet! You all are on the road to being conscious of the environment! Let's see how we did!" She went to lift the bucket.

We had wasted more food than ever before. It was a mammoth amount. Her face fell as we all began chanting, "Pig! Pig! Pig! Pigetty! OINK! OINK! OINK!"

It may have felt like a victory, but really, in this scenario, everyone loses.
Except me, of course, because I got to blog about it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have to be honest, not my fav. It feels off, as if you had a ghostrider. Some Nicholas Cage figure come in and take over your body with lame superpowers (except for the flaming bike). As one great man once said, you have "become weathered over the years." I suggest a writer's retreat, where the counselors chant, "stein, stein, stein." and you have bohemian parties all afternoon.