One of my oldest friends is getting married this fall. We’ve been friends since freshman year of high school, which was… twenty years ago and now I need to sit down. Yikes. At any rate, she came over today and the conversation naturally turned to wedding etiquette, as it does so often with anyone involved in planning a wedding. The combination of high school and wedding etiquette reminded me of an incident that happened about… hey! Twenty years ago!
This incident took place at the end-of-year high school choir* banquet, where “banquet” means “crappy food served in the school cafeteria.” The choir members and our long-suffering parents were scattered around the cafeteria in groups of eight to ten, just like at a wedding. There were probably a total of twelve or so tables. As the event was winding down, the choir director got on the microphone and said we were going to play a game. “One person at every table should take out a dollar,” he said.
“Oh, I’ve played this game before,” I thought. “We pass around the dollar, and then whoever is left holding it when the music stops wins the centerpiece.” I don’t actually recall any centerpieces, but my fourteen-year-old self seemed to think there was nothing amiss. A grumbling representative from every table took out a dollar bill.
“Pass it around till the music stops,” said the choir director, and hit “play” on the tape player. Or possibly the CD player; maybe we were fancy. The music stopped at last, and the person left holding the dollar was instructed to hold it up in the air while someone from the choir boosters went around the room.
Perhaps you think the choir booster gave each person holding the dollar a box of leftover “banquet” food. Or maybe you think the dollar-holder really did win the hypothetical centerpiece. Whatever scenario you’re imagining, it probably ends with the banquet attendee getting a prize of some kind, however weak and undesirable a prize it was. And so it is with astonishment equal to the astonishment of those in attendance that you will learn that the choir booster went around to every table and took the dollar. She TOOK the DOLLAR. The dollars were then “donated” to the choir booster fund while we choir members and our parents sat, too dumbfounded to protest.
Thus it was that the choir director and the choir boosters managed to raise twelve whole dollars while alienating their entire support group to the point that I, twenty years later, can still remember where in the cafeteria I was sitting when they stole our money.**
This was the only year they ran that particular fundraiser. Can’t imagine why.
*I was also in the band. Bass drum, then tuba, then drum major. I was on yearbook staff, too, and in school musicals. I’m not saying I was good in the school musicals, I’m just saying I was a huge nerd. But a happy one! I kind of wish I was rehearsing for a musical right now! I wonder if there’s a community theater around here…
**On the left side, about three tables back from the entrance.