Allen Hill
The Lunch Room Story

Dear M.D.,

Not only are you the greatest high school reunion organizer in history for your work at Indian Springs, you are now going to top even that accomplishment by attempting to reassemble an even more distantly connected crowd!

My gawd, grammar school!!

Before I commit to attending the reunion, I have a confession to make to all of my former classmates. It may make me persona non grata, but I have to clear my conscience of the guilt I have carried lo these many years.

In the year of our Lord MCMLIII, in the 6th grade class taught by Ms. Nabors (Neighbors?), about half of the students were suspended for participating in a prank which, by today's standards, would be considered trifling. But in the mid twentieth century, it was a serious matter. The caper called for all those in the lunchroom to cough simultaneously at exactly noon, as the wall clock's second hand touched the 12. The resulting noise was as loud and surprising as a gunshot, and even the hooligans who had participated in this disruptive behavior were amazed and shocked! Ms. Nabors became livid and leaped to her feet, her face ashen white in strong contrast to the deep-red of her pursed, painted lips and managed to stammeringly demand that we follow her outstretched finger back to our classroom. Remaining to finish one's lunch was not an option.

Ms. Haynes was summoned and the two educators demanded that those who had coughed confess by a show of hands. I'd say half the trembling class raised theirs, tears of fear running down many a cheek. I did not raise my hand for I had, indeed, not coughed. Had I lied and said that I had coughed just so that I could be accepted as one of the crowd did not meet the high standards of individualism we had been taught at Mtn. Brook Grammar School.

Ms. Haynes then demanded to know whose idea this tomfoolery had been. Someone, I know not who for time has erased that from my memory, volunteered that I was the instigator. I denied it vehemently, naturally. The coughers were then suspended. I was not. And the ring leader was never fingered. Nice pun, eh?

Well, you little squealer, whoever you are, indeed it was I who hatched the plan, wrote the note and passed it around asking that everyone cough. After all these years, however, I forgive you for ratting.

Wow! What a load off of my shoulders. I've carried this secret for 51 long years.

M.D., do you think we could do that coughing thing again at the reunion? If we do, I'll come.


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