The other night, I was talking with Tanner about how musicians like Keith Fullerton Whitman and Tetsu Inoue can get by using only a couple of notes because they’re the right notes. This invariably led to Tanner talking about the right notes on that big bone organ in The Goonies. (the human mind works in strange and mysterious ways. -ed) Now, whenever The Goonies is mentioned, I think of one thing and one thing only: The Truffle Shuffle. Beyond the obvious artistic merits of the Shuffle, I ponder a specific memory that not only haunts me to this day, but also sabotaged Richford Jr.-Sr. High School’s Freshmen Initiation…forever. The story I relayed that night disgusted and disturbed (delighted?) Tanner to the point that he fervently suggested I blog it. So I will do this thing he asks.
When I was but a boy, attending the aforementioned hallowed halcyon of learning on the hill, there was a yearly tradition that delighted Richford folk young and old: Freshmen Initiation. And I’m not talking about typical hijinx a la Parker Posey in Dazed and Confused either. Oh no. This was actually sanctioned by school administrators, teachers, and even (most of) the parents of the participants.
Every year, each graduating senior was allowed to choose a member of the freshmen class to essentially torture and traumatize for a day. My designated senior, bless her heart, decided that I would crawl on my hands and knees throughout the hallways and kiss the feet of any senior passerby. But that’s not where it ended. During the last two periods of the day, the students were dismissed from classes, and everyone from the town was invited to pile into the gymnasium. Each freshman would then go out the middle of the floor to perform a skit.
These skits ranged in their levels of inappropriateness, from forcing students to eat whole raw onions or pies made with spoiled whipped cream, to dressing the class’s closeted lesbian up as the androgynous Pat from SNL. One of my classmates was outfitted in a slinky teddy and sent out to lip synch “Like a Virgin.” Even the mildly retarded girl in my class wasn’t spared! The two that really sealed the demise of the ritual, however, involved me and my best friend, Mike, and an extremely overweight individual, respectively.
Mike and I were dressed in nothing but adult diapers and boxer shorts, which were tucked up under the diapers. We were then instructed to ride Hot Wheels out to the middle of the floor, lament about our bladder issues and infant-like cognition, and then sing the Pull-Ups jingle. Right about the time I had to show that “I can pull them off and on,” you can guess where this is going, I hooked my thumbs in one waistband too many and pulled everything down. So yeah, basically the entire town of Richford saw my butt and wang.
And that’s not even as bad as it got! Remember the Truffle Shuffle? Well, again, I’d imagine you can tell what I’m going to say next. Yup, the quiet, shy, overweight boy was made to take off his shirt, stand in front of hundreds of townspeople, and shake his torso until the whole place erupted in laughter. Nice, huh? Needless to say, the administration (with some heavy urging from my father, who was the chair of the English department) finally decided that maybe it wasn’t OK to send droves of kids home crying and humiliated. Ya think?
So that is my story. I don’t know what’s more alarming: That it ever happened in the first place, or that we all thought it was completely normal. Don’t ever go to Richford, people.