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"Hangin' at the Mascot"



By Tom Kender
 

As in many parts of the world, we had our own caste system at the Mascot, a revered institution for snacking, eating lunch, smoking and the most important of all, socializing. Occasionally it would be the arena for settling arguments as in "I'll whip your butt at the Mascot, right after school to settle this".

Naturally, seniors ruled the entire area, the juniors waiting in line to rise to their seat in power remained subservient yet an occasional stag would challenge for superiority. The sophomores, fresh from their rise from the lowest of lows would wander aimlessly in search of their rank. And the poor freshmen, who through no fault of their own other than being the designated brunt of all jokes would look with forlorn eyes hoping to be recognized even if it meant ridicule. Nothing was ever brutal....but everyone had their place.

The highest honor of all belonged to whomever had secured a table within the walls of the tiny clapboard building. French fries always seemed to be the meal of the day...everyday. Lord help you if you took your eyes off of your plate for even a second as everyone would devour your meal like starving buzzards on a deer carcass.
The Mascot was either packed to capacity and then some, or it was closed. I doubt the fire codes were being adhered to and I know the health codes ......well, I'll allow you to imagine if it was even inspected.

But it was our place to escape, even if for only a short time at lunch to catch up on the news of the day, have a smoke or gulp down a coke and fries.

After school was over for the day, crowds would mingle for awhile, sometimes waiting to catch a ride with the lucky individual who had their own car. A little shoving and pushing and "guy" things would happen when the testosterone levels were at their highest. Dates would be made for the weekend.
And then we would begin to peel away like layers of an onion as we either went to work at after-school jobs, or made our way to the practice fields, or contemplated the long walk home or simply stood outside until the last person left, afraid that something might be missed that would be the topic of the following day's discussion.
A few of use began a routine of going to Dave Todd's house which was just around the block and slugging down a few more cokes and discussing even further the events that had happened and who was dating who and did someone say if they liked me or not......Oh yes girls, we guys did the same thing too!
I guess this has now been replaced by texting and twittering. Each individual in their own singular world chatting back and forth without the pleasure of someone knocking the books out of your arms or giving you a wedgee while your hands balanced your coke and fries........Man, those were the days....not the wedgees....the Mascot!