A couple of generations ago, a few boys at Madison Junior High School (grades 7-9 at the time) in Abilene, Texas, started selling cinnamon oil soaked toothpicks for a nickel apiece. Pretty soon boys were walking around school gingerly holding a toothpick between gritted teeth in an effort to look cool and taking great efforts to avoid burning their lips, which met with little success.
This activity--remember now this is 1969 and rebellious activity of any type and degree was severely frowned upon--set off alarms with school officials who then banned selling and possessing these toothpicks. The consequence of that decision made a fad that was sure to pass quickly--it was impractical and uncomfortable to hold a fireball in your teeth without touching your lips--and turned it into an illicit activity which enhanced its cool factor.
Exchanges of foil wrapped toothpicks and nickels were hidden in plain sight. A handshake, a food trade at lunch, an item left on the bench, getting change for a quarter from someone; there was no limit to the creativity of those engaged in the illegal activity of selling and possessing cinnamon toothpicks. These were heady times for a 12-year-old Catholic boy in Southern Baptist Abilene. Absolutely intoxicating, figuratively speaking.
Times have changed but how school authorities react to certain things haven't. In this case, a young girl was providing peppermint oil to her classmates for free.
Sara Greiner, 10, a fifth-grade student at John Mandracchia-Sawmill Intermediate School, was suspended for one day after bringing organic peppermint oil to school and putting several drops in her water bottle and several classmates’ water, said her mother, Corrine Morton-Greiner, 46.
The Commack School District posted a news release on its Web site saying a student was suspended for "bringing, and then distributing bottled peppermint oil to other students."
"Peppermint oil is an unregulated over-the-counter drug," the release reads.
And she wasn't trying to be cool or rebellious.