Monday, January 4, 2010

Just Say, "No"

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.


Lucas said...

Growing up in Texas I remember cinnamon toothpicks very vividly. I liked them so much that when I started drinking we came up with a drink called a cinnamon toothpick. If you are interested you just mix a 1:1 ratio of cinnamon schnapps to Crown Royal. We made them in shot glasses. Good times, good times.

The level of hysteria in schools today is utterly ridiculous.

Spokane Al said...

I grew up in Seattle and when I was in junior high school (mid 1960s - graduated from high school in 1968) we were huge users of those toothpicks (this definitely dates me).

So while your story had another purpose, it definitely brought back memories for me.

Autumn said...

That's almost as dumb as the brother and sister that got suspended here for exchanging a quick hug and kiss in the lunch room. (Apparently it doesnt matter that it's your sibling, no PDA allowed) :|

Anonymous said...

Damn, if the kids are willing to hold their behavior to kissing their sisters, drinking pepperimint water, and inserting nothing but cinnamon toothpicks into their mouths...would that be so bad?

I think the terrorists may have already won.

Hank Greer said...

I had no idea the cinnamon toothpick was a nationwide scourge.

Autumn said...

It's not just nationwide lol it's generationwide too (yes I know that's not really a word, I'm blanking on the proper term) I'm 26 and cinnamon tooth picks were big at my school too, kind of "redneck" but most kids loved them, even though they were outlawed because they had potential to be dangerous. Lol