It All Happens At The Flagpole
“I’ll meet you at the flag pole.” These were the infamous words associated with every fight at my elementary school; fights that almost never happened.
This had more to do with typical childhood forgetfulness than cowardice. When the final bell rang, all anybody could think about was candy and playing. We had no time for fighting when school had already robbed our day of precious playtime. This didn’t stop us from throwing around those words as if there were some actual weight behind them, though. What better place than the base of the gleaming steal to prove ones firmness. I can still picture it in my mind; the thought of me standing triumphant over my fallen foe, Old Glory waving steadily to the roar of my congratulatory schoolmates, the girls looking on, wanting only me despite that fact that it was Matt Kennard who won the boys foot race in co-ed PE. (Dang that Neil Kennard!) Perhaps every boy had this very thought, which would explain the popularity of making the flagpole the designated fight location.
In fact the flagpole was the designated location for almost every activity: kissing, fighting, counting (for hide-n-go-seek), daring. There were many dares made and accepted at the base of the flagpole. That same Neil Kennard would eat absolutely anything, if he were dared first, of course… I mean, the boy had standards. And, if the dare didn’t have something to do with eating gross crap it probably had something to do with girls. Those girls, with whom, not three years ago, we had been taking baths with as neighborhood pals, had now, in a very short span of time become such a mystery, that when around them, we turned into even bigger idiots, and that’s sayin’ somethin’ when talking about seven year old boys.
As a young kid, life is all about schedules and routines; bedtime, bath time, mealtime, nap time. Our parents and teachers all worked very hard at creating and maintaining these rituals, so as to regulate evenly tempered children. But, to this day, one of the most influential rituals of my early years was flagpole time.