Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Social Experiments

A few weeks ago I wrote a tribute to my dear friend Tina. In it, I included some memories that I had of our time together.

Later in the week, she and I were talking on the phone and she reminded me of some of of the "social experiments" that we conducted during high school. I wanted to relate at least a couple of them here.

My favorite was the quarter trick. We would go to our local mall and while there, we would super glue a quarter to the floor. We would then hide in the really awesome sunken seating area that they had there and watch people as they would come across a quarter on the floor and try to pick it up. The level of laughter no doubt gave us away within seconds of each attempt, but really, we were able to see first-hand how people reacted to losing 25¢. I was impressed that nearly all of them responded with a smile and sometimes even a laugh. It's always nice to know that people can laugh at themselves. (And as a note, yes, I have shared this with my kids and I feel confident that they will carry on this legacy when they get older.) (Oh, and my apologies to the custodial staff of Clearview Mall that had to pry up probably half a dozen quarters over my high school and college years. I know that had to suck.)

The second was one that I had completely forgotten until my conversation with Tina. And this is another piece in the puzzle of me, to be sure.

In high school, I was always a part of the band. One of the best parts of being in the band was our annual trip to Kennywood Park. It was the culmination of band camp and was always a blast.

While we were there, a group of us (it varied in size over the years, but I would say there were always at least four of us) would always walk over to the near-by Pizza Hut for lunch. I'm not sure what compelled us to leave the park, but we did it once and it became a regular tradition.

Our trips to that Pizza Hut resulted in another tradition though. On our first trip there, we went to visit the juke box. It was a pretty normal group of songs, but it did include one that struck us as a little strange. Along side Surfin' Bird and Hey Mickey was The Star Spangled Banner. We found that really entertaining and immediately plugged our quarters into the machine so we could hear it.

We waited and waited for the song to come on, and it did, just as we were leaving. As we looked back over our shoulders, we saw no one rising in honor of our national anthem. I wonder if things would be the same now.

I'm sure there were other attempts (no doubt Flee Ball was a grand social experiment!), but those are some of my favorites and some of our most deliberate attempts.

What goofy things did you do as a kid (or as an adult) to elicit a reaction from others? Were you ever the unwitting participant in another person's social experiment?

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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
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