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Monday, February 20, 2012

The Bomb Shelter Game


Back in 1967 when I was a junior in high school, Mr. Farrington, our social studies teacher, came up with an interesting idea that made us all stop thinking about our raging hormones to focus on something nearly as important—survival. The Soviet Union hadn’t crumbled yet and nuclear annihilation remained a distinct possibility, so engaging in a life and death struggle for survival, even if it was only a game, was far more interesting than the usual drivel we were exposed to in class. The game revolved around an imaginary bomb shelter. Pretend bombs were on their way from Russia and we got to decide which of our classmates got to live or die.


This was long before reality TV where pampered people get voted off an island. We all took the game seriously, but this wasn’t supposed to be a popularity contest; we each randomly selected an occupation and part of our grade (yes, we were graded on this) depended on just how well we defended the importance of our occupation in the new society we would be creating.


Some of the occupations randomly selected were doctors, electricians, carpenters, engineers, nurses and other vocations easy to defend. I mean really; how difficult would it be to convince your fellow classmates that a doctor would be useful once the doors of the bomb shelter swung open? And it would be nice to have people around who could build and repair things. The poor kid stuck with being a lawyer was screwed but the girl who was a botanist gained admittance after convincing everyone that she could teach survivors how to grow edible food and determine which ones had been poisoned by radiation.


I was stuck with an occupation difficult to defend—artist. Unlike other students who got to select randomly, Mr. Farrington chose this profession for me for, what I assume, were two reasons: one, I was the star of our high school’s Art Department; two, I was a well-known chatterbox and he must have figured I could pull off defending such a questionable occupation. At the time I didn’t think this fair, but learning that life isn’t fair is an important part of any education.


The game neared conclusion with only two students remaining to compete for the last place in the shelter. I had to contend with Jill Stanton. I went first. I rose from my desk and stood before the class to deliver a presentation on why I should be selected for survival.


I was brilliant as I defended the importance of art, building a rhythmic speech that resonated with passion and ended with, “When the bomb shelter doors open we will set about creating a new world to replace the old, but why bother? Just to survive? We need a reason to survive, something larger than ourselves, something to address our descendants to let them know what we thought and felt during this difficult time. Art is our connection to the divine, a manifestation of our indomitable spirit. Our brave new world will be a cold and heartless place without art! So select me!”


I sat down to thunderous applause. Mr. Farrington’s grin suggested that I’d pulled it off. But one hurdle remained—Jill Stanton.


She stood up and pulled at the snug sweater I’d never seen her wear before. I’d never noticed that she had breasts. And nice ones, not that I’d seen any yet. She took her time sashaying to the front of the class, where she delivered a speech of only seven words.


Without bothering to give her name or explain what her profession was, she said, “I’m young. I’m hot. And I’m fertile.” With that she slowly walked back to her seat.


It was my misfortune that there were double the number of boys in my class than girls. When the imaginary bombs came I was stuck outside the bomb shelter screaming, “Let me in...”

27 comments:

  1. hahahahahaha!!!!!!

    THAT is PERFECTION!

    You were lucky. I went to Catholic school in the 60's. All we ever did in preparation was leap under our desks when the buzzer sounded. Because everyone knows.....a nuke bomb can't get you there! ;)

    Have a creative day!
    Mimi
    Collage Pirate

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  2. Well heck yeah! I would have voted for her, too. I mean you're a nice guy and all that, but she's hot, and you're just a Chubby Chatterbox. :)

    S

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  3. Oh, this made me howl with laughter! What a wonderful story! So sorry, though, you were left outside the bomb shelter...

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  4. I too would have voted for a hot chick over a male artist. I mean come on, cavemen created all those paintings on cave walls so it's not like art is that hard. Finding a fertile hot chick in the apocalyptic wasteland would be much harder.

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  5. Hope you got an A for the presentation anyhow.

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  6. I've been laughing for a while now! Brilliant! Do you happen to know what happened to her?

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  7. Bwahahahahahaha. Sex sells. Always.

    Have a terrific day. :)

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  8. LOL - I love Jill! But I would have voted for you of course :)

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  9. My parents had a bomb shelter in their home. It's so weird thinking about it now.

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  10. That is hilarious! lol what a clever girl she was!

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  11. Well, she had an unfair advantage. Though to your credit, I'm sure you were just as young and fertile. A marketing concept which may have discombobulated the majority of your audience.

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  12. LOL! And danggit, boobs over brains... wins. every. single. time.

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  13. I wish I would have thought about young, hot and fertile classmates when we were practicing our duck and cover drill. I was never convinced the flimsy desk would sustain the immense rush of wind and flame we saw depicted in the film strips. My occasional nightmare could have been a better dream if one of our mates would have had the panache of your Jill Stanton.

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  14. Well there are bombs and then there are bombshells.....

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  15. And this is why funding for the arts is always the first to go... As a public speaking instructor I'd probably be keeping you company on the outside. But nice speech, by the way!

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  16. Well now, how unfair is that? Hysterical, yes, but still unfair. There isn't a way you could have won given the raging hormones in those horny classmates of yours. Granted, Jill had the advantage over the vote but the reality is in the real world event of surviving that bomb shelter, you had something she would have needed to repopulate the world. (or at least some male's "something")

    I applaud Jill's clever ploy. I suspect her timing was good as well because young, hot and fertile has an expiration date attached.

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  17. Hilarious stuff. Yup, you can't beat young, hot, and fertile.

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  18. You told this well and with humor, but I confess that I've never been comfortable with that practice of asking school children to decide who is worthy to live and who must die. It seems to teach them that life has no intrinsic value but only that value attributed to arbitrarily defined worthiness.

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  19. AAh, such a spectacular post, Stephen. I'd love to follow your blog, I actually add myself to the follow tool to all the sites I ever go to as a courtesy then I keep a comprehensive list of the ones I actually READ in my bookmarks bar. LOL. Thanks for the invite, I'd love to chat about art, I'm trying to get more art centered posts up on my blog in the near future because I decided to try syndication for a month on The blog Farm. Have you felt it helped your blog? John was a little concerned with my recent posts but I assured him it was an anomoly born out of being both sick and having two huge art projects due so I posted stuff that was easy, like about the new linky follower tool that everyone is using to replace the google friend connect gadget that's being dropped by google for everyone by the end of the year. I don't think John likes posts like that, lol. I think everything I write is meant to inform but I guess it's personal opinion. Anyway, sure hope I see a difference in readership!
    Consider yourself officially both followed and added to my "to read" list, hey, a new bloggy friend, love those!
    Best,
    jenn

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  20. Oh, I guess I should have said I'm from JustAddWaterSilly.com, silly wabbit!
    Hehehe.
    Jenn, again.

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  21. LOL
    You write so well :)
    Have a good day.
    and don't forget to follow my blog.

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  22. Love your posts. Is that the same Jill Stanton who runs the world's most successful marketing campaigns now she has grown up? (only kidding. But that kind of creative thinking makes me think of the little 8 year old kid I know who was diagnosed as diabetic and has to have injections every day. He realised he could charge his friends money to do the injections, a small but useful income. You just know some people will go far)

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  23. Totally Brilliant. A wonderful reminiscence. We all believed in the evil empire in those days.. it was only later everyone realised that no one wins an nuclear war.

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  24. Stephen, I am so glad you discovered my blog on this site, because I might never have found you and your humor. I think I like it cause I could imagine myself writing it. The scary part is that I do have some posts in my head that I snicker about, but don't dare write! LOL! You crack me up and I look forward to your posts. This one is exceptional. When I was in grammer school, we used to have to practice diving under our desks because the Russians could be sending an atom bomb our way any minute. Like those flimsy little desks would protect us. Hel-Lo!!! Laurel

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  25. LOL! Perfect! New follower. Coming from your link on Best Posts of the Week. :)

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