Holding white paper bags in hand, they line the chain-link fence like inmates in the yard. Reaching into their bags, they grab handfuls of freshly-popped, movie-style popcorn, stuffing and shoveling it into their mouths. Hands move quickly, eagerly. Pieces of popcorn escape, littering the ground, sure to delight flocks of crows, but not janitors, over the weekend. Like a hot dog eating contest gone haywire, these third graders consume popcorn at what appears to be record speeds, all so they can hurry and join friends on the playground for Friday afternoon recess.
It is Popcorn Friday.
A couple times a month our elementary school’s PTA puts on the highly-popular Popcorn Friday. Kids bring 25 cents for a bag of fresh popcorn that they get to eat after lunch, but before recess, along the fence that lines the playground.
I witness firsthand the mayhem that ensues as students try to eat their popcorn fast so they can go about the business of playing.
I don’t know if it’s like this every time, or if the weekend’s upcoming full moon puts a particularly wild spin on the events. But never before have I seen so much popcorn consumed so fast.
Perhaps the phenomenon of T.G.I.F isn’t one that’s limited to the workplace.
Maybe it starts for elementary school kids on Popcorn Friday.
I help a friend clean up a bit and count some quarters. One perk: I take a few extra bags home. Later, my 9-year-old sits on the couch, slowly and leisurely eating popcorn as he reads a book.
No stuffing. No shoveling. Just savoring.
The feeling is universal.