Friday, May 16, 2008

Field Trip, part three

Start with parts one and two before reading this:

Even though we now had our bearings (and I put myself in charge of keeping the map right-side up), we still had to hustle to the Opera House; it was a bit over a mile away.

Now I don't remember whose idea it was; I know it wasn't mine. If it was, I'd cop to it. At any rate, somehow we decided that, having passed the skrillionth vending machine with the aforementioned scantily clad women, maybe we should, you know, get a souvenir.

We hadn't planned far enough ahead to figure out what we'd do with it after the field trip, but we were living in the moment. It felt like we were on an A-Team mission or something.

So when we passed the net bank of machines, we slowed down to see how much this anatomy lesson would cost. It wasn't cheap, that's for sure. It was at least $3, possibly more. While Mike balked at spending so much money on something we weren't supposed to be in possession of, everyone else, me included, ponied up.

Once we had enough money, the question then became, who was going to actually buy the thing? After much hemming and hawing on our part, claiming old war injuries and other excuses, we voted Dwight to be our designated consumer. This was mostly because he chastised us for being wusses.

"Oh for God's sake, just give me the money. It'll take like one whole minute," Dwight said, feeding the coins into the machine. However, we missed anything he said after that because we saw a cop car approaching. The rest of us crossed the street, leaving Dwight holding onto the handle of the vending machine. He already had half the money in, and since he put in the most money, he wasn't about to say goodbye to it.

He fed the rest of the money in as fast as he could, ignoring the honking from people driving by him, grabbed the paper, folded it under his arm and joined us on the other side of the street. If the police officer had seen him, he didn't think it was worth stopping for.

"Thanks a lot, assholes," Dwight said, his cheeks flushed either from running or from embarrassment.

"There was a cop," I explained.

"Like he cares. I could have been buying the Chronicle for all he knows."

"Well, I didn't want to get caught," Mike said.

Dwight was already not paying attention. He was trying to get a peek at the inside of the paper to see if the girls were unobscured by stars and bars. Possibly unpatriotic, I suppose, but you can't argue with puberty.

Alas, every time he almost got it folded open, some old lady would approach, and he'd close it back up again.

"This is no good," Dwight said. "We'll have to look at it later."

"Mike, why don't you put it in your jacket?" Jim suggested. A good plan; Mike was the tallest, so he had the most room to stash something in his jacket.

"What if someone finds it?"

"I don't think they frisk kids going into the ballet," Jim said.

"Come on, Mike," Ryan said a little forcefully for a sixth-grader. We all looked at him for a second and then looked back at Mike.

"You didn't even put in any money," I said. "You could at least hold it. Who's going to think you're holding anything in your jacket?"

He reluctantly agreed, rolled it up as tight as he could and tucked it in his jacket, which he then zipped up. We resumed our formation: Dwight, Mike and Jim up front, me in the Chewbacca position, and Chad bringing up the rear.

Going the right way had an amazing effect on our travel time; in fact, we got to the Opera House in practically no time. However, we didn't celebrate just yet because we noticed one minor detail.

No one was there to meet us. No teachers, no parents, no kids, no one at all. This was not a good sign.

How much longer can I stretch this out? Would you believe one more day?

Will we get home from San Francisco? Will our contraband get discovered? What is the event that causes controversy among our group?

Come back for the thrilling conclusion!