Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bribed By Dancing

The cashier looked at the two teenagers in horror. She’d just scanned two full shopping carts of products and the total amount on the register was almost 100 gulden. And apparently, the two girls that were doing the shopping were planning to pay in coins. Small change, collected in two large, heavy bags. The people in the line behind the teens were growing restless, but there was nothing they, or she, could do to speed things up. With a big sigh, the cashier bowed to the inevitable and started counting the coins.

Perhaps you are wondering what the above scene has to do with dancing, since that is the topic of this edition of the COG. Perhaps it will make more sense if you know that one of the teenagers was me, roughly ten years ago, and the reason for the whole scene was dancing. You see, I love dancing, I really do, but I rarely get a chance to do so. So when in my second year of high school my home room teacher asked for two volunteers to arrange a dance feast, guess who signed up with her best friend? Yes, that would be me.

Luckily, there really wasn’t much work involved. Our school had several great amenities that most schools don’t. We had our own gym, our own theater with seating for about 60 people, and our very own disco. The disco was generally used as an overflow-cafeteria. There were several vending machines there, a bar, and two niches with inbuilt seating and a table. There were also several loose bar-like tables. The entire thing was done in red and black. So, location wasn’t a problem.

Music and lights weren’t a problem either; there was a special commission that took care of that. So the only thing we really had to do was buy snacks and drinks. And boy, did we make a nuisance of ourselves while doing that. Still, until this day, I honestly claim that it was not our fault!

In order to pay for the drinks and snacks, tickets were sold to all those who wanted to come. Our class was organizing it together with another class, and between the two classes there were about 50 people coming. A ticket cost something around 3 gulden, I believe, and most paid in small coins. Think 25 cent coins, 10 cent coins, 5 cent coins, and occasionally 1 gulden coins. So, when my friend J. and I went to the supermarket the day before the feast, we had two bags full of coins.

Once we were at the local supermarket, the snacks were taken care of pretty quickly and actually filled an entire cart. We weren’t too worried we’d gotten too much, after all, 50 hungry teenagers can eat through much more than what we had gathered. It was mainly chips anyway, and the bags contain much less than the size they actually are. However, when we had to decide on the soda, we came upon a problem. Neither one of us had ever shopped for so much people and we were uncertain how many bottles we should get. We decided that it was better to have too much to drink than not enough, but that left the problem of maybe being stuck with a dozen or more unopened bottles.

This was about the time that I came up with a brilliant plan that might’ve aggravated the manager of the store. I decided that we should ask the manager if we could return any unopened bottles, so I had someone fetch him. To say he was not happy that two teenage girls were trying to get him to agree to their unconventional plan is probably the understatement of the decade. Eventually though, he agreed. So, J and I filled a second cart with soda and some fruit juice and then made our way to the check-out.

The horror scene described at the beginning of this post became reality there. I have never seen a cashier so horrified in my life and the people behind us in line weren’t exactly happy either. Still, J. and I had great fun!

The party turned out great, with lots of dancing. We did indeed have about 5 unopened bottles of soda left, which were returned the next day. This whole episode would never have come about if I hadn’t been promised dancing. The worst part? I was taken in by the same promise not two years later! Also, the left-over money from this little shopping trip precipitated an event that nearly destroyed my friendship with J. But, that are stories for another time….


  1. Oh my gosh, JM! I'm laughing so hard my face hurts! What a terrific story... one only teenagers could pull off. I love it!

  2. I must admit, I had great fun reliving this memory. I'll probably post the other two stories that I mentioned in the post sometime this week and then link to them. One's just as much fun, the other is more serious.

  3. It sounds like you girls had a lot of fun! Great post!

  4. We will be waiting to read the rest!

  5. Loved this story. Reminded me of times when my cousins and I would collect pop bottles for money for the movies --- paying for the theater in nickels always brought consternation to those behind us.

    Great story and well written. Thanks.

  6. I so enjoyed this story and am anxiously awaiting the other stories as well.

  7. Teenage ingenuity at it's best! Can't wait for the next installments. BTW--my VanGilder's were from somewhere in the Netherlands. I intend to follow your blog.