Acquired: 1999 (play the slideshow or click through to read my high school principal’s attempts to sooth worried parents.)
In the spring of 1999, high school kids all over the country were uneasy in the wake of the Columbine shootings. Rumors of imminent violence were rampant at my high school. Some students were more on edge than others; at least one kid scurried under his desk when a mohawked friend of mine walked into class wearing a trench coat. The anxiety was pervasive enough that bomb threat pranks (mostly ignored before the tragedy in Colorado) were now being “taken very seriously” by the school administration.
Beginning in April and continuing through final exams in June, the start of our school day was delayed at least once a month after a threatening phone call or, once, a note taped to the school’s main entrance.
The administration usually managed to corral most of the student body onto the tennis courts, containing the teeming masses of mildly freaked out but mostly amused adolescents behind the tall chain link fence while bomb sniffing dogs canvassed the school for signs of an explosive. I was almost always wily enough to get the hell off campus before being herded into the containment zone.
Bomb threats usually meant a de facto excused absence, so I’d spend the day truant; roaming the mall or raiding someone’s dad’s liquor cabinet. In May, in one of the nerdiest displays of teenage rebellion ever, some friends and I escaped to the movie theater to catch a morning showing of The Phantom Menace.
No bombs were ever found.
Thrown away: 2011.
Hoarded for: Nearly 12 years.
Pain at loss: Almost none. Digitizing bits of paper makes getting rid of them easier. I’m also beginning to I think that I kept a lot of this stuff out of habit rather than true sentimental attachment.