How To Survive a High School Lock-In
I went to a high school lock-in with the church recently.
You know, a lock-in, an event where you’re locked in overnight in a place with ping pong and pizza—and high schoolers. I was one of the adults there to help everyone have a good time and maintain some semblance of order. I like these young people a lot, but I also like my bedtime, so I was both looking forward to and dreading the experience.
I got settled in and for the first hour, things went pretty quickly. “Wow, this won’t be bad,” I said as I did the math. “9 PM to 7 AM...that’s 10 hours total, and one hour is already gone. Hey, that’s 10%. I might live through this!” Then I thought, “Wait, this is even better. I’ll probably go to sleep around 4 AM, and so I really only have six hours to go. [Calculate.] I’m actually 14% through this! And next hour will make it 28%!” I was upbeat and enjoying myself.
Second hour. I played one-on-one basketball with a kid on the high school team. He had 6 inches on me and actually knew how to play, but I had 40 years of worldly wisdom on him. And besides, he had a hurt toe. I was terrified he’d ask for a rematch after I prevailed in an overtime thriller. I glanced at my phone—it was 11 PM—and thought, “Ok, 28%. What’s next?”
About an hour later I again checked my phone so I could celebrate making it to 42%, which is over 80% of the way to being halfway. (I like math.) But one quick glance brought me to my knees. I swore I made a mistake, so I snapped my neck and looked again. It was somehow only 11:15 PM!
Horrified, I began checking my arithmetic: 15 minutes is only 1/4 of an hour, but it seemed like a full hour, so that meant my remaining 4 3/4 hours would go by at a rate of ... 16 plus the result of 12 divided by 4 hours ... that’s 19 hours! I still had almost a whole day to go!
Panic threatened to overwhelm me as it was now officially way past my bedtime, and my honor was at stake in a game of 8-ball ... then 9-ball … then shufflepuck ... There was also a game of Mafia in there, somewhere. I mostly just sat there and did nothing, but people told me I was actually a part of the game. I switched to sport mode.
About 1 AM (the following Tuesday to the rest of the world), my unsuspecting intermittent fasting regimen was ruthlessly attacked by slice after stale slice of microwaved fast-food pizza. The onslaught was horrific. With no will power to fend off the savage horde, one slice after another overran my hapless digestive system and laughed while making ruins of my cellular autophagy.
Then things got interesting. I sat down with a group and just listened in as they talked about nothing and everything. And slowly, as the fatigue waxed and the inhibitions waned, talk turned to crushes, blue-eyed obsessions, the nightmare that is the skinny jean, how parents met, and who Snaps who, and what was the name of that thing you eat that is juicy until you take all the juice out and its not juicy anymore (no, no, not a pickle, it's like a grape … you know ... that other thing) ... the room was spinning ...
I woke up at 6:30 AM under an air hockey table.
Like a time-traveler who had spent years exploring alien worlds, I had been flung through the wormhole to land again on my home planet, only to discover that I had in fact been gone only a single night. I stumbled to the kitchen and realized I was the most well-rested person there (perhaps the most well-rested person in the history of lock-ins). More importantly, I also realized I was on my way to being part of the gang as many kids hastened to regale me with their heroics that took place after 5 AM. Maybe it was my wisdom regarding skinny jeans?
So it was a triumphant night after all. Good times had by all, reasonable order maintained, I found I can still dribble with my left hand, and best of all, I had some new friends. Next time, I’ll be up for ping-pong. They better watch out.
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