Passing Notes

Passing Notes

Back before there was text messaging, you had to (gasp!) actually write out notes and pass them to each other. No delete button. If you wrote it, it was out there for everyone to see: the person to whom the note was intended, all of his/her friends, and, if you were particularly unlucky – the teacher. But whether it was gossip or amorous intent, some things were worth the risk.

In a room where talking was shunned, there was really only one option when you just had to tell someone something or find out pertinent information on the social status of each other – a stealthily handwritten note. Perhaps you wanted to profess your love. Perhaps you wanted to know if someone liked you. Perhaps you just wanted to make a nasty remark about the old spinster with the apple on her desk, otherwise known as your teacher.

There were a couple of delivery options but none without risk. It wasn’t as if you could put a wax seal on your note to ensure that only the intended recipient was privy to this secret information. Unless the recipient happened to sit within reach, you either had to have the note passed from classmate to classmate (and curiosity was going to get the better of someone along the way) or consider a forward pass, which was likely to be intercepted.

And should the teacher with those eagle eyes happen to notice any of this? The game was over and you might just stay after school, especially if your artistic talent allowed you to draw and distribute a convincing and witty caricature of an authority figure. Murphy’s Law insisted that, should the subject of the note be the teacher, nine out of ten times, she was going to catch you red-handed. All in all, none of these potential consequences did much to deter students from taking the risk. There was juicy information to be shared and, no, it couldn’t wait until the bell rang.

Did you ever get caught passing a particularly embarrassing note in class? Share all the juicy details with us in our comments section. We can all commiserate together as we reflect upon this classroom tradition from yesteryear, eventually replaced with more high-tech means of communication.

5 Responses to “Passing Notes”

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  1. tcoria says:

    i loved passing notes, i did it all the time, and i never remember getting caught. and i would keep all my notes in a big box under my bed. :)

  2. Jennifer harris says:

    I never did this in school.

  3. Elaine Roberts says:

    I wrote one of my classmates a couple of love notes back in 5th grade several years ago and I got busted for it. I was embarrassed by my teacher, a few students in my grade that weren’t my class and I was embarrassed by my mom after I got home from school onetime.

  4. Lynn says:

    I never got caught, but I learned of a few tricks I wish I’d thought to try out in school:

    1) Fake grocery list. If you’re lucky the teacher will just ask you to “share it with the rest of the class” and people will be confused when you start talking about milk, eggs, apples, etc.

    2) If your teacher is the type to grab the note and read it loudly for the whole class to hear, write down a bunch of science-y stuff or the names of state capitals or anything relevant to the class itself. Then the teacher will be the one who’s embarrassed.

    3) If the school bully is the one to steal notes, write something that’ll either scare or confuse: “I hope Big Bad Butch likes rabid badgers, because I’m going to leave one in his locker!” “Butt’s twelve by pies?”

    4) Write it in code. Something the teacher’s never heard of and will have a hard time deciphering.

  5. Fred Goodwin says:

    I always folded my notes in a triangle, like the paper footballs we guys used to play in junior high back in the 1960s. I always admired the girls who took the time to fold their notes to look like an actual envelope. I tried but never quite acquired that skill!

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