Left-handed Paper Stretchers


Maximilian Gardner, 14, is a freshman in high school, and considers himself “Caucasian.”  He plays football and basketball at his high school.  He heard about this from a friend on the football team near the beginning of the school year.  Mr. Salyer is a teacher at the school.


So, apparently, at the beginning of the year, Mr. Salyer will ask one of the new kids to go find the left-handed paper stretcher.  And he’ll tell them, “I think Mrs. Gunnell has it.  Do you mind going and asking for it?” And so that kid will run off to Mrs. Gunnell’s room on the opposite side of the school.  Well, she doesn’t have it, so she tells him to go to another teacher, again on the opposite side of campus.  And they keep doing that over and over again until finally they either realize there’s no such thing as a left-handed paper stretcher or someone tells them.  I guess one time, this guy, Cal, he ended up going for literally three hours until someone had pity on him and told him to stop.  So basically, once the first person has gone looking for the left-handed paper stretcher, all the new kids are officially part of the school.


This is a classic initiation rite, very much like an anchor watch or some other prank.  To Max, this rite is the official symbol that the new students are part of the school, more than even a welcome pep rally or some other official function.   Interestingly, eBay now sells water color paper stretchers, but I think that is to hold a piece of paper in place while painting.