Remembering And Celebrating "The Splortch"

Not Pretty, Even Disgusting, It Is Embedded In Oliver Ames High School History


Chris England walked out from the storage closet that was in front of our classroom and behind a teaching station – the biology teaching station, which was a bank of dark stone with some sort of protective veneer that had a deep basin of a sink over which suspended was a gooseneck of metal faucet. 

Chris “Crispy” England was our biology teacher – one of those “cool” teachers who “got it” – who understood kids, and who had the ability to actually engage his students in learning.  

Now this was 1979 or 1980, for that was my sophomore year in high school – yes, I was of 1981. 

So, anyway, let’s get a hold of this here.  Chris England – Mr. England to us, the teacher – walks out from the closet, and he turns and regards what is on the chalkboard, the blackboard, or whatever we called it back then.

And – yes, I need to say this – Mr. England recoiled. 

His eyes alighted big and wide, and he pulled his hands to his chest, and he stepped back – and did I say he recoiled?— and he yipped, “Aaaaghhhhg!!” 

What did Mr. England see, what had he confronted, that compelled him to this mini and subtle horror and backward reflex?

Mr. England had run straight into … oh, the humanity … allow me to gather my remembrance here … yes … okay … Mr. England …. he came face to face with …. drumroll …

… the … the … SPLORTCH!!

What is the splortch?   The splortch is an abomination,  a crime against all that is right and just in this world.   

Yet, curiously, as well, and paradoxically, it serves to uplift humanity. 

The splortch is a “thing” – a thing you can hold in your hand. 

This thing that you can hold in your hand.   Is it something that nature makes?  Or is it something that man must construct?

Answer:  the splortch is an invention of man. 

How do you make a splortch?   What is the splortch about? 

Here is the recipe and the constitution of the splortch.  

To make the splortch, you need to take a full sheet of white notebook paper and pop it into your mouth and start chewing.   And keep chewing.   

And keep chewing.

Think about what is happening – this grinding and agitating of enamel and sinew and tissue and saliva. 

After about five minutes of chewing, the splortch is ready to be served. 

Yes, the serve of the splortch.  

Let us now get to the “service” of the splortch – or, more accurately described, the lobbing or tossing of the splortch.  

This is not pretty – and I recommend that the sensitive do not continue to read here – but the glob within the mouth is spat lightly onto the concave of the inner hand – the cup that the hand makes. 

I must admit what stews within the paw is foul – it is a broth of pulp and spittle – and who knows what bacteria and viruses percolate within. 

And then the owner of the splortch lobs and tosses it. 

So, here, I need to clarify some issues.   Unless you are a particularly hurtful and nasty person, you do not direct the splortch at any living being.   The splortch is to be thrown at an inanimate object or stretch of space. 

Okay, you throw the splortch and it tumbles and spins and rolls through the atmosphere – and as it does it shakes off bits of saturated paper and saliva – and it continues on.

And then it hits its target.   Accuse me of being a Neanderthal – but when a lovingly prepared splortch visits and meets its target, well, that is something – it is even beautiful. 

So the splortch connects – and a spider web and snowflake of slobber and fiber dances and races across an object. 

I tell you, to watch this unfold entices and reinforces faith in a better world. 

I understand that above I mentioned the snowflake.   

No two snowflakes are alike, and the no two designs created in the splat of a splortch are alike.

A splortch can cover a lot of ground – and make a big impact.

Its influence resounds.

Chris England, a standout teacher, learned this more than 30 years ago in a classroom at Oliver Ames High. 

So many others – countless others – have known in person the power of the splortch. 

I hope these people, those who intimately know the splortch, take it upon themselves to make sure the legacy and the story of the splortch remains vibrant, and that it is transmitted to posterity. 






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