Pencil break (sometimes called “pencil fighting”): that one on one contest pitting pencil against pencil has long been outlawed in elementary and middle schools across the land. The rules are simple: one strike per turn. The player receiving the strike must hold his pencil firmly in a horizontal position. The striker must use a two handed “fling” motion; holding the top of the pencil with his less dominant hand, releasing, and applying a “catapult” motion with his dominant striking hand. Alternating turns commence until one player’s pencil does, in fact, break.
Pencil break matches have been known to commence, as preplanned duels, on playgrounds, during lunch breaks, in bathrooms, and nearly everywhere the panoptic eye of a teacher, administrator, or principal does not see. Small crowds of observers, most often male, erupt around the pencil break match. Often, observers await the winner with their champion #2 “smasher,” or surreptitiously customized “choppers,” or “slammers,” subtly reinforced through means analogous to “bat corking” found in baseball. Erasers are sometimes removed and the metal ferrule is flattened into a crude blade, mangling tiny jagged slices cross grain through the opponent’s shaft.
The subculture of pencil break remains a symbolic means of expressing inchoate machismo, youthful expressions of prowess, and rebellion against authority.
Garbage Pail Kids