Do you guys remember D.A.R.E.? I don’t know if they still do that program in schools or not, but I remember going through two cycles of D.A.R.E. by the time I was twelve. Even in fifth grade, I knew that it was a total joke. Especially because I went to possibly the most whitebread, boring, suburban elementary school in the world. Besides, by fifth grade, I could mostly look at my fellow classmates and pinpoint which ones were going to become stoners later in life. Mullets and rattails were usually a tipoff. Or all-black sneakers.
We had these D.A.R.E. workbooks that we had to fill out as homework, and there were cartoons of bedraggled teenagers handing joints and pills to nervous and wide-eyed younger students. I was drilled on the horrible consequences of each drug and tutored in ways to “just say no” to every illicit substance that may cross my path. “No thanks, I’d rather play video games than get high right now!” Works every time.
At one point, they had three high school mentors come and visit our class on a semi-regular basis. I’m not sure what criteria Amy, James, and Fallon had to meet to be our drug-free role models, but I do remember they were involved in sports, so they were probably peeing in cups anyway and thought, “Hey, I can get out of third period if I go talk to these runny-nosed kids.”
You might be wondering why I so clearly remember the names of our mentors from 15 years ago. For D.A.R.E. graduation, we had to come up with a class song about being drug-free. Our graduation theme was The 1960s, an era lauded for its lack of drug use, and we parodied Simon & Garfunkel’s “Feelin’ Groovy.” Now that I am looking at the song’s original lyrics, it just sounds like a stoner song. But one verse of our revised lyrics went like this:
Amy, James, and Fallon came here
They don’t smoke, and they don’t drink beer
They came to teach us what to do
That doing drugs is bad for yoooo-uuuu.
“They came to teach us what to do,” is clearly a lyrical masterpiece. My friends and I made up our own D.A.R.E. song based on Britney Spears’ hit, “Baby One More Time.” It was much better, but for some reason didn’t quite make the cut:
My hangover is killing me (and I)
I must confess, I’m still drinking (still drinking!)
When I’m not smoking I lose my mind
Need to get hiiiiiiiigh
Any drug will do just fine
These days, we would probably have been suspended if a teacher had overheard us singing it at recess because of a zero tolerance policy. But it was the ’90s, baby, when kids could compose songs about illicit drug use with no consequences. Take that, music teacher and D.A.R.E. officer!
Despite my massive and alarming fifth-grade cynicism, I never did end up doing drugs, so I guess I have D.A.R.E. to thank! Or, you know, my good upbringing. And the fact that literally NO skeevy teenagers ever offered me LSD like D.A.R.E. promised they would. Now I just have a notebook full of ways to turn down drug-pushers that I’ll never be able to use and a distaste for “The 59th Street Bridge Song.”
(No drugs were abused in the making of these groovy muffins.)
- 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (72 grams) corn meal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240 grams) sour cream
- 1½ cups (180 grams) blackberries, chopped in half
- 1 cup (125 grams) frozen or fresh corn kernels
- 1 tablespoon demerara or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line 20 muffins cups with paper liners. Arrange oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, corn meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Cream together butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla and sour cream. With the mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and stir in blackberries and corn by hand with a rubber spatula.
- Scoop the batter into 20 muffin cups, filled about ¾ full. Sprinkle tops of each muffin with demerara sugar for a crunchy top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, rotating the pans from top to bottom half way through. Remove from pan immediately and allow muffins to cool on a wire rack.