The Algonquin Round Table (officially known as the Algonquin Elemetary School Lunch Room Round Table) was a celebrated and fêted group of school-age children who gathered daily to eat their lunches, while trading barbs and matching wits with one and other.
Gathering initially as part of a students who ate at the same time, a number of the members of group met in kindergarten in 1900 and continued their mutually exclusive clique until 1906 when the last of the group graduated from six grade and then moved up into the angst ridden world of Junior High. It was at this point that the Algonquin group fell apart, as the ages of 13 to 15 lend themselves better to moodiness of puberty angst – with humor being put on hold until the senior year in high school.
During these lunch periods (and sometimes at recess if the slide and jungle gym were being used by oogie kids from special ed classes) they engaged in wisecracks, wordplay, witticisms and an occasion game of four square.
News of their impromptu repartee and convivial conversations were born from the crying and weak – those who most often fell under the scathingly, yet true, observations.
Dorothy “Dotty” Parker
At the first gathering of the table members, five-year old Parker quickly banished one young lunchmate for familiarities unbecoming an acquaintance when the bespectacled girl made the mistake of calling Parker “Polka-Dotty”. Parker retorted by pointing out “Oh, yeah? What boy would want to be around a four-eyes like you?”
As she matured, Parker’s wit became more concise, and more pointed. In 1906, Parker was caught playing doctor with another round table member, H. L. Mencken. The two were discovered in the cloak room, Mencken was probing Parker’s glottis (hubba hubba) in examination. When pressed by her six grade teacher for an explanation of what exactly was going on, Parker responded by saying (after Menkin removed the wooden tongue depressor) “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity - saavy?”
Alexander "Wooley" Woollcott
The eldest member of the round table, and thus the one with the shortest duration was Alexander Humphreys Woolcott, aka as Smart Aleck by some and Wooley by others.
Woolcott was a sixth grader when the kindergartener Parker invited him to the round table with a wink and then patted the seat next her saying “If you can’t say anything nice, then sit next to me.”
Woolcott replied “I have no need of your God-damned sympathy. I only wish to be entertained by some of your grosser reminiscences.” Parker had no idea what Woolcott was getting at, but the girl with the glasses was on her way back to the table and given the options, Parker chose Woolcott, and thus he was in.
On the occasion when she happened to be about, Tallulah Bankhead was welcome at the round table. Always dramatic, Bankhead was the languid counter-balance to Parker’s habit of waving imaginary scissors about should the conversation produce any loose threads that needed snipping off. Bankhead was also known for being more adventurous in making friends, preferring to sit with boys and girls alike. Bankhead was also the first of the round table members to take up smoking, doing so at the age of seven.
On one her more memorable visits at the table, Bankhead let loose a very wet, juicy and noisy fart, but went on eating and drinking bourbon as if nothing had happened to leak from her eight year old rump. When Harpo Marx (on break from Special Ed) could take no more of the rudeness of the gesture (or the smell) he turned to her and asked “Lulu, did you just pass gas?” Bankhead quickly retorted that “of course I did dahling…do you think I smell like this all of the time?”
On still another occasion - this time in the fourth grade - Bankhead was confronted by lunch room monitor Winston Churchill who said "Tallulah, you are drunk." Bankhead turned on him and said "yes I am, and you are ef'ing-ugly; but tomorrow I'll be sober."
On yet still another occasion, following a make out party hosted by Bankhead in the fifth grade cloak room, Dorothy Parker - angered that "Tallu" wasn't more discrete in her proclivities, said to her table mates "You know if you were take all the boys that Tallulah Bankhead let get to first base with her, and laid them all end to end, it wouldn't surprise me." "Well if you be nice to them, maybe they would want to play spin the bottle with you," retorted Bankhead, who stuck her tongue out and then wrapped the event up with a "nanny-nanny-bo-bo" for good measure.
Despite being dissolved when Parker and Bankhead left Algonquin Elementary for the challenges of junior high, the round table left a lasting impression on school lunch tables for years to come.
Henceforth, all such gatherings were called by the clinical psychologists treating the targets of the table’s sense of humor “mutually exclusive cliques” and they were discouraged at all costs.
On the other hand, each of the children involved with the round tables went onto to fabulously neurotic and successful, as well as founders of Uncyclopedia’s famed Cabal.