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  • In fourth grade someone got the bright idea of cutting lunch to an outrageous 15 minutes (as if going to a year-round school without a cafeteria wasn't enough--we ate at our desks and were served by mobile carts in the hall). To get the slow eaters (me) up to speed, our teachers implemented a charming little policy called "Shovel Time."

    The first nine minutes would pass normally. Then as the tenth approached, Miss Stauffer (a feathered-haired gal who drove a Camaro and loved Little River Band) would yell, "Do you know what time it is?!" The class would manically shriek back, "SHOVEL TIME!!!" Talking was absolutely forbidden the final five minutes—it was a deathly silent scarf fest.

    I don't know if I've ever been the same since. But as a nod to this classy ritual, I've adopted the humble scooping implement as my rating system's icon. Shovel on!
    ----------------------------------
    1 Shovel=Passing Fancy
    2 Shovels=Puppy Love
    3 Shovels=Crippling Crush
    4 Shovels=Serious Stalking

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