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Sitting at a table in a high school botany class, a brash teenager, Lloyd, asks his partner, “Have you ever sandpapered a cat’s ass and poured ammonia on it?” The shy boy, Robert, who hears it, at first believes this tall tale and is aghast. A pretty girl, Susie, at the next table hears only the word “cat”. The brash teenager who told the story rebuffs her curiosity. Susie confronts the Robert in the hall between classes. A series of events leads to a budding relationship which is immediately forbidden by the girls wealthy father who believes she should date from a higher economic class. The girl and a friend try to renew the relationship by going to Robert’s home, but they are met with hostility from Robert’s father, who has an intense dislike of anyone from the affluent side of town. When she sees Susie’s unhappiness, her mother tries to intervene, but is met with harsh insults from Robert’s father. Word of the insults gets back to Susie’s father who fires Robert’s father from his job. Robert’s father happens to be the union leader at the plant and calls a strike. Non-union workers are bussed in from another city, as soon as the replacement workers are on the job, the strikers turn the bus on its side and then abandon the strike for the day. The students at the high school hear of the dispute, the strike, and the overturned bus. They take sides and there are loud arguments and threats in the hallways. One partially demented student, Marvin, goes to his home and comes back with a loaded pistol. He declares Robert the cause of the turmoil and aims the gun at him. Robert’s friend, Lloyd, comes up behind Marvin, grabs his gun hand and raises it so that the bullet goes harmlessly into the ceiling. Lloyd advises Robert and Susie to leave the building until order can be restored. Robert and Susie walk to a park some distance from the school, sit on a bench, and review the events that led up to their present situation. When Susie learns the entire story about sandpapering the cat, she realizes that it was Lloyd’s fabrication to serve his ego needs. They find parallels with the ego needs of their fathers. Robert makes an uncharacteristic decision and asks Susie to run away with him. They quickly make plans and leave the city in a borrowed car. Both families soon discover that the pair are missing and are thrown together in an uncomfortable collusion to find their missing children. A next day phone call from Susie reveals that the couple have been secretly married. The mother’s immediately cooperate to welcome the couple home. Forced by their wives the two fathers form an uneasy alliance.