Saturday, December 22, 2012

Two Girls, a Dance and a Ham

Recently I assisted a friend who is a teacher (Hi, Alisa!) by helping her chaperone a middle school Winter Formal at a private school in San Jose.  I haven’t spent much time around kids in this age bracket (5th -8th grades) since I was a junior high boys’ Sunday School teacher before I fled Mississippi for Alaska in 2002.  However, I looked forward to this experience as I am always curious about whether kids these days are much different than those in my day, due to the many differences in society and technology that currently exist.  I am so glad I am not a teenager in this decade, which I have been told is referred to as the Aughts.  There is far too much access to nasty, trashy stuff of which I was unaware in the veritable Mayberry where I grew up.  You can accidentally come upon something nekkid in any number of places these days, including TV shows.  Not in junior high, but toward the end of high school, we knew where the nekkid wa (behind the counter at the truck stop) but we were unable to access it.  And for that I am thankful.
I arrived early as has been my routine since the infamous band picture debacle of 1986.  I was late to the group photo and because they had already arranged the trumpets on the first row, as trumpets are the coolest people in band besides the drummers, I, a trumpet player, had to go on the back row with the flutes and other instruments no one can hear during the performance.  All apologies to Stacy and the other flautists I’ve known, but a flute in a marching band is almost pointless unless there is some random Revolutionary War theme and there usually isn't. 

As I was early, I was able to watch most of the kids arrive in their dress clothes, if that is really the term to use.  It was an odd assortment of jeans with un-tucked dress shirts and clip-on ties for the boys and party dresses with Chuck Taylor sneakers for the girls.  Is that a thing now?  At least some of the sneakers were sequined.  Since the clothes had changed I wondered if the social hierarchies were in place in California in 2012 as have been in place for decades in other locales like Mississippi and cable TV.  I paid specific attention to those who seemed to be armed with posses, or whatever the plural of posse might be. 

There was one pony-tailed young lady who seemed to have declared herself head decorator as she held very strong opinions about balloon placement and voiced promised repercussions for improper balloon handling etiquette.  Balloon Girl, as I named her, seemed to be the Queen Bee until the arrival of another girl, who I named Sparkly Skirt.  She was wearing what I can only assume were her mother’s clothes and shoes.  Otherwise, she’s not being raised right, y’all. 

Balloon Girl and Sparkly Skirt eyed each other from across the room.  Apparently it was ‘ON’.  Color me intrigued; it was like a reality show, except not skanky or stupid.  Sparkly Skirt started the dancing once Johnny Moustache (he of the overly-styled, barely visible (count them) 7 upper lip hair follicles) broke out his laptop.  After one too many renditions of the weirdly popular Korean dance song ‘Gangnam Style’ (which everyone including some of the more aggressive teacher spouses seem to know the apparent required choreography), Johnny Moustache was replaced by Aggressive Girl in High Tops with her trusty iPod.  I am not ashamed to admit, she and I shared a number of dance favorites.  Okay, I’m a little ashamed.  But the music was only the background for the drama unfolding.  Feeling the power had shifted upon Sparkly Skirt’s entrance, Balloon Girl started dancing while playing slow motion volleyball with the balloons.  Never has power shifted this quickly outside of a South American country as all the children followed suit.  
As far as I was concerned, it was going along pretty well and I was introduced to the teachers, not realizing my appearance as the ‘friend’ of the single teacher was the juiciest thing that had happened there in quite some time.  Feeling as if all eyes were on me, I texted my sister, also a teacher, who confirmed that I was not being paranoid and that at that very moment each and every one of the whispered conversations were in fact about me; specifically the level of my relationship with the single teacher that would have enticed me to accompany her to such an event.

The announcement of the voting for the Winter Formal Court caused a ruckus that refocused everyone’s attention to Sister Boogie Shoes and Mr. Bow Tie, the Art and Science teachers respectively.  Never in my life have I felt relief not to be the center of attention.  And speaking of me, I found my tiny doppelganger.  Wearing the same gap-approved uniform as his classmates, he seemed to be the only boy with any semblance of rhythm.  He would dance with abandon as if no one was watching; however, he was most definitely aware of everyone’s placement as he halted his moves if no one was looking and traveled nearest whichever Queen Bee the crowd was surrounding and start dancing again, to ensure the largest audience.  Oh sit down, Dusty, Jr., I laughed to myself. 
While we waited for the votes to be counted, we were again distracted by a drama that unfolded  just outside the entrance when Johnny Moustache was apprehended trying to sneak off with his girlfriend who, only after I caught sight of her, was summarily nicknamed Invisi-Justice as she had somehow escaped my notice while wearing a hot pink and black floral dress from the tween clothier I loathe.  How do I know?  Well, let's just say they've been selling that very dress for about quite some time since I bought it for my niece Payton in 2006 or so.  Mr. Moustache, when he was denied entree to whatever nefarious activity he had planned, was furious and refused to re-enter the gym, believing to the very depths of his almost-teenage soul that we did not have his best interests at heart.

This brings me to another male with whom I have recently come into contact, who does not believe that I have his best interests at heart.  He feels that I purposefully keep some of his wishes unfulfilled.  Regular readers and rabid followers are familiar with my father’s work.  Over the past few weeks he has asked me to find what he calls his favorite “lunch meat”.  I have tried to explain to him that they don’t have that type of meat product anywhere outside of a 6 ft. radius of Bethany, Louisiana (population 1,100 if you count individual cans of beer at the quickie mart), but he will not take no for an answer, even when said with considerable disdain.  I have actually looked for what he described but I feel as if he is accidentally combining the traits of several of his favorite foods, vile though they may be.  The description was something akin to a thinly sliced potted meat/Spam hybrid.  As my friend Dawn from Memphis would say, “ooh to the wee”. 
I had attempted to provide him actual deli ham, thinking I was splurging on something he would prefer to this luncheon loaf.  I was wrong.  He told me that he would, “eat it, I reckon, but I don’t like it that much.”  Assuming that he would just give up and find another item over which to hyper-focus, I was surprised to see that he apparently ventured out of the yard for a solo jaunt, for the first time in about 5 months.  Never underestimate a redneck on a mission.  I returned from my recent trip to DC to find that he had braved imminent death to cross the street to the Super Mercado y Tacqueria to ensure that no stone had been left unturned in the search for the favored protein of the proletariat, as it were.  I found his butcher-papered bounty was labeled ‘Jamon’.  When I asked what he was eating, he haughtily replied, “I found my lunch meat at the messican groshry store.  And you said they didn’t have it.” 

I smiled and said, “You realize that jamon is Spanish for ham, right?”  I believe the correct spelling of his reaction is, “Hmpf!” followed by the dismissive smacking of lips and judgmental clicking of false teeth.
And I don’t really know what else to say about that.


  1. You are sweet to apologize, but I am bound (at least to Denise Mason White) to remind you that we played that James Bond theme one year and we did Toto as well - without us, y'all would have been trill-less. And I also wanna remind your big head that trumpets were our directors favorite and all of the rest of us knew it too.

    I'll never forget that day. I still giggle when I look at it and am tickled that it is now on Facebook for all to see (thank you Muriel).

    You have got to be THE most entertaining blogger I've ever read, D, and I have to say - seein my name up there, just lights me up like a Christmas tree. ... I'm'a read the rest of it now. ;)

  2. .... and.. your spelling of your father's speech is WONDERFUL! I can hear him saying those very things!!!
    What exactly kind of meat product is he looking for?