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An Odd Memory, Part II

by gwolinetz on April 5th, 2008

[For An Odd Memory, Part I, click here]

I’m sitting at my computer looking at my fantasy baseball team and this popped into my head, so I’m typing it down now, because I know I’ll forget.

Every year, my elementary school had several assemblies, wherein they would enlist some portion of the student body to perform for the rest of the student body. Participation was not optional. There was one time that my 4th grade class was forced to perform a Thanksgiving play, in which the general plot was regarding the origin of turkey as the bird of choice for Thanksgiving. When one of the Pilgrims left the chicken in the oven too long, an Indian tribesman came to the rescue with a turkey. I also remember:

a) there were some really corny songs involved, and

b) a line in the play was given to the nicest girl in class who also happened to have a very, thick Latino accent of indeterminate origin (I think somewhere in South America). Anyway, when she noticed that the bird was overdone, she exclaimed, “The shee-ken! Eet’s boorned to a creesp!” This sent the audience into an uproar.

Amazingly enough, this isn’t what popped in my head first. This only came to me while I was writing about these assemblies.

No, what I remembered before also happened when I was in 4th grade, but as an observer, not a participant. This was right around the time that rap music first gained real mainstream consciousness, so we’re talking like 1984 or ’85, and rap was still very much Run DMC and very little 50 Cent or The Game (editor’s note: if those two people are dated references to popular rap artists, insert a more current artist). The 6th grade class was about to leave to go to Junior High and they were asked, as one last gesture, to perform a graduation performance. The main song of which, was a really, really kind of innocuous rap song about getting ahead that had a line like, “We’re talkin’ ’bout opportunity, when you try real hard in the land of the free.”

And at the end of the line, one of the larger members of the class did that loud “huh uh-huh uh-huh” thing that rappers did back then. It’s hard to type or describe, but if you heard it, you’d know what I mean, Anyway, I started laughing really hard. Not at the performance (which, admittedly, probably deserved it), but more at the sound. My teacher started yelling at me to be quiet, but that just made me laugh harder. It got contagious, and eventually seven or ten of the people around me started laughing, including one girl notorious for wetting her pants when she really got to laughing. Of course, she managed to wet herself now, which made us all laugh harder and also made them stop the performance, while they got us under control and took the girl out to go change.

Man, elementary school was really awesome in the ’80s.

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