Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Shaming of Old Glory

Sometimes I think that my entire life is just one big embarrassing moment. I am pretty sure that I can fill up this entire blog with different things I have done that made me wish I was never born.

To those people who say, "I refuse to let myself get embarrassed", my response is "then you haven't really had anything embarrassing happen to you".

Believe me, I have sat there and said to myself, "okay, don't get embarrassed, this has happened to plenty of people... they survived... you'll be fine...."

But that's when I remember that it hasn't happened to plenty of people, it has only happened to one person, ME. And in those moments, I'm become quite convinced that I don't want to survive this.

For weeks, the school that I teach at had been preparing for what they called "A Hero's Welcome". One of our high school graduates had gone into the military and was just returning home from a long tour in Iraq. We were going to have a big ceremony honoring his service to our country.

The planning committee had worked for months on this celebration. We were planning on hundreds of people from our community and from different branches of the military. They even had three or four media outlets that were going to cover this event.

Well... they decided that nothing would be cuter than 60 elementary kids screaming the National Anthem. Therefore, being that I was the Elementary Choir director, I had now become a part of the ceremony.

With two weeks notice, I whipped these kids into shape. The lyrics took a while, it's not easy to explain "amber waves of grain" and "fruited plains" to children who are positive the lyrics are "Amber waves in pain" and "fruity plays".

But what was really difficult were the hand motions. Apparently there is an unspoken understanding that the kids must put hand motions to every single note that comes out of their mouths. Due to the fact that they do not teach you how to do this in college, my kids typically end up looking like the earmuff-guy at the airport directing a plane while having a seizure. Funny, but not pretty.

Well after several rehearsals, the time had come to perform. I walked into the gym and was blown away by how big of a deal this really was. The committee had actually made a massive flag out of hundreds of red white and blue cupcakes. This was intense.

One of my favorite (please note the sarcasm) parts of the decor were the small plastic flags that were left on every single seat possible. There were tons of them. I mean, literally hundreds and hundreds of flags.

To be honest, the ceremony was extremely moving. The administration and committee did an incredible job honoring this man for his incredible service and sacrifice for our country.

So the time comes for me and my students to ruin this otherwise perfect tribute. Something happens to elementary kids when they have to perform in front of their parents. Some do okay, they focus and sing their little hearts out. Some smile and wave the entire song and completely forget why they are even up there. Some decide that at the exact moment they get on stage they don't like that the person next to them glanced in their direction. I even have some who decide it would be a perfect time for them to remove their pants. We have all sorts. I'll admit, I've become quite used to this and I feel like I handled these distractions rather well. But my biggest challenge was yet to come.

They sang the anthem so well! Teachers were beaming, parents were crying, cameras were flashing left and right, it had truly become a highlight of the celebration. I sat in the front row right next to the soldiers and waved my arms up and down like an idiot, smiling so hard my face hurt. The song ended, people cheered and applauded and it was time for the students to file off stage and take their seat. Which is when they decided to freeze.

I whispered at them to file off and all they did stare at me like I had asked them to build me a tuba made of fruit loops. It literally felt like minutes before it even registered with them that they needed to leave the stage. I eventually said, quite loudly "OK guys! File off!!" This was not a foreign concept to them! We practiced filing on and off several times before they had to sing, but they WOULD NOT MOVE.

The dead air was getting rather awkward so I thought "I have no choice but to go up there and literally pull them off stage". So I stand up, and in front of everyone (soldiers, parents, teachers, MEDIA) I have to walk up to the kids and try to get them to engage their little brains. I am gently pushing kids off the stage when I start to realize, that something doesn't feel right. Something feels VERY wrong.

I don't immediately realize what it is, but I am starting to grasp that something is wrong with the back of my dress. More specifically, the posterior section. At this point, I've been standing with my back to the audience for about 45 seconds. I decided that I had no choice but quickly brush my hands down the back of my dress to make sure everything is where it should be. That's when I found it.

There it was, the symbol of our nation's freedom, stuck to my butt.

I had sat directly on one of the little flags while I was directing my choir. When I stood up, it decided it wanted to stay with me a bit longer therefore proudly displaying the good ol' Stars and Stripes on the butt of my white dress.

I had to pull it off, I couldn't walk off stage with THE FLAG sticking to me! So I quickly reached back and pulled it off of my dress, and what did I do with it then? Did I quietly and inconspicuously roll it up and walk off stage with it like I should have? No, of course not. Instead my tiny brain decided to throw it... AT A SOLDIER. Never in my life will I be able to figure out why my instincts responded how they did. Needless to say, it was not a shining moment for me.

The poor soldier looked at me in shock, trying to figure out who this crazy woman was and why she had disrespected every thing he had fought for. To his credit, instead of throwing this now defiled flag to the ground, he quickly placed it on the seat beside him. I was horrified at my actions and tried to do a quick inventory of the people in my life who would care if I threw myself in front of a moving car. Shamed and disgraced, I lowered my head and quickly exited the stage.

I don't think I have ever been more humiliated in my entire life. In my defense, at least I'm patriotic. Some people refuse to wear the American flag, I apparently wear it too much.


  1. Sooz! I just tried to read this to John and was laughing/crying so hard I couldn't finish it! Holy cow!!

  2. I'm glad your school lets you sing patriotic songs :0) But they might've been a bit surprised if they were expecting the national anthem.

    Love your stories, though! Found you through Pyro.

  3. Herding G-hoppers :)

    As a matter of fact, we were supposed to do the national anthem, but I couldn't find the track in enough time so we had to do with America :)

    Thanks for coming over! This blog will not be anywhere close to as thought provoking as Pyro :)

  4. Everybody has their own style. I go read the Pyros and sometimes the water is just too deep for me to swim in :0) And I'm firmly in the "mommy blog" realm.

    And I like "America" anyway... and it's a lot easier to sing!

  5. Susi, you are hilarious. If you and Jonathan combined the humor of both of your blogs into one, I don't think the world could handle it.

  6. um that was ridiculously amazing as is this blog, as are you. I am so excited by my good fortune in figuring out that you even have a blog, thanks for telling me! So was the flag sticking out of your butt? or just on your butt? I have to know, but you can tell me when we hang out. :) -Amanda (i couldnt figure out to post my comment as my name)

  7. i'd like to say something, but i can't stop laughing....

  8. Wow! What a great story. I laughed because I am also an Elementary music specialist and have endured many embarrasing moments...they happen. I'm sure it wasn't as horrifying as you think. I got this story from my Mom. I'll have to check you out again. Enjoy your summer!

  9. You are such a great story teller! This was hilarious. You could write a very well-written and entertaining book if you keep having moments like this...