Thursday, April 11, 2013

Underwear Should Not Be Optional

It's Theme Thursday everybody--and the first Theme Thursday I've been able to participate in for awhile because of the whole "three jobs" issue. In any case, Theme Thursday is sponsored by Jenn at Something Clever 2.0   and features a group of my favorite bloggers who all write on the same theme. This week's theme is advice. And since I've already used my best dating advice here, I thought I'd do another blast from the past.

As most of you know, I used to teach high school in St. Louis. And when I was there, I somehow ended up in charge of the "at-risk" kids from the inner city. In all honesty, it was the toughest job of my life--and the most rewarding. But, I jumped into it without knowing all the details. Like the fact that being in charge of this group also somehow put me in charge of the annual talent show.

Yes, I agree, the connection between troubled students and talent shows seems tenuous and odd. Which is why my advice is: If you are asked to sponsor the annual high school talent show--whether you're working with at-risk kids or not at-risk kids, basically if there are kids involved--RUN in the opposite direction, shrieking NO!!!!! at the top of your lungs.
Because it’s Hell.


In fact, I’m somewhat convinced it’s worse than Hell. So, if ever you find yourself standing before the judgment throne of the Lord God Almighty and He gives you a choice between the fiery pits of Hell and sponsoring the Talent Show, CHOOSE HELL!!!!!!

Trust me, it will be a lot less painful.
Here’s a look at the show the year before I moved to Okahoma:

The day started with a little activity I like to call “censorship.” This is when I review all the music that we’re using in the show and make sure it’s school appropriate. You see, when you are in charge of an event that is largely run by at risk teens, the administration seems to worry that there will be song lyrics that are a touch vulgar and/or sexual in nature.

It is interesting to note that this same concern was obviously not expressed that same year at the Winter Sports Pep Rally when the basketball team boogied out to center court to “She Does It Like A Nympho.” Oddly, my inquiries to the principals about this discrepancy were never answered.

But I digress!
Anyway, first thing in the morning, I headed to the theater to review the lyrics...which means some of you are wondering why I would wait to the last minute to begin such an activity.

You, clearly, have never sponsored a talent show.
The thing is teenagers can be crafty.  Sometimes the songs that kids try out to and the songs they bring to dress rehearsal are not always the songs that make it to the theater on the day of the show. So, I reviewed them several times throughout the whole talent show process.

So, I listened to the music while a couple of girls from my group put up last minute decorations. Unfortunately, I was interrupted by the sight of 3 students from my first hour class who were meandering through the theater to see what was going on.
“You guys are supposed to be in class!” I told them.

“Don’t worry,” they assured me. “We have a sub.”
Which is when I screamed “You’re supposed to be in MY CLASS!”

“We have a SUB,” they said, like I didn’t hear them the first time.

Which, oddly, I already knew since I ordered the sub so I could ORGANIZE THE TALENT SHOW.
And I was just about done screaming horrible threats at them when another group of kids from the group wandered in. These little pumpkins weren’t actually supposed to be in MY class, but they were supposed to be IN CLASS so I cheerfully added them to the rant, waving my hands in the air, making ridiculous threats, and barring them from my sight for the rest of the day.

Then I grabbed one of my girls, this enormous and incredibly tough chick I’ll call Kiki and put her in charge of the door. “Do not let another kid in here,” I told her. “And if anyone shows up, tell them to GO BACK TO CLASS!”
Kiki took to this responsibility with the dedication of one of those guards at Buckingham Palace, marching back and forth in front of the door, and shooting angry glares at anyone in a six feet radius. As I was off to the side, listening to the song lyrics, I could hear Kiki in the background, yelling threats that were much more inappropriate than mine and telling various people to “Gitcher ass bacta class.”

I probably should have stopped her but you know what?
It made me happy.

Right until the horrible moment when this incredibly young looking student teacher tried to get into the theater to ask me a question.
Apparently her education classes had not prepared her for an encounter with Kiki.

Nor had they prepared her for my giggling reaction to the whole mess…I think she wanted me to expel Kiki on the spot or at the very least send her to In School Suspension but I couldn’t stop laughing.

I mean, I made Kiki apologize and I apologized and I even took responsibility for the entire misunderstanding.
But I was laughing so hard I could hardly get the words out.

Stress. It’s a weird thing.
In any case, in spite of the fact that I was pretty sure I’d be getting an angry call from this girl’s mentoring teacher and maybe even her mom, I couldn’t reflect on her angst for long because it was 30 minutes to show time and I had to confront 2 of my little darlings about their last minute song switches.

“Destiny,” I said, cornering one of the performers. “This isn’t the song you brought to dress rehearsal.”
“I changed it,” she agreed.

“Change it back,” I said. “Because there is no chance you’re getting on stage and dancing to a song called I GET IT IN.”

“Come on,” she said in that you’re such an idiot tone that only high school girls can do really well, “It’s not dirty, it’s about dancing in a club.”
“I listened to it,” I responded in that don’t screw with me tone that teachers need to do really well. “And it’s about what some nasty people think about doing after they leave the club.”

But I am not an unreasonable woman. I told her that if she could actually explain to me what the word “it” referred to in a way that didn’t make me want to shower, she could dance her little heart out.
She decided to change the song back.

And you know what?
That wasn’t the most disturbing song conversation of the whole day. The most disturbing conversation involved a song called “Stanky Leg.” I think the fact that the song is performed by a group called the G SPOT BOYS should have been enough to convince the kids that it wasn’t, perhaps, school appropriate but teenagers are not always deep thinkers. Instead we had to go into a long horrifying discussion about what a “stanky leg” actually is.

For those of you who don’t know (and I hope that’s MOST of you) let me just say it involves women who have a lot of sex.
And if you think that’s revolting, imagine discussing that fact with a 17 year old boy.

Yep, I loved that job.
Anyway, once we got the show underway, things were a little smoother…right until the formerly Stanky Leg dancers got on stage and I realized I made one of the classic blunders: I didn’t check their costume from all angles.

I also checked all costumes before the show… a lesson I learned during dress rehearsal when one group of guys ran onto the stage in short lycra running tights, no shirts, and open leather jackets. But I didn’t check the outfits from all angles...or with all moves being performed.
Which means that about three steps into the routine, the audience and I all got a nice long view of butt crack.

Note to self: If I ever sponsor a Talent Show again, underwear will NOT be optional.
However, before I end, I do want to share a really uplifting moment from the show.

We had this one little singer who tried out and was quite good…but he was nervous about performing. A situation heightened by the fact that he’s special and tends to have a little trouble reacting to things in an appropriate fashion.
So he got on stage, started to sing, and totally forgot the words to his song. It was awful…he got all teary-eyed and flustered, until about 5 of my girls started singing the song, to get him back on track…and they sang it with him the rest of his performance.

I’m not going to lie, it choked me up a little.
When he came off stage, he was still upset and was worried that people were laughing at him and Kiki hugged him and said “Who cares? You made the show, the rest of these people were too scared or lame to even try out!”

It was so spontaneously sweet and kind that I wasn’t even that upset when she followed that with “So tell those a**holes to shut the f*** up!”
Although I do wish she hadn’t been so close to the microphone.

For other advice, check out the other Theme Thursday posts by clicking the link below:
For other advice, check out the other Theme Thursday posts by clicking the link:


  1. Replies
    1. She was a great kid--a little rough around the edges but a great kid!

  2. I am so impressed you pulled this off- I have such respect for teachers and the chaos they deal with. Props to you!

  3. Should we start filling out your application for sainthood now or later... ;-) Yes, underwear should never be optional in high school! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Sadly, I am familiar with the Stanky Leg song, as my 11 year old wanted to download from iTunes. Fortunately he has no idea what the song is about. Glad you survived the talent show - you deserve a medal for that one!