St. Bernard’s School (© 2020 Ray F. Monroe, Used with Permission)
I’m about to solve a something-like-50-year-old mystery.
It has weighed heavily upon this soul of mine!
Okay, not so much…but I have thought about it a lot over the years.
Well, a couple of times, anyway.
I can’t believe I’m going to admit to this. In public. Come clean. But I deserve it.
Surely there must be a Statute of Limitations on stupid?
And it’s pretty stupid, all right…but finally…those who are still alive and remember this stupid little display of stupid (otherwise also known to me-and-only-me as “The Stupid” in the wee dark hours of the night…) can go to their graves in peace knowing just what the hell went on that one crazy night with that idiot Dorchak kid “up there.”
I’m sorry, mes parents, for putting you both through such public shaming—which I’m sure you quietly endured for my benefit (because I never remember either of you chiding me about it…or…maybe…I’ve just blocked that memory and it will manifest itself in something mundane, like stubbing my toe while brushing my teeth, then seeing my pained expression in the mirror, reminding me of…?), knowing full-well it was unintentional what I put you through…and was just part of my…well…how you say?…childhood dramatics?
It all happened one evening in the St. Bernard’s School‘s cafeteria, in Saranac Lake, New York, I figure somewhere between 1966 to 1968 (I went to St. Bernard’s for grades 1 – 3). All the parents attended to see us good little Catholic kids singing our hearts out. Boys standing next to girls. In front of everyone. Like some rehearsal Day of Judgement before God, the Book of Judgement, and all that. Anyway, we’d all been lined up on those elevated and staggered choir platforms (whatever they’re called; they’re those really wide “steps” and are still used today and cost something like $9K [in today’s dollars], I found out just the other month). I believe I was in the very back, or the next-to-last row in the back. The important thing was I was in the back. And I’m stalling.
So…our audience…composed of said parents…sat in the cafeteria-proper. Facing us. Excited to see their little angels performing. What parent wouldn’t be? This was a fairly large room, and had windows at both ends.
We begin performing.
Now, as we’re all singing in this choir…facing our proud parents (and no doubt bored siblings)… me…using my finely honed Kid Logic at the time, of being between maybe seven and nine years old (plus or minus—God, I hope I was younger…)?…I for some stupid reason…um…pretended that…weeelll…”a friend of mine”…(Lordy, this is so stupid)…was at the far windows of the cafeteria, behind everyone…peering into the windows from outside—
And was making fun of me.
Yeah. While I sang.
<insert embarrassed Face-Palm emoji>
And my reaction to this said phantom friend?
Me? Who was facing the entire world that I knew in the mid 1960s?
Was to make all kinds of jerking, stupid faces as I sang.
Yeah, like the “Stop It!“ Face.
We all know that look: Stop iiit!
Or the “Get Out of Here!“ Face.
You know that one, too. It jerks to the right or left in an attempt to show the offending hallucination which direction with which to take a hike, whilest we (i.e., me) continue to put on a brave performance (!) of not being bothered by the offending hallucination. Which of course I was. Deeply.
And perhaps even the “Rolling Eyes“ Face.
That is the one where one’s eyes roll. It can be most effective if one has large, expressive eyes. I don’t think that factored into my Kid Logic at the time. Or that I could effectively pull it off while singing. Not that it stopped me. I’m like that. Never taking the easy way out. Ever.
Yes…all this and more…while I was singing my little Roman Catholic soul out. In the back row. Facing an audience of everyone’s parents.
Those standing alongside me no doubt wondering if I’d suddenly become possessed by the You Know Who.…
Now…just image this, okay? Because since attending every performance of my nieces in real time, I have…at every performance over the past 12 or so years. Imagine being in the audience and watching such a cool performance…but one freaking stupid-assed kid is making a crap-ton of stupid faces while up there!
As I sat and sit in my present-day audiences and look upon those wonderful (and talented!) young faces over the many years of attending my nieces school performances, I’ve become quite conscious of the fact at how positively stupid I must have looked. How obvious, how…
Instead of full-frontal decorum and pride, I displayed full-frontal stupidity.
What in hell was I thinking way back then?
Well, I think I just told you what-in-hell (that’ll be 10 “Hail Mary’s,” please).
So, Mom, Dad. Seester and bros…I’m sorry for being stupid. I’m not even going to qualify the year.
I think I’m just gonna go riiight over here…in my office…and stand in the corner for a spell.
And I’ll throw in an extra couple of “Our Fathers” just for good measure.
A big Thank You to Ray F. Monroe for snapping the picture for me, and his big brother, Dick, for forcing him to do so (at my behest), through virtual noogies, wedgies, and arm-twisting.
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