Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Story of My Bitter Defeat

I told someone this story recently and thought maybe you'd like it too:

In fourth grade, my teacher announced that we'd be putting on a show about Famous American Historical Figures.  She had us turn to the back page in our history textbook for a list from which to choose our roles in the production.  

My eye fell upon the name Grace Kelly.  The most glamorous option by a mile.  The teacher made her way around the room, noting everyone's choice on the clipboard.  I saw it would be a while before she got to me but I wasn't worried; I was fairly certain that none of my other female classmates were Hitchcock fans.  They probably didn't even know who she was!  I'd watched Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, and To Catch a Thief over and over with my grandmother, late at night on holidays.

By the time the teacher came around, I was already thinking of my mother's vintage 1950s prom dresses.  I'd pair one with my white Easter gloves.  It would be glorious!

"Oh," said my teacher.  "I didn't realize that name was on the list.  She isn't an appropriate choice.  This play is about American History."

"She was American,"  I said.  "She only moved to Monaco later, to marry a prince."

"No," said the teacher.  "Not her."

"But she was on the list!"

  "No."  It was her final answer.  "You can be...  let me see who is left...  George Washington.  You'll be George Washington."  

 I stayed home sick from school the next week and I wasn't even faking.  The role ahead literally sickened me.  But the illness did not last quite long enough.  Eventually, my mother and I lopped off a pair of gray Sassoon pants at the knee and hemmed them to make historic knickers.  Then we pinned cotton balls into my hair for a white wig.  And then, I stepped miserably into the spotlight and spoke, as a Founding Father.

If any elementary school classmates are reading and have pictures of this performance, know that I am coming for you in the night.  And I will take you down like a cherry tree.