The Following Events Are Only Dramatized a Little Bit

September 5, 2009 at 11:29 am 3 comments

As you may recall, I volunteered as a contestant in a Singing Bee.

The closer I got to to the day of the pep assembly, the more freaked out I became. I mean, let’s be clear: I am not a singer. I like to delude myself into thinking that I am a good singer; I sound pretty good to myself when I sing along to the radio. But when I ask Mr. Bees if I’m a good singer, he’s very careful about how he answers, and hon, this Bee didn’t join the hive yesterday.

But it’s not like inability would necessarily stop me. After all, I finished off last year by disco dancing in front of the school, and goodness knows I am DEFINITELY not a dancer. (I know this because my MIL and SIL will take any possible opportunity to remind me of this. They should know, I suppose; they are dancers, and they had the misfortune of watching Mr. Bees and me sway back and forth at our wedding. And anyone who knows child psychology and the power of self-fulfilling prophecies knows that the more they say I’m not a good dancer, the worse at dancing I become.)

Big differences there, though. It was the end of the year, and my audience consisted of twelve-year-olds. And there were five of us on the stage dancing at the same time. This is the second week of school, I’m all by myself, and I’m being stared down by 1,400 cynical young adults. And I’m holding (insert nauseated feeling here) a microphone.

So I was getting freaked out, and trying to come up with escape plans.

I figured I’d just be sure to be hoarse, maybe completely lose my voice. Then I’d have an excuse. Unfortunately, I got hoarse enough to drop my voice an octave and cut my range into about a third, but not hoarse enough to beg off.

Long story shorter, at 10 AM on Friday I was handed a microphone and shoved unceremoniously into the middle of a wide-open gym floor. As the music started, a six-foot-tall bipedal wildcat-of-indeterminate-species entered the gym and started advancing, menacingly. Or maybe it was just dancing. Regardless, I now have a whole new appreciation for the experience of the early Christians dumped into the Colosseum to face the lions.

Here’s where things get funny.

The ASB kids who had organized this had been so amused by the little hints they’d shared. Apparently the first few rounds were going to be “super easy,” because they were all “super familiar oldies” – Michael Jackson, etc. Then the finale was going to be “awesome,” because it was a song that would be “really funny for teachers to sing,” and it was “hard rap,” and the sort of song they’d play at a school dance.

I tried to guess it, I really did. Using my powers of deductive reasoning, and realizing early on that my sweet, conservative kids’ definition of “hard rap” might differ from, y’know, everyone else’s, I decided it was probably going to be a Black Eyed Peas song. I trusted that the early rounds would be easy, since they’d be wanting a good lead-up to the finale, and just hoped that the MJ song was “Billie Jean” and not “Thriller,” because really, does “Thriller” even have any words outside of Vincent Price?

The contest started. There were three of us out there, one of whom was a last-minute substitution with deer-in-headlights syndrome. I was the third contestant, which meant that I had two songs to prep for the fact that there were two unforeseen challenges facing me:

  1. The speakers were all screwed up, so we could barely hear the song we were supposed to be singing.
  2. Apparently “really familiar oldies” were songs that were familiar to, say, people born in the 1940s or 50s.

My first song came up, and in the stress of the moment I failed to remember what it was for this blog entry, but let’s just say that not a lot of singing occurred. I “knew” the song, in that I had heard it before, but I couldn’t have told you any of the lyrics under the best of circumstances.

Ultimately, the first half of the contest was a total bust. None of us could sing anything. Either we couldn’t hear the music, it was a song we’d never heard of, or they cut it in such an awkward place that it just fell apart. The highlight was when one of the other contestants got “Billie Jean” – she didn’t have the lyrics ready, but she danced, and that was pretty funny.

Then, up come the ASB kids, grinning ear to ear. Everything has sucked, but this is going to be funny, they think. The other two contestants – who, I suppose I should mention, are somewhat older than I am – and I look at the microphone with trepidation. This is the finale, the song that no teacher will ever know, the song that they carefully picked out to point out how unhip teachers are.

“Okay, for the finale, you’re all going to sing together,” the MC says, and hands me the microphone.

She pulls out an index card. “Your artist is…”

(dramatic pause)

“…Flo Rida.”

And I have to start laughing. This teacher may not know the words to a Billy Ocean song, but Flo Rida? Flo Rida, I can do.

The opening notes of the song echoed across the gym. (For these, they got the audio right.) The crowd erupts into giggles. So do I.

“I’ve got this,” I mouth to the other contestants.

“You know this?”

“I know this.”

It’s the Flo Rida/T-Pain song, “Apple Bottom Jeans.” Of course I’ve got this. During my internship, one of my students jokingly tried to pass off the lyrics as a poem he’d written and got  the shock of his young life when I sang the whole song right back at him. Yeah, I know this song.

As the crowd giggles, I grab the microphone cord and swing it out of my way. Someone cheers. If I had a baseball cap on, I would have spun it around backward. Even though my mike isn’t on yet, I start singing along, and the kids go nuts. The contestant who danced to “Billie Jean” knows part of the dance, once she hears the song, and “hits the floor” enthusiastically. I do the low-low-low-etc. part of the dance and just barely escape falling on my old-fart backside. The kids are loving it.

Here’s a video – not of me, and not the original music video, but one that probably captures the skill level of my dancing:

Then the music cuts out, and it’s my turn, and I start singing. Only the shock of the dead silence in the room confuses me, and I repeat the last verse instead of going onto the next. They applaud anyway. I acknowledge my screw up and tell them that I meant to have Reeboks with straps instead of boots with fur, and they seem to like that, too.

“She turned around and gave that big booty a slap.” Yeah, I can see why the ASB kids thought it would be hilarious for a teacher to sing that… or to slap their own big booties… 🙂

I laughed so hard.

For the rest of the day, kids were complimenting me on my singing (for which I thanked them for flattering me by calling it “singing” – I was so hoarse it sounded more like frog noises) and expressing their delight that I would know “that song.”

But seriously? Hello, I’m not even thirty. I listen to the radio – in fact, I listen to the same radio stations they do. And none of the contestants were old enough to remember most of the other songs! Just because we’re teachers doesn’t mean we’re 80.

Anyway, I guess I made my splash. The other teachers all know I’m a first-class idiot. Some think I’m brave, others probably think I’m annoying. The way I see it, I’m mostly just a sucker… who happens to know how to go low low low low low low low low.


Entry filed under: FUN STUFF, TALES FROM SCHOOL.

Being Missed The Nice Thing About Teaching…

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stixen  |  September 8, 2009 at 9:07 am

    absolutely fabulous

    :applauds from the way-off peanut gallery:

  • 2. Angela Powell  |  September 15, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Hilarious! Good for you!

    But wait…a song with ‘give that big booty a slap’ was included in a singing contest with an audience of minors? Who decided THAT was appropriate? Am I missing something?

    • 3. Mrs. Bees  |  September 17, 2009 at 6:21 am

      The whole game was run by student council – I’m not sure if they ran the song selections by their advisor or not (or whether he would have known that it was borderline inappropriate). From my perspective, it’s a pretty mild song choice, all things considered. So many pop songs “seem” clean but are actually incredibly raunchy; “Apple Bottom Jeans” is at least forthright about the fact that she smacks her own backside, and doesn’t go into more detail (in THAT part of the song). Now, if they’d stopped the music right before the part where she was so sexual and flexible, or where he wants to fold her like a pornography poster… yeah, that would have been a different story. 😛

      So, to answer your question as to who decided that was appropriate: teenagers. A bunch of very giggly teenagers. 🙂


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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

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