Friday, August 29, 2014

Underdressed Llamas

Few #firstworldproblems are worse than being under- or over-dressed. But imagine being responsible for a whole group of people being under-dressed? Horror upon horror.

Today saw my new middle school hold its spirit assembly. Each homeroom had to create a name and go present a little skit. Standard school stuff. Doing things in front of people always makes me uncomfortable, but in controlable situations like these I'm able to keep my anxiety manageable.

My homeroom proudly named ourselves "Lamoreau's Llamas." A few girls taught us a song they learned from summer camp with funny hand motions. We would sing it, then teach the group. We dressed up a boy as a llama, and he looked quite funny. I thought we were good to go.

Then the assembly happened. As kids poured into the halls I saw coordinated outfits, banners, signs, and more. One group of students was all dressed like clowns. Another had Angry Bird beanies. Some wore panda masks. Others all carried jars of Nutella. 

It looked something like this.
In the noisy gym, my kids looked at me like a puppy does when you accidentally step on its toes. Why did you do this to us? Why don't we have costumes? The fear of ridicule that all middle schoolers face racheted itself up a level or two.

To make things worse, I was over dressed. Not realizing the festiveness of the day, I wore my usually slacks and dress shirt. The rest of the staff costumed in some way, or at least had jeans and a t-shirt on.

Sucks to be "that" guy.
"Don't worry." I assured them. "Just do your song really, really well and everyone will like it."

Luckily, our group went towards the end. My whole group relaxed palpably as a few group's presentations were really awkward. Its impossible to have 200 middle schoolers in the room and not have awkward. One girl said excitedly, "maybe we won't be the worst group!" Not the nicest sentiment, but one we've all felt at sometime.

"Substance beats style" I told them, "Just sing the song really well and you'll do great."

Finally our turn came. Our llama, wrapped in butcher paper and if not for the llama ears looking indistinguishable from a burrito, hopped his way on stage. We sang our song. Kids said their lines a little hurriedly. The song didn't come out quite right. And the llama suit ripped. The audience clapped, not once, but 4 times, because they didn't know we were going to keep singing the song.

And when it was all over, a few teachers told me "Wow! Great job!" But mostly I suspect they were being nice. Teachers are usually really good at that. Either way, the moment passed. The kids did good, most of the audience sang along.

The thing that went unrealized by my students, as I often forget it too, is that in those situations everyone else is just as nervous as you. Even if everything goes wrong, unless it goes epically-Youtube-viral-video wrong, everyone will forget it in about 30 seconds when the next group goes up. We are never as big of a deal as we are to ourselves. Most people just don't care.

Really, there's not many times you get to go up in front of 200 people all staring at you intently. Instead of being afraid of it, why not live it up? In the end, they're only people. Just like you, just like me.

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