Bleak, Living Hell
They've had enough of their souls removed, a piece at a time from that horror of horrors: the school concert. In particular the Grade School Concert. At least in the secondary years, the 'music' is at least somewhat recognizable and, if you are lucky, there's a tune you know and can therefore count down the stanzas until it's done. Unless it's been butchered by scatting and whatnot by some demonic jazz stylist, and then you'd best just resign yourself to your misery.
I've heard there are some districts, pushed to the brink by budget crunches, that are forced to cut music in the schools. "Hah!" I scoff. It's not that the parents are not willing to pay the taxes, it's that they've wised up and realized that if they vote down referendum after referendum on school funding that they'll NEVER HAVE TO GO TO ANOTHER SCHOOL CONCERT AGAIN. These are fine, intelligent, free-thinking people.
"It's not that bad," you who have yet to experience the horror say. I, too, remember performing in these concerts and looking forward to the singing of "Feelin' Groovy" and "Rainy Days and Mondays", complete with hand gestures and careful swaying in time while standing on the bleachers on the stage, or the playing of "The Theme From M*A*S*H", if you were of an orchestral bent. (This was particularly subliminal as the lyrics, as most of us know, go "Suicide is painless, it brings on many changes, and I can take or leave it as I please." I wonder if the actual suicide rate did bump over the following days among those exposed to such sawed out works. Someone commission a study.)
So as I sat, with Sara at my side (the kindergartners only have to do the winter concert), in the 100+ degree F (38+ degree C) fetid, rancid gymnasium, hunched among the sweaty family members of the rest of the student body (some who spent the entire time in a slack-jawed stupor, others, like the pair behind me, desperately trying to hang on to their shards of reality by dissecting the private lives of various and sundry of their village acquaintances throughout the whole thing in normal speaking voices), I realized that I felt progressively lighter and lighter--the result of bits of my soul being torn away, piece by piece. The largest bite, sadly, was when Colin's grade performed a piece called, I kid you not, "Galactic Swamp Dance" entirely on flutophone (a cheap, plastic recorder sounding rather like a kazoo, but more nasal and grating, if possible). Painful does not begin to cover it. Nails on a blackboard could take a lesson. We had descended to the depths of hell: hot, smelly, humid, hopeless, helpless, interminable. At this point, trapped as Sara and I were, in the middle of the bleachers, having gotten there too late to score one of the folding metal chairs or at least a bottom seat on the bleachers, by the doors and the fire alarm pull, I abandoned myself to my fate and sunk into a funk. "Oh, woe is me" droned on the interminable chorus of one song. Oh, woe, indeed. Trapped like rats.
But then! Lo! Sara pulled free, and summoning her strength (and perhaps with the help of a guardian angel or 4) uttered the words of my salvation, "Mommy! I HAVE to go to the bathroom N.O.W." A small shaft of light pierced my psyche and somewhere the trace of a breeze stirred. The lackluster clapping of my fellow suffers gave me hope and a shifting of time and space indicated a slight path down from the bleachers.
I grabbed Sara's hand and took the shining way, jostling those still trapped in their misery and garnering many baleful and downright angry looks. "Sorry, coming through. She needs the bathroom." While envious, none dared to bar our escape. No one wants to mess with a child in need of the toilet.
And so, we spent the last sets of the most recent Concert from Hell seeking out and then dawdling in one of the grade school bathrooms. And then we caught the Grand Finale, standing just outside one of the gym doorways, where all the little darlin's come in and do the splashy finish-y song, some incomprehensible number called "Save the Earth", complete with cheerleaders (Yes. Really.) and hand gestures and cartwheels.
Actually, just before breaking into this cacophony, some poor kid spewed his gastric contents all over the gym floor, next to the piano, causing an interminable delay as the janitor was frantically sought via loud speaker and faculty runners. He appeared with mop and rolling pail and attended to the sick. Sadly, the rest of the audience was too far gone to break free and flee, and just continued sitting there while this took place, waiting as cows for the slaughter.
But finally, it was over and Sara and I (Where the hell was Charles? Why at school registration. So he said. I'm not entirely sure, though, as he is widely known to have an extra helping of brains and more than his fair share of dislike of such things.) struggled through the halls, with the rest of the lemming parents, in search of our young, who had been kept hostage-like from us. (The only announcement at the start of all this was that we WERE to REMAIN seated until ALL the children were done performing. NO ONE would be allowed to collect their children before the concert was over. Sneaky bastards.)
It wasn't quite as bad as this, but close. At least last night's concert had a program that could be followed, so you could count down the years until your sentence was served.
And so, here I sit, several ounces lighter, thanks to the soul-ectomy, plotting ways to organize my fellow parents into a "We'll pass any tax that'll fund schools as long as music remains firmly separated from us." Sort of like church and state. Complete separation or else no tax dollars.
I see why people home school. It's starting to sound worth it.
Labels: The Small-Handed Ones