"My mind is going blank! I'll never remember!
Why do they have to spoil Christmas by making us be in plays?"
That's what Peppermint Patty says when she's forced to be a sheep in her school Christmas play. If you haven't seen "It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown", I recommend it. It's really funny. And dang, I can really relate to Peppermint Patty. My elementary school did a big play every Christmas. I loved making the props and helping with the costumes, but I didn't like being onstage. The whole thing caused me stress. One year I was forced to be a Russian dancer in "The Nutcracker". I remember making the outfit out of crepe paper and the hat out of construction paper. We also had to do some funny dance. I don't remember the performance itself. The terror must have blanked it from my memory.
Now, I'm no actress. I never enjoyed that kind of attention. When I was in school, just reading aloud from my text book made me queasy. The words got all blurry and if you heard me, you probably thought I couldn't read well. If I was assigned to do an oral report, I stressed over it so much that I got physically ill. My teachers thought I made it up and insisted it was "good for me" to do these things. I remember one time where I did an oral report in front of my class. I was so stressed out and I fretted over it for weeks. I finally got up enough courage to do the report, only for the teacher to let the kids critique me. One girl raised her hand and pointed out how many times I said "ummm" in my report. What a great way to get kids interested in public speaking. Is it any wonder why I disliked school so much?
Sixth grade was the worst when it came to the Christmas play. They decided to do a play about a dancing banana. Yeah, you read that right -- a dancing banana. I don't remember the story, nor do I know if this was a common play for the time. For all I know, it might have been the brain child of one of the lunatic teachers. Seriously, a dancing banana? That sure brings the true meaning of Christmas to a person. It wasn't like the kids had any choice in this. So, guess who they made the dancing banana? Yep -- me. As if reading out loud wasn't stressful enough, now they're going make me be a dancing banana. The teacher assumed I'd be perfect because it was a non-speaking part. I have to give her credit for that, but not much. The only thing worse than a speaking part was a dancing part. And if dancing wasn't bad enough, it was the major character in the stupid play. And to top it off, I was going to have to wear a full-sized paper mache banana suit -- WTH? I don't remember the story, but I remember the dancing banana had to spin around in circles on stage while all the kids stood around singing. It couldn't have been any stupider. So, when Peppermint Patty has her little rant over having to be a sheep, I can totally relate. I was a wreck the week before the play. The stress caused me to feel sick and I ended up staying home most of the week. When I showed up at school on Friday, they informed me I'd been replaced as the dancing banana. They gave the part to my best friend. I was still in the play, but I was a shopper in the store. All I had to do was hold some bags and walk around. I could do that. Had they just let me do that from the very beginning, everything would have been fine. But no, they had to cause all that stress. It's been over 30 years and I'm still haunted by it. It might have spoiled Christmas that year, but at least it didn't spoil my love for bananas. That would have sucked.