Friday, December 19, 2008

Bananas don't dance.

"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.


  1. LOL! I can relate to her too! I sound just like her, as a matter of fact. I find myself often saying AND thinking "Why do they have to spoil Chrismtas by making me clean my house and run errands around like a mad woman for these parties!" I feel so busy busy busy that I can't enjoy the moment. ~sigh~

    Pepermint patty, scrooge and me. We're a great trio.

  2. What a strange glad you didn't have to wear the banana suit! Oh, the ways they found to humiliate us in school!

  3. Wow,I'm sorry that whole banana thing was such a traumatic thing for you.It does sound like a perfectly idiotic idea for a Christmas play. I would have been exactly the same way-stressed to the point of sickness.To this day,I hate public speaking too.I can't bear standing up to give a testemony at church!

  4. A dancing banana for the holidays! That is absurd! I'm glad you escaped the banana suit!

  5. "While visions of bananas danced in their heads..."

    Oh! I hear a poem! I'm inspired! I must go and write it down! It will become famous around the world!

  6. I don't know about any other area, but we've never had dancing bananas in a play around here...grin...

    Fun story! And I love Peppermint Patty...she tells it like it is, I love that...

  7. OK, I am sorry for your trauma but you paint such a vivid picture that I am laughing my head off with vision of you (as I see you in your blog pic) dancing around in a full banana suit! Perhaps a mind picture that I will never forget - thanks Rena!

    Funny because as a kid I was the same way. I hated standing in front of the class and I was a 'swayer.' I had one teacher tell me that I made her seasick. All lovely positive feedback!

    But obviously something helped because when I started working I did alot of presentations, many in front of strangers, and never even gave them a thought.. though I made sure not to sway (um) - well not too much anyway!

  8. Christy -- We have a few friends that look and sound just like Peppermint Patty. I'm still trying to convince my boys she's not a boy. Marcie calling her "sir" doesn't make that easy.

    Adrienne -- Isn't that the truth about being humiliated at school. I hated it.

    Leanne -- I still wouldn't say I like public speaking, but I'm a little better now. I broke out of my shyness finally, but I don't think that had anything to do with the stuff they made me do in school.

    Kelly -- Oh, you should have seen it! It wasn't just a banana SUIT. It was a full-bodied hard banana made from paper mache! It was hideous!

    Bish -- LMHO! I sure hope you got that written down. I wish you all the best getting it published too. Something good has to come from all of this, right?

    Brenda -- I don't know if it was an actual play or if one of the teachers wrote it. I tried to look it up online, but didn't come up with anything. I don't remember the story at all. I just remember there was a dancing banana and part of it took place in a department store. Scary.

    Tracy -- LOL @ being a swayer. I guess that's better than being an ummmer!

  9. I can recall a few times of being in plays...of course, I am a sucker of being in the "spotlight". =D hee hee

    Hope you have a great Friday night! :)

  10. LOL Alex -- the difference between you & I is that you have talent. Even hidden in a giant dancing banana, I was still intimidated to twirl around. Enjoy your weekend too!

  11. Awww Rena, you poor thing. We never did plays when I was in grade school, just singing. I loved that. I can't believe they let you go until the last minute thinking your were going to be the banana only to change it; not nice.


  12. Rena: I'm sorry they thought dancing bananas and Christmas went together somehow. The only place dancing bananas belong is on Verla Kay ;-)

  13. Rena,

    I'm glad I escaped all the school plays because I too would have been fretful about the whole thing. They say public speaking (and I'm sure elementary school productions and reading out loud fall into this category) is the number one fear of most Americans.

    But after reading about your banana experience, I must say (and I mean this in the nicest way), buck up girl. With books coming out soon, you will need to make public appearances and probably (well, okay definitely) presentations where you have to speak in front of a group. No escaping it now as you are a contracted, soon to be published author and authors need to be in the public eye. Sorry. But on to more positive things - check out my blog posting on my JGDS blog as you've been nominated for a fabulous blog award. Looks like you are racking up quite a few blog awards here. See you in the postings - E :)

  14. LOL @ you telling me to buck up, Eylsabeth! These plays were a long time ago.