Mary and Robert were the Nutcracker Prince and Clara. They were easily the strongest leads we had ever seen in our little production. I guess you could say that I hired from within... They had been a couple of my little super stars their entire elementary school career. And I don't mind putting it down in print that they were also two of my favorite students ev-ah. Because they laughed at all of my jokes and told me that I was pretty. And that's all it takes, folks.
Okay, not really.
Robert was a fifth grade boy after all, the kid had standards. I'm pretty sure he would have rather stapled his lips together than pay me a compliment. Unless it was something like, "Mrs. Evans! You hit me right in the mouth with the eraser that time!" Because... I used to throw erasers at them when they missed their lines in rehearsal. What? You don't DO that? Man, you are missing out on all the finer points of teaching. Oh, settle down. It was really more of a gentle toss. And, believe me. No children were harmed in this production of The Nutcracker.
I'm a weakling with terrible aim.
But I digress.
So... Robert and Mary. Amazing kids. Especially that little Mary... sweet. So sweet. Voice like an angel. Brilliant. Dependable. So talented. Always late for everything.
We really got each other. (the late part, people. the late part.) She was in every honor choir, xylophone ensemble, and drum group I ever put together. Mary is probably a drama major at Yale now...
So... fantastic cast. Another one of my little music stars, Echo was playing the part of Fritzi... What, you don't remember Clara's troublemaker little sister Fritzi? Ahhh... That's because she didn't have one. But Echo was wonderful, so I tweaked the script a bit. Because that's how I roll.
Everything was going great. Lights went down, the gymnasium was packed, kids were adorable, chorus was rockin', my leading rolls were nailing everything...
But something wasn't right.
I sensed a disturbance in the force.
Well, everyone in the audience sensed it.
I had no idea what was going on, all of my focus was up on the stage. But there was a rustle and bustle behind me in the audience. Voices. Raised voices. Yelling. What the??? I turned around to see what the commotion was, and my eyes locked with Principal Judy's. She was frowning, and motioned for me to stop.
Stop the show?? What the heck is going on?
I motioned for Mary and Robert to stop. They stood on the stage, perfectly quiet and still. The whole gymnasium had suddenly grown eerily silent.
Except for that man yelling and cussing. Perfectly eerie and silent... except for that guy.
Mary's father had risen from his seat, anger etched in the lines between his eyebrows. Judy motioned for him to sit back down, she was already making her way towards the loud cussing dad. Or shall we, for the sake of polite conversation, call him Our Most Distinguished and Disgruntled Gentleman? I like that. That's his new name.
Judy was making her way determinedly towards Our Most Distinguished and Disgruntled Gentleman. Frowning, stepping over kids, squeezing in between folding chairs. Disgruntled Gentleman didn't notice. He was too busy cussing and yelling.
No one was breathing. Except for Disgruntled Gentleman, of course. You have to breathe to cuss at the top of your lungs at an elementary Christmas Program. Breathing is essential. He stopped his rant abruptly when Judy's forefinger appeared an inch from his nose. His head jerked back and his eyes widened in alarm.
"You. will. not. say. BAD WORDS ANYMORE!!" Judy growled between clenched teeth. Her finger punctuating every word in his face.
All five feet two inches of her was furious. Electric. Seriously frightening.
Our Most Distinguished Disgruntled Gentleman blinked rapidly. His Adams Apple bobbed in his throat. "That guy. He tried to trip me. That guy-" he tried to explain weakly.
"Tch!" Judy cut him off abruptly with an angry noise.
He fell silent at once. Our Most Distinguished and Disgruntled Gentleman was under the impression that another member of the audience had tried to trip him with a cane. That's right. With a cane. But the truth was, Disgruntled Gentleman was high as a kite, probably got his feet tangled up in the legs of his chair, and tripped himself.
"You will not say bad words anymore." Judy repeated firmly.
His head nodded quickly. "Yes ma'am." He mumbled.
"Yes what?" Judy snapped, her admonitory finger still an inch from his face. "Say it."
"I will not say bad words anymore, ma'am. I'm sorry." He was sorry. That guy was terrified. We were all terrified. I suddenly felt very sorry for every kid who had ever faced this wrath from across a desk in the principals office. Sorry for anyone who had ever taken her parking space at the grocery store. Sorry for her own children. Sorry for her husband. Sorry for any human being on the face of the earth who had ever made the fatal mistake of displeasing this woman.
And if you've never seen a pissed off elementary principal... believe me Gentle Reader. You don't want to.
She nodded her head curtly at Our Most Distinguished and Disgruntled Gentleman and returned to her seat. Still, no one moved. No one whispered. The folding chairs didn't dare squeak. Judy motioned to me to continue the show.
So I did.
The rest of the show went off without a hitch. Perfect.
But through the whole show, my heart was broken. I was mortified for the little girl whose father was obviously on drugs and had stopped the show. Mortified.
Kind of puts being embarrassed by your mother dropping you off at school in her house coat into perspective, doesn't it?
The Nutcracker Prince, Mary, and little sister Fritzi. Oh yah. And that's me on the floor, bossing around kids. I mean, directing.
Angel Babies. Oh my gosh, they're cute.