Mr. McGinnis’ Oscar

Today I took my youngest daughter to her school to audition for the talent show.  There were some other kids there in full costume…looked like they put a lot of time and thought into their routines.  Rachel and I didn’t realize it was a “dress” audition, but oh well; she did her best and she has a lovely voice.  Hope she makes it.

Driving home I started remembering something I hadn’t thought about in many years – I was in the talent show too, once in 6th grade as part of an act with several others in my class (we parodied The Gong Show.)  In 7th grade, I was a solo act, and I sang “Just When I Needed You Most” along with my Randy VanWarmer record (a big black plastic disc that spun around on a “turntable” and was stimulated with a “diamond tip stylus” that made the music come through the speakers.)

The talent show was held in the middle school cafeteria.  The kids all sat at the lunch tables.  The room was dark and I couldn’t see many faces beyond the first row.  And I’ll never forget the first row.

Right in front of me were three girls who I will never forget as long as I live.  I rode the bus with them, and often they ignored me but sometimes, they could not resist pushing me, “bumping into me” or saying nasty things to me.  There they were, right in front of me as I sang.  My heart sank.

Your names and your mean faces are forever seared in my memory.  I can still hear you – the three of you took turns barking at me, growling at me, sneering, and laughing.  During my entire song.  I tried my best to ignore you, yet I could not take my eyes off you, and you loved it.  I did, however, finish my song.  My stomach was sick, my knees were weak, my hands were shaking.  I was humiliated, I wanted to cry.  But I finished my song.  You girls heckled me relentlessly and nobody stopped you.

——>NOTE: I also remember in 5th grade, my best friend Cindy and I sat in the very back during the talent show.  We whispered to one another our comments about the various routines.  Even with kids we didn’t like, we had to admit, they were good!  So we exchanged stuff like “Wow, she’s good!” or “She must be GIFTED” all in whispers.  All in the darkness of the back row. But Mr. Melody saw us.

Mr. Melody was about eleven feet tall and weighed what looked like 3oo lbs.  He found us extremely disruptive and sent us to the office.  After the talent show was over, we were sentenced to detention, and we also were told that we could not participate in the long-anticipated Field Day Activities the next day, because we were disruptive during the talent show.

Yet…those three girls barked, growled, and laughed at me during my entire song, without any recourse.  Where was Mr. Melody, the Talent Show Police then? I guess whispering good things to a companion while seated in the back row is “bad” but heckling a performer  from the front row was “acceptable behavior.”  But… I digress.

Back to 7th grade…I was so relieved when my song  was over, I don’t even remember if there was applause.  I exited the stage and cowered in the darkness of the back of the cafeteria.  I leaned on the wall for support and I started to cry.

Someone tapped my arm.  I looked up and it was Mr. McGinnis – my social studies teacher (and one of my favorite teachers of all time.)  Even though it was dark, I saw his encouraging smile, and he gave me a thumbs up.

I understand what Sally Field meant when she expressed such delight while gushing “You like me! You really like me!” at the Oscars.

So you mean girls…I really don’t care that you barked at me.  Mr. McGinnis gave me my Oscar.

Karen Rice, AKA Wizzy


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