In 3rd Grade, I invented a dance specifically for show-and-tell. It was called the Charlie Horse Dance, created after a sleepless night of ridiculous leg cramping, teeth clenching growing pains. After some deep thoughts over a bowl of Lucky Charms, I decided that the painful experience must be shared with my classmates, interactively. A wicked laugh escaped me.
I hatched a plan while hiking eight snowy blocks, on my way to school. It was TOP SECRET and had to be executed quickly. I giggled to myself while walking across the schoolyard, dodging the boy’s snowball fight. I giggled a little more, while climbing the winding staircase to our 2nd floor classroom. I giggled with an increased, bubbling exhilaration while taking off my coat, hat, scarf, and gloves in preparation for the day’s lessons. I ignored the quizzing side glances from my fellow classmates. Quieting my giggle to a sometime chuckle, I settled into my seat.
Our classroom was a big square with windows along one side that faced East. Our teacher, Miss J., closed the blinds in the morning so that the sun’s rays wouldn’t blind us. She was a new teacher (our class was her first class since graduating from college) and she had different ideas on seating charts. Instead of placing our desks in rows, she moved our desks into a large U-shape, in which the desks faced the center of the room. This placement gave us a big open space in the middle of the class, where we could: a. stretch out during quiet reading time; or b. play games when it was too cold to go outside. Miss J.’s desk created a dash in the top of our U-shape, with space on both sides creating two entrances/exits.
The morning bell rang, and Miss J. asked for us to quiet down. She called attendance (to which we all shouted “HERE!” upon being recognized) and then requested volunteers for show-and-tell. Percy raised his freckled arm first. “Yes, Percy. Do you have something to share with the class this morning?”
“Yes, Miss J.,” he gulped, “I do have something to share for show-and-tell.”
“Come up here then, dear.” She patted her desk, inviting him to stand at the top of the U-shape. Rising from his seat, I watched him shuffle around the desks and then enter the show-and-tell zone. His red hair stood out in stark contrast with his green and white striped shirt.
“For show-and-tell today, I would like to tell you about my favorite actor, John Wayne,” he began. “I just watched the movie True Grit with my dad, and it’s the greatest movie, ever!” He went on and on about the movie plot and then talked about how John Wayne filmed movies in Southern Utah back in the 1950’s…I hardly paid attention, instead, I focused on bouncing my leg up and down and thrummed my fingers on my desk in anticipation of being called up next to share.
Finally he was done and we clapped our hands, applauding his effort. I watched him walk back to his seat, a smile plastered to his face. “Nice job, Percy,” Miss J. commented, “Anyone else ready to share?”
My arm shot up in the air with a force so strong, it compelled me to rise from my seat. I stood, nerves twitching, ready for my demonstration. “Sarah, do you have something to share with the class?” she asked me.
“Yes, Miss J.” I replied. “I have a very special dance that I would like to share with everyone…well maybe not everyone. Maybe just the boys…for now.”
“Okay…” she responded. A look of concern crossed her face, which I ignored in my hustle to get to the show-and-tale zone.
Oh boy, this is it, I thought to myself. Whew, take a deep breath. I looked out into the faces of my classmates. Gerald and Davey were whispering to each other and glancing at me.
I cleared my throat. “Hello everyone, I made up a new dance this morning and I wanted to share it with the class.” I bounced on my feet, nervous energy escaping me. “It’s called the Charlie Horse Dance and I will need to have the boys stand up in order to show you what it looks like.” I looked Miss J. “Is that okay?” I asked her.
Miss J. glanced around the room and back to me. “Yes,” she replied, “It’s okay with me.” And then turning her attention to the class, she called out, “Boys, please stand for Sarah’s demonstration of the Charlie Horse Dance.” One by one, the boys stood up. I smiled at each and every one of them.
“Please come around, into the center of the floor,” I commanded them, using my stern voice. They followed one another in a line, trailing each other, to the center of the room, stopping in front of their desks. From my left, a U-shaping of boys materialized. There was Gino, Bobby R., Bobby G., Daryl, Gerald, and Davey. Chad, Toby, and Jason circled around the bottom of the U-shape. Richie, Chris, Percy, Marcus, Jesse, and Stevie ended the line on my right.
“Ok, so this is the Charlie Horse Dance.” I moved toward Gino on the left, stopping once I was directly in front of him. I sidestepped to the right, then did a little hop to the left. I took a step back, raised my right leg and kicked out, hitting Gino right in his left shin. “You have a Charlie Horse!” I yelled, jumping up and down, laughter escaping me.
“Ow, Sarah!” Gino yelped while grabbing his shin and hopping on his good foot.
“You’re doing the Charlie Horse Dance, now!” I giggled and then moved onto Bobby R., who stood staring in disbelief at Gino’s predicament. The other boys were making a lot of noise. I heard comments of, “No way I’m letting her kick me.” and “That’s rude, Sarah…freak.” I ignored all the comments except one…from Miss J.
“Sarah, that’s enough,” she sighed. “Boys, please sit down.” I hung my head in shame. “Sarah, I’m not sure what you were thinking when you came up here today, but no one deserves to be kicked. Please apologize to Gino.”
Gino and the other boys walked back to their desks. He sat, watching me with a hurt look on his face. “I’m sorry for kicking you, Gino.” I whispered, staring into his brown eyes (he had curly eyelashes which I’d never noticed before). He nodded at me and then shook his head, looking away as though wondering what he had done to deserve my kick in his shin.
Thank you, Sarah. Please take your seat. We will have a talk at recess.” Head down, I walked back to my desk. Turning to the class, Miss J. said, “Show-and-tell is over. We will begin again tomorrow.” She opened up a text book and turned to the chalk board to begin the day’s spelling lesson.
Sitting in my chair, I looked at Gino across the room. He stared at his desk, obviously in thought. I was ashamed of my behavior. Honestly, I didn’t mean to hurt him or any of the other boys – I was trying to be funny. Tears sprang to my eyes as I wondered about my choice of show-and-tale entertainment.
It was the last time I did a show-and-tale presentation.
From that day forward, I had the reputation of being a jerk (on top of already having a reputation of being weird), which followed me until my family left Utah, three years later. Though I apologized to Gino, but it was too late to undo my action. We never became friends. I suppose it was warranted. Kicking someone for entertainment is kind of a jerky thing to do to someone. Lesson learned.