This was supposed to be another satire piece, something to make you smile on a Friday at a time when high gas prices have us, well, down, and we’re all still trying to decide whether it’d be a good idea to have a Dick Clark hologram ring in 2013 in nearly 7 months – because even that would be better than Ryan Seacrest.
Maybe this was to be about Coachella, about seeing a baked crowd witness the second coming of Tupac and wondering whether half of the roughly 90,000 people in attendance just thought they were hallucinating.
Perhaps we’d get into the whole secret service scandal, maybe give you my take on how the news of these agents paying for sex wasn’t nearly as shocking as seeing how much weight Hillary Clinton has gained.
Nope. As ripe and juicy as such headlines can be to engage in juvenile and even reckless banter, well, sometimes you have to sit one out. In baseball terms, you have to take a pitch, step out of the batters box, even, and recognize something more important, something more profound than music festivals, secret service agents and Colombian whores.
Because my experience at the Surratt Elementary School Book of the Month presentation, last night, trumped all of those things, that’s why.
Since my children’s book, Night Rhythms, hit store shelves in October 2011, I’ve had the good fortune to read the book to audiences large and small. I’ve been to different schools, book fairs and parent conferences. I’ve taken pictures with children and their parents, signed books, notebooks and even little slips of paper. In fact, one kid slipped me an orange crayon because that’s all he had, but he was desperate to come away with something.
So when the group of second graders took the stage and rapped the book, word for word, for the packed auditorium, I was speechless (a rarity). There they were, dressed in their pajamas in honor of the book’s main character, with cardboard cutouts from the book’s key illustrations, head-bobbing and hand-waving to something I wrote.
I saw kids having a terrific time, some of them really got into it, moving their bodies to the rhythm of each line a la Snoop Dogg and Dre. In their laughter and excitement, I could see that this was no extra credit assignment, something that a teacher made them do. And the more they sang the more moved I became.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but for a brief moment I very nearly became emotional.
And no, this wasn’t the sort of emotion one gets while throwing his hands up in the air (and waving them like he just don’t care) along with 90,000 chemically-altered fans at a middle-of-the-desert music fest.
This was an auditorium in Clint, Texas that happened to be filled with proud parents, hard-working teachers and a bunch of creative kids getting together on a school night to celebrate reading – and to humble the living daylights out of me.
Seriously, it’s flattering enough that kids are even reading this book. But for a group of second graders to get together and memorize the book and perform a rap out of it simply blew me away. And so what if they may have gotten a little tired towards the end – did you catch Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime performance? – , they sang their butts off and I loved every moment of it.
Who needs Coachella and Tupac holograms when I had this? This was my Coachella, my Tupac hologram. Had those kids sung another verse I would have started to crowd surf. And for that, Surratt Elementary and all who work and learn inside its halls, what can a guy like me do to show my appreciation?
I guess I can start by writing this…