One of the funnest things the fifth graders do at Hoo's school is monologues after they read Prince Caspian. Most of the kids dress up in the costume of their character and ham it up. Some take on English accents, some play act, some read straight off cue cards so as not to blow anxiety-driven chunks at their audience.
There is a combination of innocence, happiness and an edge of tween that emanates from this group. This is probably the last year most of the kids will acknowledge their parents without an eye roll or a huge sigh, indicating our relative ignorance about life. It is also the last year most of the boys won't stink if they run five feet. And next year the girls will likely discover make-up and their first bras. They are, as a group, on the verge of diving into the deep of adolescence. They just don't know it. But, my misty eyes betray the fact that I know.
So, while I am having these thoughts watching them cycle through their performances, Hoo hits the stage, which is really just the front of his classroom but might as well be Broadway. He is nervous. You can see it on his face and the way he grasps at the bottom of his kingly robe.
He has worked hard on this performance. He has written it, practiced it, memorized it, matched it with the perfect costume, and waited impatiently for his turn. His family has, in turn, listened intently, offered a few suggestions, clapped after every performance, and wished him luck.
And now it is here. He starts strong: loud voice, good eye contact, great speech. He doesn't waver. He holds the robe for dear life but, otherwise, seems comfortable to the untrained eye.
But there comes a point where the words get tangled. He is to say "Peter and I fought very hard" but trips over the verb. And interchanges it with, quite arguably, the funniest word in history.
It came out "Peter and I farted very hard". And there was a pause. His entire body stopped. His eyebrows raised and his mouth dropped open. He appeared to become a statue for a milli-second. And then the laughing started.
The entire class was in stitches. The adults there to watch were even having a tough time holding it in, yours truly included. My shoulders bounced and my eyes watered as I tried to hold my laughter inside.
He went after the sentence again, still having not cracked a smile. This time he found "fought", but immediately cracked up after he said it. This happened four times before he finally looked toward his teacher, who quieted the audience and encouraged him forward. He shot a glance at me and I motioned to him to move on.
And he did. He got through the sentence after four attempts and finished as strongly as he had started.
He was the belle of the ball after he sat down. The boys were high-fiving him and the girls were giggling. He was approached by another fifth grade teacher in carpool congratulating him on his monologue. Hoo's response "That sure spread fast! Now the entire fifth grade knows!"
I recounted my faux pas in a business meeting at Citibank sometime in the late 80's where I intended to say "Come out with my guns blazing" but instead managed to mangle the sentence to "Come out with my buns blazing". I didn't live that comment down for the rest of my career with the bank.
It happens to all of us, was my conclusion. Young, old, smart, dumb, we all have those moments. Considering he lives with three other males of the species, his trip up wasn't surprising in the least.
I just can't wait to hear the new nickname he will gain as a result. If his friends are worth their salt, they are pow-wowing over that decision at lunch and recess today.