Saturday, February 11, 2006

Out of Class

At home in my family’s not-so vast VHS collection rests proof that I sang before President Bush. The first “shrub,” not the current weed. This came about when I was in first grade minding my own arithmetic exercises. The headmaster of my private Jewish Day School requested my presence in the hallway. Everyone in the class “oooohed” and “aaaaahed” as they thought I was in some “deep trouble.” I rose from my desk and entered the hallway with trepidation. Once in the hallway, Rabbi Taff and I walked to his office. If I remember correctly there were a couple other kids waiting there already. Most of these other kids were older and not at all familiar except for a couple boys that were better than me at dodge ball. By the 6th grade I was generally considered the best dodgeballer in the school. I also was the clean-up kicker for any kickball game. My prepubescent athletic career aside, Rabbi Taff would go on to explain that our small Northern Virginia school had been asked to sing in the building adjacent to the White House for Chanukah. I had been chosen for this makeshift choir that turned out to be quite an honor.
This opportunity did not really have an impact on me in first grade. I thought it was cooler that I was selected and not any other kids from my class, than the whole concept of being a few feet from the President. Performing for the President was much lower on my list. I do not recall if my parents were there to see it happen. My mom probably was, but since my dad was still in the Navy, and working at the Pentagon, he was probably not around.
Our little choir was driven into Washington, D.C. by parents and were escorted to where we would perform. The whole performance did not last much longer than 5-10 minutes. We sang typical Chanukah songs that have since been made fun of by the likes of SNL and others. When the songs were over the President came over to us and congratulated the group. He seemed genuinely impressed.
The VHS tape sits in a plain black box adorned with a label printed on a dot-matrix. These details alone tell the age of this childhood experience. I once took the tape out to re-live my first grade glory only to find that it was just weird to see myself at a single digit age without a care in the world. It’s funny to think that at my tender age there was greater glory in being a kick-ass dodgeball player than being called out of class to sing for, and meet the President. Looking back, it was one of the cooler things that I got to experience during my formative years. I do not think I could have possibly grasped the uniqueness at such a young age. Today, I would not like to meet our current President for fear of bringing a red rubber ball and pegging it at “W” and yelling, “You’re OUT!”

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