Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bowing Out

The last months of 2nd grade became increasingly difficult as more and more rumors spread that I was severely brain-damaged. None of it made any sense to me. I still had problems speaking because of the injury on my 4th birthday. But that was the only symptom I knew of, and no one seemed to notice that. Even when kids were calling me retard and half-brain they never made fun of my speech. So the whole thing was based on X-rays that didn't feel like they had anything to do with me.

But at the school year's end something happened that added fuel to the fire and eventually made me think I was mentally deficient. There was to be a graduation assembly and show that parents would come to, and our teacher decided to have our class put on a dance on stage.

I don't remember the music. I think there was a song we were supposed to sing to a record playing, but I can't recall any of that. The dance was simple enough that we could all do it adequately after half an hour of practice. It involved a little hand holding and turning but no fancy footwork. It looked like it would be clear sailing.

Then the day of the show we had a last minute dress rehearsal (outfits consisted of paper hats and paper flowers if I remember right) during which Mrs. Graves sprang the news that we would be expected to do a group bow at the end. Again, no problem, right? Who can't bend at the waist on cue?

It turned out I couldn't. The first time they said I was out of synch and didn't bend down enough. So then there were repeated run-throughs of just the ending. We must have done it 10 times. Each time the laughter got louder. There were shouts of "look at the retard," from the kids in other classes watching from the floor. Mrs. Graves had to tell them to shut up. She didn't defend me, she just said they were being disruptive. On the stage, my classmates were getting angry because I was forcing them to go over it with me so much.

I just couldn't get it. The teacher made me step out of the line and watch the others. Seeing what they were doing didn't help. I couldn't match up what I saw them do with how I perceived my own body while trying to do it.

I was finally dropped from the show. Mrs. Graves said I would have ruined it and been an embarrassment to the whole class.

I'm sure now that it was a lingering symptom of the brain-damage. In fact, I think I still have it. My image of what I am doing in space with my body from within never matches properly with my image of how I look from other's perspectives. It shows up mainly now when I try to partner dance. Can't be done.

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