Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Monroe
Elementary Kindergarten Halloween pageant!

Children are so damned cute I can't contain myself sometimes.

They marched into the classroom in a line of cute-ness. Just by looking at their costumes I could tell which kids have rich parents, which kids have parent who love them, and which kids are gonna grow up to lead militia groups. This year's most popular costume is the firefighter, followed closely by the Britney Spears.

Their teacher, Mrs. Johnson, lined them up and they took a bow. The crowd went wild. Once the applause died down, Mrs. Johnson seated herself on the piano bench said, “Ready, go,” and led the children into “The Ghost of John,” a terrifying composition in the dorian mode. The subject matter is almost too terrifying to reprint: A ghost walks the street WITHOUT ANY SKIN.

Other than the lyrical content, the song didn't really move me. Mrs. Johnson, the pianist, was unsteady. The tempo dragged she had trouble with the difficult key of A. Not only that but she was dropping beats left and right. With this chalky foundation, the song was doomed to begin with. But the kids weren't any help with their off-key warbling. None of them had their parts down. They seemed to think they could hide behind their masks.

At the song's completion, the parents in the audience applauded and cheered. I did not stoop to that level.

The kids marched around the room with their sacks and costumes, begging for candy. Then they lined up again and did a song from the film “Nightmare Before Christmas”. The only words the kids remembered were, “This is Halloween. This is Halloween. Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!” At the end of the song the kids all jumped up in the air and shouted “BOO!” But it was poorly choreographed and several of the performers missed the cue.

Two more songs followed with similar results. A poor performance followed by parental applause and the handing out of candy to the children as if nothing were wrong.

Thankfully, the concert ended.

I fought through the crowd of admirers after the show and asked one of the kids, “How did you feel about the gig? You looked a little unsteady up there.”

He replied, “Do you have any candy?”

“No,” I said, “Strangers aren't supposed to give candy to children.”

“Bye,” said the kid as he ran off towards some sweet thing.

I stole some chocolate from an unattended sack and waved it a little girl. “You want some candy?”

“Yes yes yes yes!” She said, jumping and smiling. She was missing her two front teeth.

“First you gotta answer a couple questions.”

“Okay.”

“You seemed a little nervous tonight. What was it?”

“See that boy over there?” she said, pointing to Jar Jar Binks, “He thinks you're stupid.”

“Nice.”

“Wedding rice.”

“One more question.”

“No.”

“Please.”

“Say Cheese.”

“Cheese.”

“You're a tease.”

“What kind of exercises do you use to warm up your voice?”

“No, YOU use breathing exercises to warm up your boice!” She bounded off like a gazelle.

“Thanks for the interview.”

There you have it. The scariest thing I've seen this Halloween is the Monroe elementary school kindergarten pageant. With this kind of instruction and unconditional encouragement, these kids will never blossom into their full musical potential. They'll trundle through life, warbling in the wrong key, stumbling over their choreography, never realizing what asses they are. Whose fault? Parents and teachers, yes. But the true blame lies with the kids. Where's the pride? Where is the pride?

--Strapping Danforth, October, 2001

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