Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Our Class Is Going Where?

Over the years, I've heard about some really nifty class trips taken by the kids of my friends. Washington DC, Canada, Europe.

Me? I went to Manhattan. Twice. On two of the perhaps most miscalculated excursions for seventh or eighth graders.

I had a music teacher, Mr. Ferraro, who liked to indoctrinate us all in the various forms of musical presentations. At Christmas time, we dug into "Amahl and the Night Visitors" for a while. And, for some reason, he loved to get us wrapped up with Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. Remembering now a little bit more about Mr. Ferraro, I probably should not have been surprised by that.

And then he tried to bring us into the world of opera.

He got us a special deal to go down to the Metropolitan Opera in Lincoln Center for a Wednesday matinee performance of Mozart's "The Magic Flute." For weeks before, we took entire classes to listen to the music and read the libretto. Every nuance of the story was studied and digested. God help us, we were going to get cultured.

Except Mr. Ferraro had goofed. He had acted so quickly on that great deal of tickets he had neglected to note that this afternoon's performance of "The Magic Flute" would be done in German. 

"Die Zauberflote."


All the English libretto advance work went up in flames as the first word was sung by somebody who might as well have been reading us "Mein Kampf." The scene in our balcony turned ugly very quickly. Bic pens were hallowed out to be used for spitballs. Mr. Ferraro got the brunt of the spit-laden wads. Never before had Lincoln Center been the scene of such a battle. Three hours of singing the word "schnitzel" over and over seemed longer and more deadly than the Battle of the Bulge.

My class trip two years later wouldn't be much better. It was English class taught by Miss Dennis, a nasty bit of business who also loved to cram some Broadway dramas down our windpipes. Remembering now a little bit more about Miss Dennis, I also should not have been surprised. Nevertheless, she wanted to bring us to the "theatrah" and did so by scoring a great deal on tickets to a Wednesday matinee performance of Joseph Heller's "We Bombed in New Haven" and it bombed in New York as well. This would be my first ever Broadway show. It is miraculous that it was not my last.

Perhaps this was a play that Miss Dennis desperately wanted to see. Because, had she done a little homework, she would have realized that this was not one suited for a bunch of thirteen-year-olds who were still being challenged by last night's episode of "I Dream of Jeannie." I think this was an anti-war piece. Or existential? Or about saving an endangered mule? We had no clue. This thing was so far over our heads, most of us wound up in catatonic states high up in the balcony of the Ambassador Theater. With Bic pens not available, we resorted to another teen-age pastime: snoring. I've done some research and I see that this play starred Jason Robards Jr., Diana Sands, and Ron Liebman. 

Unless they were appearing on the back of my eyelids that afternoon, I never saw any of them.

The yellow school bus never looked more inviting than on the trip home from these two disasters.

Dinner last night:  Orange beef from Panda Express.

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