Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Do the Old Woman"

There are two things that I really enjoy.

Humor of the "I just flew in from Chicago and boy are my arms tired" ilk and doing accents. This basic level of yuks is about on par with my expertise in actually sounding like someone from another part of the world but hey, I confessed to enjoying speaking with an accent, I didn't say that I was any good at it (although once in a while I surprise myself and pull it off - but I can never seem to repeat the magic).

There is also a third thing I enjoy. That is teaching. And when the three converge my classroom suddenly turns into a lounge act in the Catskills. I get on a roll and create characters on the spot. They all have their own personalities and ticks. And naturally they all speak with an accent. These 'performances' are encouraged by my students who laugh and giggle at every witty bon mot.

But sometimes the characters I create come back to haunt me.

One such creation came about on a slow, dreary Monday morning following an especially hectic and exhausting weekend. I was moving rather slowly. My thoughts were of slipping into my comfy bed after school and getting some rest. But there I was teaching. So to help keep myself awake and to add a touch of entertainment value I created "The Old Woman". For the life of me I do not know why it became a woman instead of a man - perhaps it was funnier at the moment.

This old woman spoke with a funny accent which I never did pinpoint. I just know it was not my usual speaking voice. She also moved really slowly and would fall asleep in the middle of a sentence. So there I was talking and nodding off. Each time I did this the laughing children would scream and tap me until I was awake. All this nonsense got me fired up and soon I was no longer dragging.

The old woman hung around for a bit as the students would ask me to "do the old woman" or other characters that I had come up with. I always happily obliged until the day my class was chosen to be observed by some important, hoity-toity visitors.

There I was in the middle of a well planned, stunningly executed lesson when I heard "do the old woman". Uh-oh! I shot the kids a 'not now' look and kept going. But they are slow to take the hint. Again, "do the old woman".

Realizing that I must address this I cleverly responded with "Oh, you mean the old man?" as I smile and look towards our visitors. They reply, "No, the old woman. Do the old woman."

OY.

They are blowing my cover. Here I am all proper and perfect and they want me to feign sleep and do some indeterminable accent. Oh, what the hell. I do it. We all laugh. The lesson is actually better. The students are engaged. They are learning and enjoying themselves. Everyone lightens up a bit and when the guests leave they shake my hand and smile. We all learned a lesson that day and mine was to just be myself.

But, I did add another character later that week. Can you guess?

Yes, an old man.

14 comments:

Mikey T said...

I can so picture these different characters coming out of you. Watching you get "fired up" is so entertaining. I remember so many occurences where your excitement takes over you and is contagious and you got me laughing without even knowing why. Your kids are so lucky!!

lettuce said...

hahaha, kids are so great!

so are you.

Salty Miss Jill said...

I think this needs to be on your next video post.
Do the old woman!

Anonymous said...

the kids got you!

Joy Keaton said...

As someone who has MUCH first-hand knowledge of the "travels through Europe" accents... let's just say I recently heard the new Brittney Spears British accent and... oh nevah mind dahling.

HEY! A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says: why the long face?

love ya honey, even with your accents and borscht-belt humor. ;)

Lynda said...

Hi Gary,

Just finished reading your Blog. Well as an observer of the elderly everyday,
I find them fascinating, funny and full of great stories. The elderly have much to share
both humor and wisdom. We just have to listen!

Have a Wonderful Night!

Love,

Lynda

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes of course, of course! Be yourself!!

Hey will you make a little vid of the old woman, post it?

Puh-leeeeeeeeeaaaasssssee???

Dumdad said...

What a great idea - a video of you doing The Old Woman! Go on, Gary, do The Old Woman, please! Oh go on!

Scot said...

OMG, what a great story. I find it funny (and I do it too) that we feel we have to be prim and propper for te higher ups. I'm glad you let them see the side of your teaching that allows the kids to interact and enjoy learning. Maybe the stuffed-shirt policy makers would be less dry in their recommendations if they see the humanity of the everyday environment.

J. David Zacko-Smith said...

Gary - you are the best!

Dumdad said...

Two awards await you at my blog.

Gary said...

Mikey - Crazy, huh? I consider myself lucky to have an audience so I can stop torturing my dear friends like you with my excessive energy and imagination. Thanks for saying you enjoy it!

Why thank you Letty! I am hoping that you can meet them in a few months yourself.

Salty - I think you started something with the video comment. :) However, I'll have to leave this one to the imagination. She comes out when I least expect it and I can never seem to force it. I should just keep a camera going 24/7.

Anon - I know. Don't you love it?

Joy - I think you have suffered the most with these accents and this brand of humor. I am sure there is a special place in heaven for folks like you. And, I love that joke!

Lynda - No disrespect intended. I do see the wisdom and humor. And I love the stories.

Reya - You ask so nice but, no. ;) Maybe in person.

Dumdad - Thanks for the awards. I love that I got a "Dummy". How cool is that!

Scot - I know, it is odd that we change it up sometimes to fit our notion of what someone expects to see instead of doing what we normally do. I do try to be myself in these situations but thought perhaps the Old Woman was stretching it a bit. Guess not.

JDZS - No, you are!

kimy said...

congrats on the dummy!!!

do the old woman, do the old woman.

the chorus has spoken!!!

the secret project is going beautifully!!!! I'm very excited. will email a sneak preview in a day or two!!

Gary said...

Kim - Oh, I am very thrilled. I can't wait to see. I sent you off something today (in advance). Thanks!

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