- Witness reenactments of instructions from the teacher. “Chase the butterfly! Catch the butterfly.” “He says, ‘Doy si doy’ instead of do si do!” My room used to be the typing room back in the day, so it has a raised platform where the teacher’s desk used to be. When stuff like this breaks out I always say, “I have a stage over there. Bust a move.” It usually takes a bit of coaxing from the studio audience, but for the past week, we’ve had a show almost every day. My fave line from the crowd: “The catch-the-butterfly move seems so mean. If you clap your hands like that you would kill the butterfly. Maybe he should say, ‘Kill the butterfly!'”
- Hear of fake handholding. “OMG. We were supposed to doy si doy, and my partner just pretended to take my hand. Mr. P even said not to do that!”
- Are told how “weird” everything was. Square dancing, disco line dancing, “freestyle.” All weird. They might have a point actually.
But one day during this unit, a bunch of Homies were singing Y-M-C-A. You know how it is. It’s always just the “…It’s fun to stay @ the Y M C A…” part because that’s all they know. (A few at least get the “Young man,” but it’s a precious few, and they mumble after that.) Anyway… later in the year, when we read “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes, it would have been an extra credit question, but this year they beat me to it and asked it themselves.
“What does YMCA stand for?”
Ok. So. In the 20+ years I have taught “Theme for English B” and offered that question for extra credit, a decent percentage of kids have known the answer. Let’s say 20%. But the remaining 80% have had little or no reaction as I explained the answer.
Oh, the youth of today.
“Young Men’s Christian Association.”
Ok. So. Let me prepare you for the reaction. Your humble reporter was caught COMPLETELY off-guard. Let’s just pretend that there WASN’T A SINGLE ONE who had any clue. Let us further speculate that ALL of them might be a TAD surprised. Visualize for me because I obviously didn’t.
It was as one voice. A roar, a cry for knowledge, that blew back my hair.
“NOOOOO WAAAAAY! (I confirm the information.) WHAT? (One more time.) NOOOOO WAAAAAY!!!!”
“Really? None of you has heard that?” So like I usually do, I explain some background about “staying at the Y.” They are still having trouble wrapping their heads around it.
Then one has to ask.
“Why would they say it’s fun to stay there?”
“Have you looked at a picture of The Village People?”
“Ask your mom.”