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Son, I’ve Made My Life Out of Readin’ People’s Faces, and You Don’t Know What the Heck I’m Talking About

kennyrogers_thegambler_h

To this day, probably the scariest two words you can say to me are, “Talent Show.”

“Hey Mom, guess what? I’m going to be in the 5th Grade Talent Show,” my daughter announced the other day.

Oh crap.

“Really? Um, have I mentioned what happened when I was in my 5th grade talent show?” I asked.

Because it’s all about me.

“No-o-o.”

“Well, I was with two other girls, and we were going to sing The Gambler, and I promised I would learn all of the words but I didn’t. And I stood there like an idiot, making up words to everything but the chorus, and completely embarrassed myself. In front of the biggest crush I ever had.”

“O-o-kay.”

“So, what are you doing for the show?”

“Singing.”

“What song?”

“A Taylor Swift song.”

“Do you know the words?”

“Just the chorus.”

“That’s exactly how much I knew of The Gambler,” I said with a raised eyebrow.

“Okay, Mom.”

I was pretty sure where this was leading, and I thought maybe nurture (or lack of it) could bypass nature, but a feeling of doom settled in my stomach.

This was going to be The Gambler all over again. The Circle of Humiliation following its inevitable path.

But it turned out that she changed her mind. She is now doing a skit with her friends.  Which could still lead to embarrassment – but it will not be a musical one at least.

That, of course, is not the end of the story.

After school yesterday I ran across one of my students sobbing uncontrollably.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“It’s Lyric Check Day for the talent show, and I forgot to bring my song,” he sobbed.

“Well that shouldn’t be a problem,” I said. “Tell me the song, and we can go print it out real quick.”

The Gambler,” he choked.

Wow.  It really is all about me, I thought in amazement.

“Are. You. Kidding?!!!” I exclaimed. Probably not the best way to calm down a hysterical kid.

I sang that when I was your age!” He looked at me doubtfully.

I decided not to relate the whole mortification in front of my possible future husband portion of the story.

“Let’s go get that printed out,” I said.

I realized what was going on. This was my chance. To redeem myself, to console this poor boy, to make a difference, to be a hero.  TO BREAK THE CYCLE.  We went to to the computer lab, and I pulled up the song.

He peered at the screen through his tears.

“That’s not it,” he said, somewhat hesitantly.

“Are you sure? You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to run,” I belted out. “By Kenny Rogers?”

“Who’s that? What are you talking about?”  The tears had dried up.  My singing has that effect on people.

“What are you talking about? Who do you think sings The Gambler?”

“Uh, Fun?”

So, sure. That’s who sings it. And why he looked at me so doubtfully when I announced I sang it at my talent show. Before “Fun” was even born.

And the Humiliation comes full Circle.

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