Oh, Noooo

Look, the past is in the past for a reason, you know?   But I got a big old heaping helping of piping hot High School Casserole over the weekend.

One of my classmates posted a video on social media - about an hour and a half long - of clips from all the plays we put on during the 1990-1991 school year.  My sophomore year - and honestly, my best year, in terms of just quality of opportunities, self-esteem, awards, and recognition. 

I got cast as a lead in the first play - an African American folktale-ish play for kids...sort of.  It was very minimalist.  Like there were three named characters and a ten person chorus who also made up the set pieces.  Lots of interpretive movement.

I played the mother, a kid named Landon was my "son" Wiley, and the villain - a character named The Hairy Man.

It was a fun time.  We had a good time. But there might have been some cultural appropriation.  And by might have been, I'll say definitely was.  Even without seeing that video, if you had brought up the play to me, I would have cringed.  It's one of the many microagressions I think about when I lay awake at night.  That and playing Bloody Mary - a Tonkinese woman - in my 7th Grade musical. And getting married in a civil war era cotton mill.  So, you know - I won't be running for office.

The video, being 30 years old, isn't the best  -  and it's hard to hear - well, except when I'm playing the mother - my projection is epic.  I sound like her:

Sit down and shut up - we're runnin' laaaaaaaaate!

Super loud, and with an accent that sounds nothing like my own.  And kind of mean.

After that was a brief clip of some one act plays we did later that year - I played an elderly Irish woman.  Which, you know - was what it was.  There's about 30 seconds of me with gray hair and a basket of apples. I was wearing my grandmother's glasses and I look tiny on that stage.

The third and final time I appear on the video is at the very end - for like 2 seconds at a cast party or gathering after a play.  I am wearing a large, black felt hat and giant earrings.  I look, in my mind, like me - one of the best versions.  I look happy.  I spend a lot of the first part of that year nursing a broken heart.  In looking back on it, how ridiculous was that?  So ridiculous.

But I was happy as a clam, it turns out.

Anyway - the fact that my classmate posted the video is weird enough.

But it gets weirder.

Our drama teacher at the time was Mr. G.  Some time in the early 2000s, Mr. G was teaching at another school and was found having an inappropriate relationship with a student.  Then another student came forward and said, "Yeah, same."  So, Mr. G went to jail.

Mr. G is the one who gave our classmate the tape recently.  Now, the classmate in question is male, the students were both female.

I had heard about Mr. G at some point in last few years, and my immediate though was, "Yep, that's not surprising."  Mr. G was a former student of my high school, and it's like he was coming back to relive his glory days.   He was... inappropriate back then.  I kind of thought it at the time - but I never really put a name to it.  I would not have been of interest to him.  He liked pretty, fluffy ingenues.  I was a character actress, and a little too coarse.  I think he appreciated me as a person, but I would not have piqued his interest.  And that's a GOOD THING.

So, the classmate tagged everyone he could that was in the video - and I stumbled onto it because I was tagged.  And I watched it, and made a comment, "good to see everyone", etc.

But then, I got a text from one of the other tagged people checking in - we'll call him DB.  He wanted to know if I had heard about Mr. G.  I said I had, and we both talked about how the video seems creepy in light of it all, and that posting and tagging people wasn't necessarily the greatest. 

DB was, and is one of my favorites from that era.  He was nice to me - a senior, my sister's age - in her homeroom, even.  So, you know - we have kept in touch.  We decided we should talk more, and about happier things.  So that came of it, and is good.  Several of the girls tagged have posted and we have given each other heaps of affirmation - so that's good too.

If I'm being completely honest, it was good to see 1990 era Allison.  She looked silly and energized and sublime.  I am so proud of her and all she has become.  She could have never known that at age 49, she'd come back and check in, thoroughly satisfied.

She turned out just fine - and a lot more culturally sensitive.  Seriously.



Christopher said…
I remember you mentioning Mr. G previously and, well, about the best that can be said is the cultural appropriation wasn't the worst thing about your time in the theater.
I'm glad you were happy, though, and that things have worked out, especially reconnecting with DB. I was just thinking I need to connect more with an old high school friend--we still communicate through Facebook. Maybe it's something about the time of year. The past may be past but this seems like a transitional time when we can look back and forward.