Breaking on through, Gangnam Style


As I have mentioned, I do not like getting up in front of groups of people. I stress and fret about it for days or even weeks beforehand. Every year during the Christmas assembly our staff puts on a little skit for students. They do “The Twelve Days of Christmas” or “The Voice.” The skits are great, and the kids think it’s hilarious…what’s not to like about teachers dressing up like chickens or wearing flippers and scuba masks and singing like drunken sailors? This year we decided to do “Dancing With the Stars.” I have always run like the plague when it comes to the Christmas assembly. My self-consciousness just gets the best of me.

This year, however, there was no escape. The day of the assembly, our literature teacher came limping up to me, and I just knew she was going to ask me to dance with her  “Gangnam Style” group. She had just had full-on knee surgery in the fall to the point where she was out of school for a month, came back in a wheelchair for a few weeks, and then hobbled around on crutches for another few weeks. How could I possibly say no to her? Besides, there was also my family to consider. We were probably the last people on the planet (with the exception of our friends who live in Cameroon) to see “Gangnam Style.” For weeks, we’d watch it every day and laugh hysterically while we tried to lasso our poor dog. We even tried a tutorial with our friends on Thanksgiving after eating pounds of turkey, and those steps are NOT easy!

It was inevitable that this year I would have to shame myself in front of hundreds of junior high kids. So I ran home on my prep and grabbed the appropriate garb. We practiced during lunch that day, just hours before our big performance. I am definitely no dancer, so luckily one teacher had a voice that carried and would call out the steps. It brought me back to my step aerobic days..I was fine if I could just focus on Leslie’s feet.

Right before our skit, as all of my fellow teacher contestants gathered, there was a lot of nervous excitement. I muttered something like, “I can’t believe I agreed to this, “ and Leslie, who in addition to “Gangnam Style” was also performing a solo interpretive dance while holding a huge cardboard star, said, “I LIVE for this day! This is my favorite day of the whole year!” Meanwhile, my friend Dave, our new art teacher, was wearing a hazmat suit and was preparing for a solo breakdance to house music while hurling glowsticks into the crowd. That right there is the difference between an introvert and an extrovert.

When our distinctive Gangnam Style music boomed into the gym, twenty of us, clad in sunglasses, white shirts and ties, ran out onto the basketball court and jumped up and down like a bunch of totally insane people. We were insane, but I realized in that moment that I’d so much rather trip over myself in front of all these kids and make a complete fool of myself than try to actually teach my classes something the day before Christmas vacation!

And I got through it by staring intently at Leslie’s feet the whole time, keeping some semblance of the beat. Later on, my students patted me on the shoulder and said, “You did good, Mrs. Robbins. Your group should have won.” It was very sweet though I wondered if they just felt really sorry for all of us leaping around on our faux horses and trying to lasso invisible things.

My children didn’t know until that day that I had rocked it Gangnam Style, and they thought it was pretty great. That made it worth it, too.

I will not be quitting my day job or running off and taking dance lessons any time soon. It’s just one of those life lessons that I already know but was in need of is good to totally embarrass yourself on occasion! I think that I am in for next year’s assembly..unless it involves any kind of singing. It might have even been one of my favorite days of this year.