Me in the front. Poland 1988

Me in the front. Poland 1988


“She doesn’t know any English, and yet she can answer that question,”


My best friend had said to me after class. She looked at me accusingly as if I did something really bad. She was talking about a new girl from China who she automatically had made friends with. The new girl didn’t know much English, but even she knew the difference between a clarinet and a oboe.


The music room was bright, stuffy, and old. There was a silence in that room. It was the age of the classroom. How many of us had sat here before?


This was not music. I never felt it was. It was a drill, like a fire drill. My hands would sweat and my heart would race as the four eyed witch, with dirty blond hair, and a weak wrinkly body, stared at us like a search light. She always tried to slip us one of her random questions about music or rather something vaguely related.


It was common that we were always made aware that we were lucky because everyone else in history was not.


Slavery was a topic we heard a lot in this class. She liked to make sure we understood the slave songs. They weren’t pleasant though. The slaves would call out across the fences as they worked in the fields. They were not happy songs.


I had to learn the notes. Everyone had paper and was filling things in the lines. I put the dots in the music sheet randomly. I didn’t see the point of it, but I was nervious.


“You should know this you were here last year. You have no excuse,”


The teacher had told me with fire in her eyes. She was a skinny old woman with floppy ears that stretched even more when she wore large earrings. She didn’t like me very much because I took a pencil once and I lightly tapped the keys of the piano with it. She told me the keys would damage and almost had smoke in her ears when I smiled innocently before I knew she wasn’t joking. I must have learned more about what not to do then songs to sing.


She did teach us a little stupid song with a female deer in it.


Doe, a deer, a female deer,

Ray a drop of golden sun,

Me, a name I call myself,


But, I had no idea what was a Ray, and I wondered why a female deer was different from a regular deer.


We were in a half a circle in the music room and we were singing a song called, Lollipop.


The song had reminded me of candy, pink dresses, and glitter. But, it was not my song, it was her’s.


“Do you like my voice?” she had asked. The girl had asked him, and I did not like the question. She asked a boy I liked. I could not say anything, but I was embarrassed for her confidence. He must have felt the same. He smiled coyly even though he nodded.


I’m not sure where he came from or how long he stayed, but I only liked Mr. Bear. He would substitute for another teacher and sing with us. The songs reminded me of summer because I did not have to learn anything. I sat in my seat and didn’t even feel it. I didn’t feel the room or the eyes of the students on my shoulders who knew I didn’t know it was a boa.


There was music. Mr. Bear played the piano longer then a few seconds, and he never asked us about anything.


He would smile and sing about ducks.