A Different Way Of Thinking

Taz05

source // wikipedia

Tuesday, 14 October, 2014

Taipei, Taiwan

At my last school, – you know, the place that hired the potential murderer and the handsome bloke with the blazer – I was given a gift. That present was my co-teacher, Maggie. Her personality fascinates me, her decision-making differs from anybody I’ve ever known. You could say she’s very odd, but then what’s normal?

She just makes really unconventional choices, and as comedic writer it has pained me not to share her tales – I previously decided that it would be unprofessional to create a piece on some of my colleagues peculiar characteristic traits. So, agonisingly kept them to myself.

But, as I don’t work there anymore – this one is Maggie’s blog.

I hope this one doesn’t come across as bitchy, her antics just really inspired me to write.

As I’ve previously mentioned, the teachers were required to write a show for the kids to perform for their parents – Maggie put together an adaptation of ‘Finding Nemo’. If you’re unfamiliar with the film, the cute little fish, Nemo, gets lost and captured by a scuba diver. Nemo’s father then spends the rest of the movie trying to find his son.

She decided that she was the best fit for the character of ‘Nemo’. That’s right, a thirty-five year old woman was running around stage declaring she’s lost. As her father, played by a seven year old boy, tried to find her. Imagine being one of the parents watching that horror show.

She even forgot her lines at one point (she had given herself the most to learn and was in most scenes) so looked to Jerry for help, who mouthed the next words to her – much like you see a caring mother do for their child. She couldn’t make it out though, and without subtlety shouted, “What?”

That made all the parents look over at Jerry, who in turn went bright red. It was such a train-wreck.

Best of all, she hadn’t written enough characters. Therefore, she had to write in a piece of coral last minute and give it two sentences, so that all the students would have a part. Apparently, there were no other options.

Her role wasn’t quite done at playing the lead character, either. She, with the help of Jerry, had choreographed a dance for each of the three shows she had written – and yep, she was the focus figure in each of them. In fact, in two out of three of them she was the centrepiece of the performance – but hey, where else are you going to put Nemo?

Her moves were somewhat clumpy and slow, and to be frank, she was most definitely the weak link in most of the dances. However, she was living out her dream – plus, it’s easy to look beyond the odd mistake when you consider how sensational her three minute air guitar solo was. The parents definitely got the epic performance they didn’t even know they wanted, that is for sure.

You’ll often hear stories of pushy adults that apply heavy pressure onto their kids to make it into industries that they, themselves, failed to get into as children. I guess they didn’t realise that instead of sending their kids to acting school at two years old, they could have just got a job as a teacher and personally had a second bite at being a superstar.

While she wasn’t too shy to display a rock star display for the parents at the PTA, she only gave them a snippet of her skills – her class of four year olds get to see the best of her showmanship. However, rarely in the form of acting or dancing. These kids get to witness the depths of her vocal range at around ten each morning – as she attempts to convert nursery rhymes into rock anthems.

She sings ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ like Whitney Houston sang ‘I Will Always Love You’.

It’s really difficult to translate her performance into text, but here is my best effort – “Innnnccceee-eee-yyyeeeyyy-yyyeeehh wi-i-i-ncccceeeeeey-ooooooohhh spiii-yiyyyiiii-iddeeeee-ee-eerrr.”

I was always teaching at the time of her singing performances. Thus, I can’t really comment on the reaction within her classroom. Although, I assume the young kids that spend most of their free-time picking their noses and putting crayons into their ears, struggled to keep up with the power ballad / nursery rhyme crossover.

Wonderfully, she was more than willing to showcase her talents on request – which gave me the perfect opportunity to set up my friend.

My other co-worker, Richard, is not much of a birthday person, and kept his birthday a secret. In fact, nobody in the office knew that it was his birthday except me (thanks, Facebook).

I told Maggie it was his birthday, and asked her to sing him a song – she didn’t need much prompting. There and then, in the reception area, she burst into the usual ‘Happy Birthday’ song – only with a range of vocal most people don’t challenge themselves to use when wishing one a happy birthday.

I walked away within her first verse (oh yeah, it was some sort of extended version), leaving her awkwardly looking as though she was serenading her co-teacher in full view of students and parents – the faces of bewilderment were evident all around the room.

It’s that lack of self-awareness that makes her so intriguing though.

Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more talent left within the veins of this woman, I am about to blow your mind, and let you into a little secret – Maggie is also a poet!

We were discussing music one day, which progressed onto rap, and then eventually poetry.

Maggie used to write poems in college, and apparently, takes her book or rhymes with her everywhere – including all the way to Taiwan. She brought her book of poems into school the next day to honour us with a reading.

Sadly, nobody other than myself was in the office yet. So, as I sat there at 8am, tired, eating my breakfast, and trying to put together a last minute lesson plan; I had a woman alongside me very animatedly reading rather depressing poems about cruelty and death.

During one of the six poems she read, her words were so powerful that her eyes started to water – so, I was now sat eating a banana while watching a co-worker cry. What a way to start a Tuesday!

Sadly, when I left the school behind last week, that also signalled the end of my time working with Maggie, as she kind of came as a package deal – yes, she’s peculiar, but normal is boring. I really hope she never changes.

She’s a great teacher, but not just to the students – she also taught me a very valuable lesson too. If it wasn’t for Maggie, I would have been unaware that you are never too old to play the role of a child fish.

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