What Did You Say?
by Eric Miller
strange happened in Mrs. Applebees second
grade class one Monday morning which took the
curl right out of her striking, gray hair. Andy
McConnell kept telling her to shut up.
It was so unlike him, so out of character, and
just so off-the wall.
me, Andrew. Did you say what I thought you said?
up, he replied.
what is the matter with you? You know better than
to speak to me, or anyone, like that!.
up. he said again.
by the ear, Mrs. Applebee dragged him to the
principals office, where in answer to the
principals questions, Andrew kept repeating
his now familiar three word response. The
principal, beet red with rage, picked up the
phone and called his mother, who laughed
convulsively at what he had to say.
this funny?, the principal screamed, now
purple with rage.
very funny, indeed, Mrs. McConnell replied,
then, apparently the source of the problem lies
more with you than Andrew.
does, Mrs. McConnell admitted. Please
allow me to explain. You see, we took Andrew to
see my amateur theater groups production of
Mrs. McThing, a farce by Mary Coyle
Chase from the early 1950s. In this play, a
witch casts a spell over a boy that transforms
him from being very well-behaved to being very
pugnacious and inappropriate. The boy constantly
tells the adults around him to Aw, shut
up. I knew that Andrew was mesmerized by
this character, but I didnt realize that he
hadnt let go of his bond with him. I
apologize for what has happened, and I assure
that it will never happen again.
Mrs. McConnell called Mrs. Applebee to apologize
for Andrews behavior.
apology is necessary. Its the explanation
that was needed. Now that I understand the
context of everything, it is quite amusing.
an idea, Mrs. Applebee. What if my theater group
puts on a performance of the show at school, so
everyone can see it. After the show, we can have
a discussion about whats real, whats
not, and how to appropriately deal with the two.
And a few days
later, the show went on, and no one got a bigger
ovation than Andrew, who played the role on stage
with which he had been so enamored.
school opened the next day, the sounds of
Aw, shut up, reverberated throughout
the halls. All the teachers and staff were
outraged by the epidemic spread of the bad
behavior, but no one could turn the tide.
Amid the chaos,
Andrew McConnell got up from his desk, walked out
of the classroom, and walked into the school
office. He picked up the microphone for the
loudspeakers and spoke. This is Andrew
McConnell. Please listen to me. I will only say
this once, and I never want to hear it again. Aw,
You could hear
a pin drop, and you still can.