So, here I am cleaning out my storage closet and I happen upon a box of high school pictures. One picture in particular captures my attention…
I’m a sophomore wearing green face makeup, dressed as a gansta version of the dragon in Beowulf. My teacher, a very proper and straightforward English teacher, had divided the class into groups earlier in the semester. “Your end of the year project will be a performance of Beowulf. Your task is to review the material and provide a summary to the class, based on your understanding of the literature.”
Unfortunately for the teacher, she had no idea what she was in for.
The day of the group performances had arrived. My three group members and I watched each group give their renditions of the poem. Each group basically gave a very dry interpretation, reading summarized parts as they stood in front of the room.
“Crystal, Angela, Angie, Madeeha! Ladies, you’re up next!”
The four of us ran into the hallway and returned, one minute later, in full costume. My homemade commando-dragon outfit made me look like a cross between Eureeka’s Castle’s Magellan and Ice Cube circa 1991.
If my teacher was surprised by the outfits, she was certain to be shocked by what happened next…
Angela (Beowulf) began acting out (not simply reading) her scene with the first monster (Angie). Just as the monster was slayed, the instrumental of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive blared through the room. All of a sudden, the slayed monster began singing a disco remix of the song with lyrics about Beowulf.
The teacher’s jaw dropped. She looked irritated, confused and anything but amused. Our classmates were equally stunned. No doubt, they thought we had completely lost it.
Not to be dissuaded by the teacher’s obvious displeasure, the first monster danced away as she concluded her verse. Beowulf proceeded to slay the second monster, classmate Madeeha, who then also sang a verse. However, this monster had a little more soul and incorporated disco moves.
I was the final monster, the feared dragon. My reenactment lasted longer than the first two. I swept in on Angela (Beowulf) and tried to claw her, but in the end, I was no match for her sword. The then-familiar disco instrumental began to blare. Not only did I sing my verse, I invited the first two monsters to sing with me. As it came to a close, I began to do the cabbage patch and dance around the entire classroom with my seated classmates who, by this time, were laughing uncontrollably.
The music ended. Silence fell over the room. Our English teacher glared at us. “That was NOT what I had in mind. But… you definitely put the most effort into your presentation and were the most original, even writing song lyrics. Your group will receive the highest score, one hundred. Now, sit down.”
I learned something that day: If you’re not afraid to fail and look silly, you are more likely to get the reward. I constantly incorporate this lesson in my presentations and business dealings. How can you embrace your inner nut?