As the self-defined Arts Czar of the Ozone office – I have a handmade sign that dentoes me as the “CZARTS” – I am in charge of finding or establishing venues to expand our student’s cultural boundaries. The Walton Arts Center has a wonderful tickets-for-nonprofits program, and partnering with them I sent fifty kids and fourteen of our volunteers to see Shrek the Musical on Halloween. I myself could not go but I was in raptures about how clever my idea was.
The next day, the directors who chaperoned told me that one of the show-stopping numbers was titled, “Let Your Freak Flag Fly” and as we are guiding young students through the moral decisions of life, and thusly “Freak Flags” are not something we want to encourage, I am to refer all my further event planning to my immediate superiors for consideration.
I couldn’t see Shrek because I had been conscripted as the DJ for Ozone’s other Halloween party, Streetfest, which was a community block part for east Springdale. Area families were treated to various carnival games, free food and many giveaways. An all around good time. My speakers were not so powerful; though my music was well-heard, my announcements were muffled and my spontaneous competitions were under-attended. I repeatedly offered shirts to the first kid who could take a picture with Gandalf, the Subway Sandwich, Captain America, an alien, et cetera. The same two boys went home with like four shirts a piece.
That very much informed the way I spoke. I kept welcoming people to Streetfest 2035 and announcing for people to act normal because we were being watched. No one ever commented, for good or ill. In fact, the only time I got results was at a juncture where I wish I had none.
Several families camped by the DJ stand to eat. With nothing else to do, I danced by myself and was often joined by the small children that waited for their parents to finish dinner. I had so many (three) kids do this that I was inspired with a blessed idea.
“ATTENTION!” I yelled into the microphone. “We are having a toddler dance competition at the DJ stand. So you think your toddler can dance? Why don’t you prove it!”
I smiled at my own cleverness and picked the next song, nearly forgetting what I said, much like most of my announcements. However, halfway through the next song I noticed not one but eight little two-year-old girls holding their mothers hands and staring at me.
“I, uh -” I tried to improvise. “LET’S DO THIS!”
What I noticed during the song was not so much the confused hoola-hooping the toddlers were attempting to associate with dance, but the stares of the mothers, focused on me and filled with expectation. They seemed to be saying, “This could be the break we’ve been waiting for.”
In the end, I had to disappoint them. I didn’t have any shirts small enough to give to a winner, if there was one. I think I would’ve picked the purple princess because she seemed to be most aware of what she was doing. But having nothing to give out, I was grasping at ghost straws. Tentatively, I took the microphone. “That was so awesome. I want you all to hold out your hand.” The girls did. “Now receive an imagination point!”
Needless to say, the parents left having lost a lot of respect for me.