Sunday, May 31, 2009

Yankee Doodle was not dandy when he dealt with seals’ butts

Whoosh! We’ve gone from past to present to past again with these recent posts. Enough with the manuscript talk. Let’s get back to Michelle’s oh-so-weird/laughable childhood.

Well, if you insist . . .

I have been nostalgic over my school daze, er, days. The lunchtime at my elementary school seemed like a military camp’s mess hall. But what about the other periods?

Huh? I could talk about all the singing when not in music class.

This was during 2nd and 3rd grade. There were three home rooms for each, and those classrooms were found in one section of the building. So you would walk down the hallway into this round lobby with all the doors. Each morning during the reveille, er, before the first lessons, all the students winced at the squealing of wheels when the music teacher pushed the piano down the hall. Then the home room teachers herded the students into the lobby, circling the piano, as we rolled eyes.

First, we said the pledge:

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and unto the republic for which it stands
One nation, under God, indivisible
with liberty and justice for all . . .

No, I didn’t look up the words. I know it by heart along with the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Yes, we sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” song (with a musical accompaniment) right after saying the pledge of allegiance. Yet this wasn’t the only song we piped out, because it would be boring if we just sang the same one all the time.

Home on the Range
Yankee Doodle Dandy
Our Country Tis of Thee
Pop goes the Weasel

Why did we sing these songs before classes? Heck if I know. But we did, or at least we tried. When getting a bunch of seven and eight year olds to sing when we didn’t really want to, there were bound to be mistakes in the lyrics. And there was one song in particular that caused us the most trouble: Home on the Range

Home, home on the range
where the deer and the antelope play
when seldom is heard
a discouraging word
and the skies are not cloudy all day . . .

Seems weird, doesn’t it? No, I’m talking about the song itself. “ . . . when seldom is heard, a discouraging word?” What the crap is that supposed to mean? It made no sense to me then, and the lightbulb hasn’t switched on in making any sense now.

Well, when in doubt, improvise. We changed words. We ad-libbed. We ticked off the teachers to the point where they printed out the words for us to memorize. Big mistake.

Teacher: “Now class. It has come to our attentions that several of you are having problems with our morning songs.”

Duh . . . like not wanting to sing them.

Teacher: “So we will all take a moment to go over the words. Yes, Andy?”

Although this is a true story, all children’s names are fictional.

Andy: “There’s a mistake on my page. It’s suppose to be, seal bum.”

Rick: “Hee-hee. Seal’s bum.”

He passed gas, sending several girls shrieking at the smell.

Teacher: “Rick, excuse yourself. Andy, the word is not seal’s bum, it is seldom.”

Katie: “Are seals really dumb?”

Andy: “Of course they are. They’re sitting on the stove with the deer.”

Of course, the whole class knew a range was an oven.

George: “Me and Pop go deer hunting every year. But we don’t see any melons.”

We also mistook cantaloupes for antelopes.

Teacher: “No, class. A range is a large open space of land, like a field. Antelopes are animals that look like deer but are a much smaller.”

George: “I still never see any when hunting.”

Miss Prissy raised her hand. Everyone has had a Miss Prissy in their class - the one who believed herself smarter than everyone and was the teacher’s pet.

Miss Prissy: “Deer and antelope don’t live in the same place. They all live on different continents.”

George: “Then how come they’re playing together in the song?”

Andy: “Maybe they’re dumb like the seals. Bet the cougars eat them all.”

Teacher: “Cougars?”

Andy: “It says, a cougar-eating world.”

Teacher: “No . . . no . . . that’s, a discourag–“

Someone shouted: “What’s a cougar?”

Miss Prissy raised her hand, but Andy spoke up first.

Andy: “They’re giant cats, like lions.”

Andy stuck out his tongue at Miss Prissy who huffed and turned her head away.

Katie: “But how can they all play together if they live in different places?”

The class turned to look at Miss Prissy. She closed her eyes and thought really hard.

Miss Prissy: “Maybe the range is like a giant zoo. They have animals from all over the world.”

Class: “Ohhhh!”

Andy: “Cougars are still going to eat them.”

Rick: “Not if the seals fart. Then they’ll be too stinky.”

He passes gas again.

Katie: “So the song is, ‘Home, home in the zoo . . . where the deer and the melons play . . . when dumb seal’s bum is heard . . . a cougar-eating world . . . and the skies are not cloudy all day.’ Right?”

George: “What do seals taste like? Are they like deer?”


The class glared at her, wondering why she interrupted our National Geographic moment.

Teacher: “Let’s move onto another song. Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

Andy: “He’s weird. He doodles with mac-n-cheese in his hat.”

Another hearty discussion ensued.

Sufficed to say, the teacher threatened to give us extra assignments if we didn’t get the words right. We did our best, even though “Rick” still let loose a fart at every mention of the word, “seldom.”


  1. LOL! Nice one, blogpal...

  2. jinksy: Truly, I don't know what was up with my mind when I wrote this one...

  3. Okay, the title pulled me in and the story did not disappoint. I laughed through the whole thing. Thanks for starting my day off with a smile!

  4. The dialogue between the kids and the teacher is somewhat similar to many conversations we have here with Maya now except her response to everything we say is generally just a one-word type event -"Why?"
    And more and more, our responses are becoming just "Because!"

  5. I always had questions about the pledge, specifically, why even mention that God is "invisible" when we already know that?

  6. You not only got the songs wrong, you got the pledge wrong. I know because my eight year old nephew taught me. "I pledge allegiance to the fags of the Noonited States of America..." I forget the rest.

    No, I'm not making this up. He really did say it this way, and I really have forgotten the rest (although it was awfully funny). It's not my fault if it was a long time ago, and I'm old and can't remember things anymore. No, no, I don't hate homosexuals. It's just that my nephew didn't know what they were, you see. I guess he had heard the word, and he didn't think about anyone pledging TO a flag, so he thought the correct word must be fag. I mean, talking to a flag! Come on. I wouldn't have thought of it either.

  7. Funny girl: Yes, innocence can be something in a mind so young - and funny.

    Theresa: Glad to oblige!

    Jeni: Yikes! The kids dreaded "Why?" question. And nothing ever appeases them.

    Chris: Because the government likes stating the obvious.

    Snowbrush: You know, your nephew does make a valid point. Flag talking does seem strange since I never heard one talk back. The stories it could tell though...

  8. Good story. Like a good redneck story, you can't make this stuff up. You are right about the govt. They have to tell themselves how good they are, cause they do not hear it from us. Kids are the greatest.
    Coach O

  9. Your poor teacher! Though the school should have known better than to make children sing songs they dont want too...

  10. Followed you over from Chris's blog! Loved the blast from the past Nice to meet you, Michelle!

  11. I couldn't imagine what story was about to unfold after reading that title. LOL Good one Michelle. It brought back memories of singing those same songs in my elementary school.

  12. Coach O: Kids are the best. You just can't get better, or funnier, material except from them.

    Skyeblu: This was one strange school. But what else could they have done. It was small, so there wasn't a lot of funding for extracurricular activities. They had to do something to break up the monotony.

    laughingwolf: hee-hee! ;P

    Kimmirich: Nice to meet you too! Thanks for the blog kudos, and thanks for stopping by!

    Ruth: I was going to title it, "Deer and seals and cougars, OH MY!" But I thought it might be too strange so I went ahead with the other one.

  13. Oh, the plight of teachers! (But I'm sure you were an angel, right?) :)

  14. Angie: Ahem... I was the good kid. *snicker* I had to be since whenever anyone wanted to get married, they had me be the minister because I knew the words for the wedding vows.

    I guess that sorta explains the current job.

  15. I just read through all the comments and am incredulous no one explained the troublesome "where seldom is heard/ a discouraging word" bit!

    It's because we're all so danged POSITIVE out here on the range, yanno? We seldom utter discouraging words to anyone! (Yeah. Right. Sure.)

    Nice post, Michelle. I can just SEE you and your classmates around that piano. Srsly.

  16. Have I told you lately that I love you? If not, consider it having been said.

    Reminds me of one of my favorite jokes (as most things do.)

    Recent young immigrant from Mexico is attending his first baseball game in the United States. He is asked afterward if he enjoyed the experience. He says he enjoyed it very much. As a matter of fact, he was amazed that everybody knew his name and was worried about his view of the field and sang a song to him about it.

    This puzzled the people asking the questions. They asked him what was sung. So, he sang it for them.

    "Jose, can you see?"


  17. Buck: I'll buy that. It's a nice explanation, and I'm all for niceness. And believe me, I wish I could get the memory out of my head.

    Suldog: No, you haven't said it lately. And it will make me smile all day now. Thank you!

    "Jose, can you see?" Ah hahaha! Good one! I never heard it before.



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