Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day


Ahhhh. The fragrance of apple blossoms takes me back, back, back. . .

May Day the Spring celebration (not to be confused with Mayday the distress call which has nothing to do with a particular month but rather is from the French, venez m'aider meaning "come help me") brings to mind The Slab.

In my elementary school days we acknowledged the change of season with something called the May Fete. The May Fete was a sort of pagan ritual created by PTA mothers to accomplish two things--torture of children and fundraising. There was also some seamstressing involved--we all had to dress alike. It took place on The Slab.

The Slab was, simply, a slab. Our brand spanking new elementary school built to handle the booming baby numbers was fully equipped with cutting edge technology of the day--windows that opened, big fans, chalkboards that wrapped around two sides of the room, and in the midst of the play ground (open grassy areas), a 30 by 50 foot concrete slab. The Slab was used for recess when rainy season turned the grassy areas to mud, and for the grande promenade and terpsichorean feats of May Fete, accompanied by a scratchy record playing "It's a Treat to Beat Your Feet on the Mississippi Mud" over the pa system.

All I remember is that the girls were required to wear silly costumes sewn frantically by their mothers from lots of specific cloth that had been purchased in bulk from the local fabric store, and the boys always got away with wearing jeans and a white shirt.

Dance was a foreign and forbidden activity to me. My strict Southern Baptist raising did not allow certain activities and dance was at the top of the list. But my parents had no problem at all with dressing me up in some absurd costume and watching me prance painfully across The Slab, holding my partner's hand. This was before the days of sex education in Preschool, when boys and girls held a healthy disdain for each other and found nothing in common until about the 7th grade.

The greatest fear of the time was that your partner(we were divided up into couples, eewww!) would not make the Dancing with the Stars cut and you would have a second level of humiliation piled upon you. The first level was having to wear that stupid costume, the second, having to touch the opposite sex. (Eewwww!)

I wish I could provide you with some highly hilarious disaster that happened, but the combined trauma of wearing flouncy skirts held in place by elastic, holding an icky boy's hand and praying he wouldn't step on my toes has caused temporary amnesia. My therapist is working on it, though.

(Perhaps May Day the celebration and Mayday the distress call do have more in common than I thought.)