The Shindig

The Shindig
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I knew the value of being in junior high school. I think most of the kids who lived on my street were the same as me, taking it as one of the many changes in life that inevitable. I was aware that junior high school didn’t mean I was becoming an adult. I was grounded in the reality of still being a kid despite the small changes happening to my body.

Yet, there were some challenges that I had to come to terms with. There was the walk to school, which was longer (1 ½ miles) and required crossing a major six-lane boulevard with turn lanes at each large intersection. For the first time, I was given homework that took more that fifteen minutes to complete. There weren’t multiple subjects per teacher. Each instructor had his/her own specialty in subjects. This meant that taking seven classes each day required seven different teachers.

My first year at Merrill Junior High School is still a blur. I did all right in my classes, but I was in a constant state of confusion that year. Other things were going on in my life at home that were equally turbulent.

Although the turmoil got worse at home, life in junior high school became enjoyable by the eighth grade. There seemed to be a private joke running around in my head as I would walk down the halls to my next class, sauntered around on the blacktop during the lunch hour (Some hour; it was a whole big twenty minutes.) or stood in line to take my shower after gym class. Everyone was talking about the opposite sex. The terms used were vulgar, of course. Do young teenagers know anything else? I, often, doubt it. I had my ‘telephone boyfriend’ so I found these conversation silly and a little narcissistic. Luckily, I was smart enough to know not to say anything. No doubt about it, I would have lost friendships if I had.

By the time I was in the ninth grade, junior high school was ‘old hat’. I was comfortable with my classes, that is except for one, science, which I will address at another time. I felt that most of the kids in school liked me or, at least, didn’t dislike me. That year was a jolt in self-esteem and confidence. It was the year when I found myself auditioning for a spot in the yearly show of the school.

Are you thinking I played my flute? I could have. I had been in a couple of ‘All City’ bands by the time I hit the age of fourteen. However, this was during the late 1960s, the height of the ‘hippy era’. To be cool, you had to play the guitar. I had gotten an acoustic classical guitar for Christmas the previous year and had taken a few lessons from Mr. Gary, my flute teacher. I found guitar books filled with popular music scores at The Music Box, a store just three miles from my home.

One of the friends I had acquired within the previous two years, Debbie, had a soft melodic voice. I asked her to go in with me on my plan to sing in the yearly show, The Shindig. Once she understood that I’d be sing harmony and she would have the lead with the melody, she graciously accepted my offer.

Debbie wanted to play an instrument too. I really couldn’t blame her. I had my guitar to hide behind when on stage. She would be standing there with nothing to protect her from her fears. She didn’t know how to play any instrument, which limited our search to percussion only. She wanted to play the tambourine. The only problem was the song we had picked to perform, ‘House of the Rising Sun’. It’s a sad tale of a man’s life. The last thing it ever would need is a lively beat. I had to talk her out of the notion of banging on tin. She ended up standing on the stage with her fears feeling exposed.

Our little act was third on the list of performances. We were there to keep the audience entertained as prompts were being put up and arranged behind the curtain. Yes, we were a minor act. Should I have tried for something more? No, I don’t think so. My heart just wasn’t going in that direction.


The experience did teach me that I was capable of almost anything that I wanted to do. It built a hope in me that I still carry today.


14 Replies to “The Shindig”

    1. Hi Aleta

      I know that you’re quite busy raising a boy who is growing up way too fast, so when you take the time not only to visit my blog but also make a comment, I think I actually feel your hug coming through the digital waves. {HUGS}


    1. Hi Carol

      It’s so great to know when people are liking what I write. My self esteem swells until it might burst. Coming of age? I believe I’m past that as far as chronicle age goes, but spiritually you may be right. 😉


  1. I really like that you can pinpoint them moment of revelation. The lead up to it was good and I was in empathy with you by the time you got on the stage. It’s nice to know that you know you can do anything. Do you still play the flute? I used to play and then in adulthood played when I needed calming down and took further lessons but I haven’t played for years now and sold my flute before we moved up here.


    1. Thank you for the wonderful compliment. This compliment is detailed, which makes it extra special to me.

      I’m not able to play the flute anymore. I was going to major in music in college but then, the summer before my freshman year, I had a stroke. All dreams canceled. I did discover some new dreams that I’m still following in pursue of. 🙂


  2. In high school I think we all wanted on stage at some point, but most of us never made it there. Good for you for having the courage to make the move. I can only imagine what it did for your self-esteem.


  3. It takes a lot of bravery to get up on stage and perform. There is always the fear of ‘what if they don’t like me?’ I’m glad you took the plunge and that it helped your growth.


  4. Your story communicates to the universal need we all seem to feel at some point about getting up on stage. I only ever did so for a few solos at band concerts, but those few experiences definitely boosted my confidence. I would so like to be able to sing in front of a crowd, but that just might give me a heart attack 😉


    1. As a member of the band all during my junior high and high school days, I was on stage at least two times each year and that doesn’t include being on the football field at halftime. As for singing, I couldn’t have done it without Debbie that time. I had gotten so used to singing harmony in the church chior that singing melody was difficult for me. My voice couldn’t reach anything about high E. Besides, I think I would have fainted from fright. 😉


  5. I still get nervous when I have to speak in front to f large group. You would think I would have gotten over that since I had to do it allot as an executive. That said, I think it was brave of you and your friend to do what you did. I agree with your lesson. If we really want to do something, it’s amazing how many fears we can move aside. 🙂


    1. Susan, I may be one of those people who wants too much out of life. I feel those fears all the time but, because I want what I want, I usually go charging ahead like a bull in a china shop. I’m one of those that have ‘Foot-In-Mouth disease’. 😉


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