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A Great Audience
On June 9th, I was invited to attend the Ontario Principals' Council, Windsor Branch's retirement dinner. They hadn't been able to hold one since covid arrived, so everyone who had retired in the last three years was invited to attend. Now I retired six years ago, but I was invited to be the entertainment. The organizers had decided to forego the de rigeur speeches from Senior Admin in favour of something they thought the attendees would enjoy a bit more.
Linda and I went, not really knowing what to expect. Back when I was working, the retirement dinner was looked forward to, as a golf outing, followed by a nice meal, but it was only ever attended by about twenty of us - twenty secondary school principals and vice-principals. We were separate from the elementary administrators. This night's affair was to be a combined affair - elementary and secondary together. And, as I said, it was the first one in three years - the first actual live, in person event in three years. We opened the door to the restaurant, carrying a box of books and wearing the masks we wear everywhere inside. We were struck by, first, the noise of many people talking and laughing , and then the sound of live music - a jazz band. We turned the corner to enter the room and saw a hundred and fifty laughing and talking principals and vice-principals with two superintendents and a three piece jazz band - none of them wearing masks!
It looked like an entirely normal scene from a few years ago. We found seats at the perimeter of the room, as far from everyone else as possible, looked at each other, took a deep breath and removed our masks. People came over to shake my hand and congratulate me on the book, two former students of mine, now VPs, came over to thank me and tell me they were doing well. The organizers came over to make sure I knew when I was to speak and to make sure Linda and I were seen to with respect to drinks and dinner. And when the song being played by the Jazz Trio ended, and Linda and I clapped, the way we always did before covid, and will again, perhaps as soon as later this year, the drummer said, "Thanks Mr. Garlick, Mrs. Garlick." It turned out the Trio was led by Owen Jones, who went to the same High School as I did, and had also written a book.
It seemed perfect.
Superintendent Houston brought greetings from the Board and then I was called up. I received polite applause. They all knew that I'd written the book. Several of them had already bought it, but very few had heard me tell a story.
I explained the premise of the book and then read them "Never Leave the Class Alone." The title alone made many of them laugh. And as I read the story, this audience anticipated where the story might lead. They laughed in all the places I hoped they would, at times making me wait for the laughter to subside a bit, and they roared at the exact correct spot, and gave me BIG applause at the end.
I asked the organizers if I had time for a second story, and the audience told me I did. I chose "The Golf Hole and Sixty Trees," explaining that it recounted the first time I got in a bit of trouble with Senior Administration. Just before I started I added, "Oh. I've changed the name of the superintendent involved." Everyone laughed. When I started to read the story, and got to the fictional superintendent's name, I heard one of the organizers stage whisper the real name, which caused a general laugh, but then I enjoyed the same experience with this story telling as I'd enjoyed with the first - laughter in all the right places, at times so loud I had to wait for it to subside before I could continue, and then BIG applause at the end.
It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had as David Garlick, author; separate from, but related to, David Garlick, educator.
Oh. And in case you're concerned, neither Linda nor I contracted covid.
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