Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Then and Now 65 - Thriller

Then and Now 65 - Thriller
Time: Late 2007, dating my wife.

As the foreign teacher for my English school, it was up to me to set up and plan an awesome Halloween in 2007, and I wasn't going to disappoint. When I first applied for, and got, my job at this school, I told the truth about what kind of guy I was and the things I wanted to do in this country (all benign), but at the time, my boss didn't believe me. I'll go into more detail when I make the Then and Now that describes me landing this job, but it was Halloween night that I proved myself to my new boss and co-workers.

It didn't take long for me to make a plan for that night for the kids. I thought back to what I did in my own school life growing up, and I came up with the idea to make chocolate/marshmallow stick ghosts, just like I did back in the first or second grade. It would end up being the first stage of the three stage Halloween night. For the second stage, the kids would go downstairs and make some scary masks with the local teachers, and then come back up for the final stage, which was my biggest plan: we were going to watch Michael Jackson's Thriller music video, and I would teach them the dance.

My colleagues took care of the supply gathering for the first two activities, and it fell on me to take care of the third. It was a long process to get everything ready: I downloaded a high resolution version of the Thriller music video from YouTube, then I had to convert the file into an AVI, then I had to find a free version DVD maker to put the AVI file on with a menu... it was pretty complicated. When I was done with it, and sure the DVD would play in the school's player, the best part began.

Taking the DVD home with me, I began the slow process of learning the Thriller dance for myself. I've never danced anything in my life besides the hip hop shuffle in Then and Now 11, so to take only a few weeks to learn this one was a huge task for me. So at my apartment, night by night, second by second and move by move, I slowly began to master the expertly crafted and fun dance. Because I lived alone, I was free to practice at any time, wearing anything I wanted, and not have to worry about someone breaking down my door and yelling at me to stop, clean something or anything else.

After roughly two weeks and dozens of hours of practice, I finally mastered the dance, and Halloween arrived very shortly afterwards. Every night before the big night, I practiced the dance in its entirety from top to bottom, until I was able to do it several times in a row with no mistakes.

The night of the big party, I arrived dressed like Harry Potter, complete with the scar on my forehead that I drew with a Sharpie. The kids arrived one after another to make their ghosts, and I smiled brightly seeing how much fun they were having. Everyone did their ghosts correctly with the napkin robe through their toothpicks, but the ghosts' heads were all a testament to the kids' individual personalities: some of them made clean faces with tiny chocolate eyes and smiles, while some basically painted the entire head in chocolate to have a feast at the end of the night. I wasn't there for the mask part because I was too busy with the ghosts, but I heard they were having fun down there, too.

And finally, it was my turn to direct my little zombies through Thriller. While the movie set up and MJ was out with his girlfriend, I was showing the kids how to do the dance, little by little. They were really cute miming my moves while also trying to see what was happening on the screen. Then, at last, MJ and his girlfriend came to the streets and were surrounded by zombies. The kids in the class backed up at my insistence, and finally, when MJ was turned, I began the dance.

It was amazing, all the way through. I missed absolutely no moves, knew exactly what to do the entire time without looking at the screen, and the kids were going absolutely nuts. They swarmed me to the point that I had to back up, almost up against the screen, to get the kicking moves done near the end of it. Finally, when the dance was done, everyone cheered and applauded, and the kids watched the movie to the very end. The best part was when MJ turned into the crazy werewolf thing at the end, a bunch of the kids screamed in happy fright.

With the night coming to a close, everyone headed to the front desk to get some candy, sign out and head home. Several of the parents came by to thank me for a great night, and to take pictures with me and their kids together. A few minutes later, everyone but my boss, co-workers and I had left, and they thanked me profusely for my hard work. My boss even said that she had never had a Halloween party so good.

From that moment on, the things I had said about myself during the interview came into focus, and my colleagues knew that I meant what I had said: back then, I really was an adventurous, fun and hard-working beast of a good man.

As for today...

I woke up at 5:00.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the computer.
I took my son on a trip to the mountains to see diggers, then we ate breakfast, then we went home.
I hung up wet laundry.
I watched DVDs with my wife.
I watched internet movies with my son.
I went to work.
I helped a co-worker with some essays.
I taught students.
I came home.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I watched DVDs with my son.
I slept.

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