Assignment: Revisit an Assignment (I Chose the Sherlock Memoir)

I have been known to be quite impulsive. I’ll be struck with a certain idea, then sweep everyone in my path into this cyclone of inevitbale frenzied disaster. The trouble begins because I’ll (1) be so powerfully overcome with the sheer awesomeness of this new idea, (2) convince practically everyone I know to join me on this venture, and (3) due, mostly to my negligence of details and complete disregard for time management, the entire thing ends in fiasco. Needless to say, the story I am about to relate was a regular occurrence.

We still had “Reading Class” in the sixth grade, wherein the lot of us would spend 35-40 minutes a day discussing the previous night’s reading, and often read more in class. On one particular day, our reading assignment was anexerpt of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” written as if for the stage. The excitement brimming from my soul was so monstrous, I turned to my friend afterward and begged, “Would you please consider helping me take the entire short story, and transfer it all into script form?” She conceded.

Over the next few days, the two of us plunged in, dragging copies of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes from the protective folds of our too-small school library, turning to the real library for things like What Clothing Did They Wear in 1883 (bustles, mostly, and top hats), and lastly pleading with our wondrously classy teacher for permission to perform this on the stage in the gym.

She conceded. Why ever, I’ll never know. Anyway, my sixth-grade classmates were all supportive, and we casted everything to my levels of perfection: namely, that Jessica was Helen, Luke was Sherlock, Rob was Watson, Jamie was The Dead Sister, etc. The only problem was that the classmate-to-character ratio was leaning far too far on the classmate side… so we had to improvise. We made Jon Watson Also, hoping that he could narrate the entire thing, while Rob could act out What Watson Actually Did, and no one would know the difference. We also added a fearless crime-solver who was coming to “be taught the ropes” by Sherlock and Co… (That was Elyse) and her ditzy friend who collected… string, or something. That’s who I decided to play. Brilliant.

So the day of the play arrived. My friend, my compatriot, the other mastermind behind this entire thing conveniently “had to leave” for a “dentist appointment.” She was always the smarter one. Slipping out from under the spotlight before the walls of the stage came crashing down around us.

Unbeknownst to us, our teacher had informed the other elementary classes, so by the time we had everything set up (namely, that there was a mattress pushed to the far right of the stage, several people were in thrift-store bathrobes, and I had blue eyeliner), we were ready to begin. As I glanced out into the (rather small, actually) sea of faces, I saw not one, but TWO of my parents. The shame already started to run in buckets. This was doomed.

We got our Jon/Narrator Watson to open up the tale with a direct-from-Doyle mouthful: “On glancing over my notes of the seventy odd cases in which I have during the last eight years studied the methods of my friend Sherlock Holmes, I find many tragic, some comic, a large number merely strange, but none commonplace…” and so on, and so forth. Might I add, that Jon was always the most reticent of our group, and often requested, quite politely, to be given parts with fewer lines.

Luke/Sherlock, with his crayola-washable-marker mustache, stood next to Rob/Watson, who was “sleeping” on a cot we shoved to center stage. Because I would NOT part with the original Doyle FOR THE WORLD, I was adamant that, when Luke/Sherlock went to wake Rob/Watson up, he say, “”Very sorry to knock you up, Watson, but it’s the common lot this morning. Mrs. Hudson has been knocked up, she retorted upon me, and I on you.” Which, considering this was performed before our parents, and a host of–er, a few–elementaty-schoolers, was probably not the best course of action.

Anyway, so we got Elyse/The Intern to show up, after having telegraphed Rob/Watson. She was the first of our Modern Characters, and was dressed accordingly (i.e. not in a bathrobe). On the aforementioned telegram, she signed with the name “Taylor,” and we proceeded to make a grand joke over Rob/Watson’s reaction(“Wait, Miss Taylor? You’re a girl?” Elyse/The Intern Taylor glaces at herself, holds a lock of hair as proof, “Uh, yeah, last time I checked). And then I came on the scene. Hair half-up in ponytais, old soccer medals around my neck, wearing camoflauge and sporting yellow monkey slippers… really, I was only there to up the comedic aspect. Because, you know, the whole we’re-reading-our-lines-from-our-scripts hadn’t supplied that enough.

We (that is, Sherlock and Co, including Intern and Myself)  wound up investigating this young lady’s house, wherein her sister had died a year before (Jamie’s death scene, by the way? Magnificent. I nearly cried and ruined all my blue make-up). Her step-father (played by the only African-American in our class, per his request… I think) was eventually convicted as the murderer, for having let loose a (rubber) snake into the adjoining room, which bit the young lady and caused her death, so he could inherit the fortune. We only veered from the Doyle to end, properly, with an “Elementary, my good Watson, elementary.”

We probably did Not Bad, considering that the oldest of us was maybe twelve at the time. But a big piece was left out, which would explain the entire mystery, and my character was just obnoxious and for a few weeks afterwards (okayyy, maybe a couple years) I did my best to forget the entire thing.

Looking back on it now, however, I can’t help but… yeah, appreciate the whole fiasco. I mean, who puts on an entire Adventure of Sherlock Holmes after only practicing for a few recesses, yeah? Oh, that’s right… we did.

(PICTURES WILL BE UP ON MONDAY…i left them at the wrong house….)

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