Sunday, August 15, 2010

Odyssey of the Mind or Journey to Insanity: A Tragic Comedy Begins

Perhaps one of the most defining eras in my life was the time spent in middle school. Friendships were forged, teachers were traumatized, and brain cells were destroyed. And for us, hilarity ensued, but I’m not sure our parents or teachers appreciated the humor.

Even before starting classes, I met the scourge of the Earth: Eric “C” Hanson. This travesty of a person simultaneously became both one of my best friends and my sworn enemy. We would later go on to become roommates, develop one of the most verbally abusive friendships I know of, and share many laughs along the way. But that will be a story for another day.

At the beginning of 6th grade, five elementary school friends, C, and I formed an Odyssey of the Mind team. The premise of Odyssey of the Mind was that teams would choose from a number of different scenarios/problems, then they would have to write and perform a short skit and design a set to fulfill the requirements of the problem. The scenario we chose was called “Over the Mountain.” Our skit had to consist of a journey to three countries, two real and one imaginary, collecting souvenirs along the way and we had to have a remote control car travel over a fake river and a mountain.

Now, this may sound like a fun and educational opportunity. However, keep in mind that this was a team of seven 6th grade boys. We may have been smart, but each of us had an attention span of about a tenth of a second, were prone to bouts of yelling and running about, and probably all had some sort of personality disorder. A team of crack-addled monkeys would have been equally productive. It is no surprise that the teacher advising us had noticeably greyer hair after three years of dealing with us.

I’m actually not even sure how our advisor and parents let us get away with the story we crafted. In retrospect, we probably should have been disqualified for our choice of first country to visit. Most people would choose some nice, cute European country. Not us. We chose to visit Iraq. Beginning a streak of comic political foreshadowing, the two characters we portrayed there were Saddam Hussein and a WMD scientist, and our set prominently featured a SCUD missile. But we did collect some delicious dates on the way.

The second country we visited was our imaginary one. We called it Apocalypsia, the land of utter destruction. Apocalypsia was sort of like hell, but with a friendly Satan who would sing a cute jingle for visitors and throw jolly little tea parties. Creating a place of chaos and destruction was our specialty, as we managed to do that every day unintentionally.

Finally, our journey would take us to England, which seems like a normal enough place. For whatever reason, however, we made a manatee puppet the king. How he became king, I cannot say, but I do know that he was abused in ways that a puppet never should be. No wonder they’re endangered.

Despite our blatant disregard for common decency and tact, the judges at the regional competition decided to award us second place Maybe they just had a good sense of humor. If only they knew that immediately before our performance, two of our team members were beating the crap out of each other, things might have turned out differently.

The adventure continues in 7th grade and 8th grade.

No comments:

Post a Comment