I look at some people in my life and wonder if they have ever had the opportunity to really be a superstar. Have they ever experienced the limelight? Have they ever really felt special?
I had my day to shine! It was early June, 1977. There was less than a week left in 6th grade. I was finishing up elementary school.
I wasn’t a popular kid – unathletic, bushy hair, wearing Husky jeans from JC Penney. I was funny – a good line every now and then – well-behaved, and made decent grades but nothing, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.
As May approached, students in my class began to think about their acts for the end of year talent show. Being insecure, it wasn’t an activity I had ever participated in; nor did I aspire to. But this year, something was different.
I think Willamina Sparrow was the first to approach me.
“Danny, you’re so crazy! Why don’t you do the Soul Train line with us in the talent show?”
“Willa, what makes you think I’d want to do that?”
“I saw you when we went to the zoo. You danced to Ruth’s chant.”
“You mean Introduce Yourself?”
“Yeah. Do it.”
Introduce Yourself was probably the first rap I’d ever heard. While I was on the black top being lit up by Scotty Cannon’s German dodgeball throw, the girls were all in a circle near the jungle gym singing this song.
I was always willing to crackup a classmate so I obliged, clapping my hands and cutting the fool:
Introduce yourself, un huh, introduce yourself.
My name is Danny – check
They call me crazy – check it out
My nickname’s Dan Boy – check
There ain’t no doubt – check it out un huh.
“You crack me up Dan Boy! Come on. You can dance. It’ll be fun. Roger’s doin’ it, Ruth, Sabrina, George.”
All were African-American kids I’d grown up with over the past six years at Walker Spivey and Glendale Acres Elementary Schools. I didn’t really have the opportunity to hang out with them after 3 pm, but I sure did enjoy them in class. Earlier that year on the playground, Willamina had sorted out all the details for me to “go with” Joianna Spears. I guess I sort of owed her one; Joianna was a hotty.
When the day came, I was told to wear a suit. We were dressing up for this one. Mine was tan polyester with lapels as wide as Texas. My shirt was silky with brown and tan paisleys, the collar pointed like the Pope’s hat. Man I wish that style would come back.
We’d practiced twice, the song was Brick House by the Commadores.
The six of us had a standard step – five of us stayed in formation while the sixth moved to the front of the stage and did their own thing. I was last. When the Commadores hit Shake it down – Shake it Down Now, I made my way to center stage. I moved a little to the left and slid back to the right, followed by multiple Elvis like pelvis thrusts.
When the crowd went wild, I did sort of feel like the King.
We were so good, the principal invited us to repeat our performance later that day in afternoon assembly. My mom could hardly fit my head in the car on the drive back home.
I’m glad I had my day in the limelight, and I can pinpoint a time in each of my kids’ lives where they have felt at least that special. I wish I could figure out a way to help everyone be a superstar, at least once.