Roosevelt Avenue Elementary School in North Attleboro, MA has named me:
"Most Interesting Primate Visitor to Our School This Year. So Far..."
The competition was incredibly stiff.
It seems that the last enrichment program they had was a helper monkey who could, "make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and loofah your feet until they're as soft as a baby's bottom."
Obviously, this put me under tremendous pressure for my entire 3 day visit. I'd hate to hear comments like, "That author guy was okay, but the sandwiches he made weren't as good as the ones that monkey made. And look at the third-rate job he did on my feet. They aren't nearly as soft as a baby's bottom."
So you can no doubt imagine how excited I was when I heard the news. I prepared a long and rambling acceptance speech, but I couldn't find a team of trained monkeys to type it for me, so I just gave up.
|"Welcome Mr. Kelley." Do you see anything about Welcome Mr. Monkey? No. Because I won. Ha ha on you, Mr. Monkey.|
My host for the visit, Gretchen, was helpful beyond description, earning her an award that I have just created in her honor:
"First School Host to Buy Me a Cocktail. Ever."
I am hopeful that it will become a prestigious and eagerly sought after award in its own right, with school hosts vying for titles like "Second School Host to Buy Me a Cocktail." and "Third School Host to Buy Me a Cocktail."
I can conceive of a day when schools all over the country have entire fund-raising events dedicated to raising money to buy me exotic drinks with many colorful umbrellas and towering, architectural wonders of fruit garnishes spilling from their rims.
As it was - and I feel very compelled to point this out - Gretchen did not actually use any school funds at all to buy me a drink. She used her own funds.
That's probably because the PTA money at her school is earmarked exclusively for hiring a team of loofah-wielding monkeys to sit in the teachers' lounge and rub the teachers' feet while the kids are out at recess. If that fundraiser goes well, they'll be adding a team of sandwich-making monkeys, too.
This is exactly how public education works. Trust me.
Gretchen was also instrumental in seeing that I was comfortably situated in a hotel where I would be unlikely to run into a SWAT team. "You might want to avoid The Pineapple Inn," she suggested, "They tend to have frequent police raids."
Instead, I checked in at The Holiday Inn and realized immediately that I should have packed more carefully. It wasn't like my trip to Washington D.C. when I failed to pack any clean socks or undies, but it had potential to turn out that badly.
I was faced with 3 days and 3 nights of being unable to wash my hands.
|But how do I wash my hands?|
Still, even though there was no hand soap, there were also no SWAT team raids, so I suppose it all balanced out somehow.
The staff and students at the school were wonderful and fun and I really had a great time. On the first day, a couple volunteers modeled for me and then even posed for pictures. Please note that I simply ooze maturity, making bunny ears behind the kids' heads.
Gretchen arranged a book signing one evening and it was a roaring success.
|People actually stood in line to buy my books and talk to me. I felt all famous.|
Many of the kids opted, for some reason, to get their pictures taken with me.
Obviously, I am a role model.
Now, thanks to me, these kids are making bunny ears in photos.
That's why I won that award and the monkey didn't.
Because I am a role model and he is simply a monkey with crazy ninja-like loofah skills.
Are they loofahing people's feet because of that monkey?
I didn't think so.
Over the next two days, I got to spend time in each classroom, working with the kids on writing projects.
|These girls are working on a drawing of me, trapped inside a ginormous birthday cake. They'll use their picture as a writing prompt to write the greatest story in human history: The story of me, trapped in a ginormous birthday cake.|
|These kids are asking me if I can loofah their feet and make them a sandwich. When I refuse, they are upset.|
On my final night in North Attleboro, Gretchen directed me to India, a local, and aptly named, Indian food restaurant. I would have gone simply for some spicy curry, but when she told me that they also had a belly dancer and served ginger martinis, I found it difficult to resist getting 3 meals a day there.
|Even their take-out was all fancy. It really classed up my hotel room, even if I couldn't wash my hands before I ate.|
And now that I think about it, I feel that I must bequeath another award to Roosevelt Ave. School:
"Most Fun Residency I Have Done in 2012. So Far..."
"So Far" because the next school might have a belly dancing monkey that can make a ginger martini.