When someone who should've been a role model just wanted to play a role
|As an eighth-grader, I learned the hard way that it doesn't pay to be too enthusiastic.
Here's what happened. My parents and I had been invited to a party by a friend of Dad's, who was very high up (Vice President or something) in a big corporate house. The party was meant to be for 'family', and his own family being in another town, he invited us, his emotional family, instead. There were decorations, singing, dancing, food, and entertainment.
It was the 'entertainment' that started the trouble.
In those days, the concept of multiple channels on TV was a new one, and much wondered at. A few of the employees had got together to write and perform a hilarious play called 'TV Mix up', to much applause.
Here's where my enthusiasm comes in. The next day, I related this to my eighth-grade teacher, and described the play so vividly that she asked if I could get my hands on the script. It was a bit embarrassing, but I gritted my teeth and called Dad's friend, little knowing that it was going to get worse.
Dad's friend requested the actors for it, and, he being their Vice President, I guess they couldn't refuse. I received a very neat, hand-written copy, and, at the end, the disclaimer - 'Copyright' and the name of the firm.
I gave it to my teacher, and she smiled. "We'll perform it as our class's contribution to the school's annual entertainment," she said.
"We'll have to mention the name of the firm, it's their script," I responded.
I told you it would get worse.
"So let them sue us," she drawled. "We're performing it without mentioning any copyright thing."
I was aghast. She was going to pretend that the script was an original! My protests were met with sarcasm, and she took the script and flounced off for tea-break.
She entered class that afternoon with a determined look in her eye. "We're going to hold the auditions for the play," she said. She looked at me directly. "And it's my decision to whom I give the roles and how I announce the play, and I don't want any interference with that from anyone whatsoever."
I was in a dilemma. Should I audition? Would it be wrong, to be in a plagiarised play? But the play was going to be performed anyway, regardless of my qualms. I might as well have the fun of being in it if I could.
I auditioned, but I didn't get a part. Those who did were really good, so I was disappointed, but not bitter. At least she hadn't kept me out deliberately -- I had been truly outperformed by some of my classmates. The plagiarisation still bothered me, though. It nagged at the back of my mind for the remaining classes, and the teachers pulled me up for inattention. But ...I told you it would get worse.
On the bus back home, I decided I had to drown my sorrows in something ... something creamy and icy. Visions of ice cream swam in my head. As luck would have it, the ice cream vendor was at the exact spot where I disembarked. At last, things were going my way.
Eighth-graders didn't get much money in those days. Bus fare and a bit more, for emergencies. I pulled a handful of change out of my pocket and scattered it on the glass covering the ice cream.
i was 25p short of the cheapest cone (vanilla) and the guy refused to give me a half-scoop. He was sorry for me, but he had his accounts to add up and couldn't mess around with prices and quantities.
I had unwittingly aided and abetted the plagiarising of a script, I hadn't got a role, and I couldn't afford to drown my sorrows in ice-cream. It doesn't get worse.