How could there be so much talent in a single suburban middle school? Ryan Björklund speculates on the fate of our gifted children.
Sat behind a family at Panera Bread today. I was drinking coffee and overheard a young girl with her back to me explaining something to her uninterested family.
“So then I went to Katie’s house for the thingy… but Jarrod wasn’t going to go, so I was like… but Andrea doesn’t even like him like that… so now her mom is mad and going to make her get an abortion.” The back of her shirt said: “Hampton Middle School’s Got Talent!”
I noticed how the school justified sacrificing grammar in order to reference a popular TV show.
There were at least a hundred names listed directly beneath the “Got Talent!”
Names like Aiden, Chelseigh, Carlisle. Addison, Madison, Tyler, Skyler, Riley, Chloe, Sofia. There were actually six Sofias. There’s no way there were so many genuinely talented kids in this western Pennsylvania suburb. God, maybe the talent show went on for hours. Maybe it took place in some newly-renovated school auditorium. Maybe everyone in the audience felt as though he or she was being held captive. Maybe the audience was filled with business executives checking their numerous e-mail accounts. Yoga pantsed stay-at-home moms thinking about all the things you can put on a baked potato. Plastic surgeons staring past some stranger’s kid’s dance routine, and thinking about how a few more rhinoplasties could help underwrite an actual white rhino hunt. Lawyers staring at the ceiling, planning their next triumphant deceit. All bored out of their fucking skulls.
Yet all dutifully attending these dull-as-dishwater events in their children’s lives. An event where a child’s need to feel special overrides a parent’s need to play golf or drink whiskey. Maybe some of the parents even resent their kid’s aspirations for stardom because it cuts into their “me” time. Maybe some of the fathers sitting there actually would rather be playing golf and drinking whiskey. Maybe some of the mothers there want to just get this snore fest over with so they can go fuck their personal trainer already. Well, maybe only the mothers who weren’t impatiently squirming, having to watch the multitude of untalented brats, hogging spotlight from their pride and joy.
Maybe there were even some satellite families in attendance. Maybe some shared custody parents sitting awkwardly together, waiting through all the painful memories and heartache. Anguished over lost love. But doing so in some false gesture of supportive unity for their little bucket of sunshine.
After all, Skyler’s got talent.
The silly names go on and on. Meegan.
Maybe Meegan’s mom is newly divorced. A divorcée. Maybe she continues wearing her sunglasses in the dark auditorium. She has that Desperate-Housewife-no-more uniform on. A Coach purse, and a tight BCBG dress into which she can squeeze all that weight she gained during her loveless marriage. Some tanned circus peanut skin. Freshly botoxed face beaming with fake excitement from watching Meegan and one of the six Sofias mumble Nicki Minaj lyrics through the feedback of a microphone.
Maybe Meegan’s father was there too, but sitting far away from Meegan’s mom. Maybe this made him feel embarrassed, having created the mouth-breathing buffoon onstage. Maybe he would rather be playing golf or watching college football. Maybe he’s going over life insurance beneficiary scenarios during the whole thing to make sure these thankless tramps don’t get to profit from his eventual suicide.
Maybe there were handicapped siblings in the audience, forcing themselves to grin while trying to digest the fact that they’ll never be adored the same way.
Near the end of the list were two noticeably similar Chinese names. Maybe they were identical twins, and performed a duet. Maybe they were identical twins, but had separate acts. Maybe they both played the exact same extremely complex song on the piano. Maybe they had a piano duel. Maybe they won the Hampton Middle School’s Got Talent spectacular. Maybe both of their parents can’t drive. Maybe their insurance is raised every time they try to parallel park. Maybe they have enough money for something like a monthly fender bender to be considered a comical annoyance.
Maybe only one of these kids on this list possesses any real talent. Maybe it is a young boy who will grow up to be the frontman of a futuristic dub-rock group called GlitterBitch and the AssFuckingMillionaires. (GBAFM) Maybe he’ll catch AIDS and die after unknowingly spreading it through his network of profligate groupies.
Maybe there is a kid who is being forced on stage against their will, so their wide-eyed, wide-grinned parent can live vicariously through their perceived stardom. Maybe that child will grow up to be a serial murderer. Maybe that serial murderer will kill me when I get older. When I’m not able to quickly defend myself against a hatchet attack in a dark parking lot.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this.
Maybe I’m wrong about all of this.