Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Awards Ceremony

In early April 2007 I received a call. “Hello, I’m Frances with Cheyenne Mountain School District’s Awards Committee. The district is recognizing you as Cheyenne Mountain Junior High’s Volunteer of the Year. The ceremony is Monday, April 30, from 3:45 till 6:00. Will you be able to attend?”

“Ahhh,” a voice resembling mine responded. “What did I do to deserve this?”

“I believe it’s for doing the newsletter for two years,” she cheerfully fed me.

“Gosh, well, thank you. But I don’t get out in public much anymore. Is the event a big deal?”

“It is,” she earnestly replied.

When I hung up with her, I was astounded. Someone appreciated me.

Days before the affair, I was still uneasy about going to be publicly awarded, but when the day arrived, I roped my daughter into driving back to her school with me. I tossed on my Rockies khakis, spikes, a long-sleeved yellow cotton top, and a wrinkled silk scarf that I could use to strangle myself if…

When we arrived, it was obvious the Twenty-second Annual Recognition Awards Ceremony was a big district deal. About 200 employees, award recipients, and their entourage were professionally dressed, hair coiffed, teeth whitened. Well, all but one. I freaked.

Nervously and with a slight tremor, I scoped an off-center place to hide under two metal folding chairs. Instead, though, we sat. I anxiously looked around for someone besides my daughter whose jacket I could crawl beneath, but all I saw were unfamiliar faces.

And so began the honors. Crimson, the senior high school music group, kicked off the event with great harmonies. Now that’s where I fit in: between that girl’s perfectly straight teeth. Then the education board president spoke, followed by a word from the superintendent, initiating the parade of our smiling district’s best.

The program I firmly gripped assured me I wouldn’t have to endure the agony of waiting too long. Volunteers would be awarded first, rising to a crescendo of retirees as the event’s finale.

Before a beautiful wooden plaque was handed to each recipient, an announcer would read a long introductory description of each person’s service to the district.

Good grief, I thought, what on earth could they say about me? My body was beginning to convulse into Tourette’s syndrome movements. And as if that weren’t enough, a photographer was capturing each glorious handshake. Ahhhh!

The award winner before me was on his way back to his seat when the announcer began reading about me. It was actually completely cool. They made up wonderful things about me that made me wish I’d have brought a compact, so I could check myself out. The writers had thrown in crazy, fun ideas suggesting I was with the FBI or CIA, since they’d e-mail all the stories and news to be included in the newsletters, and in return, they’d receive a completely edited and designed work. Most had never met me, so I suspect I was the mystery mom.

With great might, I pried the magnet in my butt away from the metal chair and strolled over to receive a fine gold-inscribed plaque with my name accurately spelled and a handshake from a guy whose daughter once hit our car. I gave my best Cheshire cat grin and sprinted back to my security-blanket daughter.

As I sat, I caught a glimpse of a thin, white article falling from my pants leg. Apprehensively, I wiggled my rear back into the chair and reached down to grab the thing. What I discreetly pulled up into our view was a dryer sheet!

To this day, I’ve wondered how many people saw the white, mesh, sheet dangling above my high heels as it tried to release itself from my khakis.

So along with my pretty Outstanding Volunteer plaque and the program, I keep the dryer sheet, just as a reminder of how special I really am.

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