Did I ever tell you about my short-lived career as an actual “ad-man”?
*wavy remembery lines*
Way back in the once-upon-a-time, there was a drama club. And that drama club was trying to recruit new members. I went to a high school where there was a pretty clear divide between the band-drama kids and the football-sports kids. Our town gave a LOT of support to sports, which is great, but it meant that the band-drama kids did a lot of fundraising (I worked my share of coat checks and bingos, thank you very much).
So we’re trying to drum up more members of the drama club. This…was not easy. Drama’s tough for teens. It’s enough bullshit to try to figure out who you are and trying to convince yourself you don’t care what anyone thinks of your hair/shirt/taste in music/friends/air. Now take that inherent insecurity, throw it on a stage, and tell it to PROJECT. TO THE BACK OF THE HALL. COME ON, I CAN’T HEAR YOU IN THE STAFF ROOM.
Like. Get out of the staff room, you daft bugger. We’re all on stage. That’s legit not how you’re supposed to watch a play.
I’m getting sidetracked again. It’s amazing how easily that happens.
The drama teachers at the beginning of my grade 12 year asked a few of us to make up some posters to advertise the club and to get folks out to the first meeting. So my friends M and the long-suffering S and I staked out the kitchen table with markers and crayons and, I dunno, probably glitter. Chances are good at least one of us was in to glitter. That sounds like a M-thing.
Here’s the thing. There’s a reason #HisNibs, when he meets people who know me, has “the speech”. It usually starts with “don’t encourage her” and often ends with “no, seriously. Don’t encourage her.” Frankly, I have NO IDEA why ANYONE wouldn’t want to encourage me because I’m basically brilliant, but there may be a teensy tiny chance that sometimes I might, rarely, take things, little things – some things, not all things, a wee little bit too, you know, far.
I mean. Far is subjective, right? Which means too far is EXTRA subjective. So it’s not like telling Hitler jokes at a dinner party is too far for EVERYONE. Maybe not at a Passover dinner party, but, see the thing is HOW CAN YOU KNOW? It’s not like EVERYONE is going to take offense at a house party if you mention that kids in school drinking the hand sanitizer out of the hall dispensers should consider making jello shooters out of it instead of just drinking it. I mean SOME people might, but you can always just find them and apologise later, right?
Anyway, we’re making posters. We’re coming up with slogans. For high school drama club. M makes this awesome collage of a toucan, with something like “who can act? TOUCAN!”, which she ended up putting up outside the French class, because if you can’t mangle a slogan in two official languages, what good are you?
The Long-Suffering S makes this awesome poster with a little top hat and cane and bow tie that went along the lines of “Class the place up! Join Drama!” I seem to remember letting M loose with the sparkles on that poster.
I, on the other hand, went a different route:
This, of course, is a modern-day version of that poster that was so lovingly hand-crafted lo those many years ago. It may have had glitter.
Predictably, the school administration (or as we called them, “the fascists”) removed the poster. We (and by “we”, I mean “I”, since neither M nor the long-suffering S were particularly keen on the idea of being suspended) made another poster. It got stolen. I think we must have made at least a dozen “Debbie Does the Drama Club” posters before the fascists actually DID say something. We were called in to speak to a teacher, who asked us, rather sternly, “Do you think this ‘Debbie Does the Drama Club’ poster is really appropriate for a high school audience?”
M and the Long-Suffering S looked at their shoes. I, also predictably, raised my eyebrows and cocked my head. “Yes?” I asked. “Because our school values free speech and the free expression of ideas, even challenging ones?”
I was informed that I was wildly incorrect when it came to the school’s values, and was told in no uncertain terms that I was not to put up any more “Debbie Does the Drama Club” posters. This may shock you, but in those days, I wasn’t much in favour of rebellion. I did what my parents and my teachers asked of me, and I respected that decision.
No, stop laughing. I actually did.
I didn’t put up any more “Debbie Does the Drama Club” posters. I put up these posters:
Gender equality was important to me even then. I mean, maybe the problem the teachers had was the fact that it was only Debbie having all the fun. Poor Danny. MOAR DRAMA CLUB FOR EVERYONE! That’s the ticket!
…it turns out that that was, in fact, not the ticket, because in spite of our hiding the posters in non-traditional hallways (the student bathrooms, the walls of the auto shop, the stairwell nobody used, the wall of the indoor garden, there behind the orange tree, just past where a bunch of kids grew weed when my dad was teaching there…in spite of our scavenger-hunt-like placement of the new, non-offensive posters, we were once again scheduled to meet with a teacher.
“I thought we talked about this,” the teacher said.
“Well, I mean. YOU talked about it,” I said. The Long-Suffering S kicked me.
“You were told not to put these posters up,” the teacher said.
“ACTUALLY,” I said, moving away from the Long-Suffering S, “we were told not to put up any more ‘Debbie Does the Drama Club’ posters. You didn’t say anything about Danny.”
The teacher may have sighed. May have rubbed his temples. May have rolled his eyes and wondered why the fuck he’d ever decided to teach in a high school. May have thought now would be a good time to pursue his lifelong dream of joining the French Foreign Legion.
“Don’t put up posters that any reasonable person, including the students of this school, could construe as making references to pornography. Okay? Please?”
In truth, there were several other relatively racy posters scattered throughout the school. I just don’t remember what all they said. And apparently the “Debbie/Daniel Does” posters were the most offensive. We stopped making them.
Here’s what I learned from that experience: if you go too far, like WAY too far, you end up getting away with something that never would have been approved in the first place.