My First Embarrassment

I shared my first betrayal in a previous post; that betrayal being a very mean neighborhood boy convincing my 4-year-old self that because I was little, I should choose the tiniest grape from the bunch that he was offering. Of course, the grape was horribly tart and the boy laughed maniacally as he watched my startled reaction.

So now on to my first embarrassment, at least the first I can remember. It was 1961 and I was in 1st grade. The movie West Side Story had had just come out. There was also an album, which my teacher brought to class one day. She called me to the front of the room and had me sit in a chair right next to the record player. And she played the song "Maria" (my name) while I sat squirming and the whole class stared at me.

"Maria" is a lovely song (props to Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim), but that was just about the longest 3 minutes of my life. To this day, I go into a cold sweat when I hear the opening refrain:

The most beautiful sound I ever heard:

Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria All the beautiful sounds of the words In a single word: Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria


Nine of the 27 words---fully one-third---is Maria! And at the age 6, sitting in the front of that classroom, each one felt like a blow with a tiny little hammer.

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