(real names and places have been adjusted so that I can share this story without losing future business or feeling like an awful person)
“It’s like you’re Angelina Jolie.”
“Or Madonna!” I suggested.
This is just a typical conversation that Rebecca and I had recently about my celebrity status. I just wrapped up teaching a four week session of music classes at a library. This library happens to be located on the often-known-to-be-prestigious-well-off-and-yuppy island upon which I grew up. Ms. Librarian, at this library, was, for the most part very nice, helpful and accommodating, but she was also kinda somethin’ else.
After talking to the librarians at the two libraries that I taught at a couple of years ago she called me in a panic.
“Look,” Ms. Librarian said, “They raved about your music program, but they also said that it caused rioting.”
“Uh, rioting?” I asked.
“Yes, rioting and we just can’t have rioting here at the Yuppy Island Library.”
The “rioting” that she was referring to was the fact that, due to the number of instruments I have, we have to limit the number of toddler/preschoolers and parental unit/caregivers that can attend each class. Initially, I’d said, 20 should be the max number, but in order to be more flexible, I said that we could make it work with 30.
“We’ll have a sign-up sheet for each week which we won’t put out until the week before each class. I’m going to limit the ages to 2-3 year olds only this session and make sure to check at the door…” Ms. Librarian said.
(Is she a bouncer?! Do 2-3 year olds carry I.D.s? Would Moms start a black market business of whipping up fake I.D.’s so their 4 year olds actually appear to be younger and can attend my class?!)
“Also,” Ms. Librarian continued, “I’m not going to advertise the class until shortly before it starts, we just can’t handle having too many… we just can’t have…”
“Rioting?” I offered.
“Yes,” Ms. Librarian agreed. “So, if you could also not tell anyone about the class. Don’t mention it on your website, and especially don’t tell your students from the previous library classes. I don’t want your following here taking the spots away from the Yuppy Island children.”
I assured her that a.) I don’t have a website, b.) I don’t typically see any of my previous library students – except for the occasional random, public sighting when I’m approached and asked for an autograph (not really, but I have had people come up to me at the grocery story or library and say, “Aren’t you Ms. Jenny?! We took your class a few years ago…”). Besides c.) those children would all be in preschool or Kindergarten now anyway. Not much of a following. Then, being the savvy business woman that I’ve become, I suggested that, is she’s really concerned about accommodating so many students, they could always book me for two back-to-back classes on each of the four Wednesdays. That way we could provide music to 60 of the young Yuppy Islanders.
“You know, I wish we could, but you’re very expensive. You’re cleaning out our 2012 budget.” I mumbled something about how I’m totally worth it and we signed off the phone.
A few weeks later, Ms. Librarian called again in a TOTAL panic.
“I don’t know how this happened, but someone LEAKED the news about your class and it’s all over. It was published in the Yuppy Island Preschool Association’s newsletter…hundreds of families now know about you coming here!”
I tried to reassure her, especially since our first class was the day before Thanksgiving, but I’m pretty sure the poor woman was about to have a nervous breakdown.
As for Rebecca’s and my conversation about my celebrity status…She had helpful tips suggesting that I come in with all sorts of Diva demands like “I’ll need an iced Perrier with two slices of lemon…the room should be kept at 67 degrees…” etc.
Finally, the first day of class arrived. I got to the library way freakishly earlier than I needed to primarily to appease Ms. Librarian. It only takes me about five minutes to set-up but I knew she’d be having a fit if it was getting closer to class time and I wasn’t there yet.
As I set up my stuff, she tried – she tried so very hard – to be helpful. But I’ve realized, I’ve done this for long enough now, I’m kind of a well-oiled machine.
As I pulled out my box of egg shakers she said, “We have some egg shakers that you’re welcome to use.”
“Oh, thanks, I think I’ll have more than enough though. I brought enough for 30+ kids.”
I pulled out my little boombox. “You can use our stereo if you’d like.”
“That’s OK. Thank you. I’ve got mine all ready to go. Thanks!”
I pulled out my water bottle. “Can I get you some water or anything?” (And yes, she WAS watching me do all this before she asked).
“Um, nope, I’m set, thanks.”
“Is there anything you’d like?” Ms. Librarian asked.
I looked at her and completely seriously said, “I’d really love a backrub.”
She paused – startled for a minute, “Oh—“
“I’m kidding,” I quickly said. “Nope, I’m fine, thanks for the help though.”
Anyway, that first class that we (she) was so very worried about was a piece of cake. And, because it WAS the day before Thanksgiving it was not a crazy mass hoard of rioting mothers and toddlers at all. We actually only had about 20 kiddos plus their adult chaperone. After class, as I packed up my stuff, Ms. Librarian chattered on and on about how great it was and how she loved all the early literacy components that I included (she said the same thing to me after every class).
“I do wish we could have you more, but you’re just so expensive and we don’t have anything left in the budget…”
(Yeah, you’ve mentioned that before, I thought).
Each week went about the same, she’d introduce me and say that my program was provided by the wonderful Friends of the Yuppy Island, and “Now, let’s all give Ms. Jenny a warm welcome,” and everyone would clap while I smiled and nodded awkwardly. And then each class went smashingly well followed by Ms. Librarian raving to me about how great it was – kind of ad naseum. After my last class on Wednesday, she handed me a small envelope and then proceeded to tell me that it was a thank you note and went on to explain the contents. I will say though, Ms. Librarian, does seem to be acting upon her admiration. She asked if she can tell all of the other library branches about my program and highly recommend it. I can imagine what she’d said, “Ms. Jenny’s program is great….etc….but she is a little pricey…” But then hopefully, after experiencing it four times and raving about it she WILL add, “But she’s worth every penny.”
STARS! THEY'RE JUST LIKE US!
They attend their child's 1st grade music concert.
(Photo snapped by Paparazzi photographer, Matthew, age 9).