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Welcome to the new improved Minooka TAP website!!!

January 17, 2011

If an Apple is the Symbol of a Teacher – This is the Story of the Apple Turnover

I guess there’s no better way to start up our new website than to share some of the best things about our program.  So, that’s exactly what we’ll do.  You might think that would entail giving you a list of inspirational quotes, or attempting to cram your brain full of interesting tidbits of information we’ve gathered on our travels, or maybe, just maybe, you think we’d do some sort of Top 10 list, like we’re the David Lettermans of Educational Travel or some such ridiculous thing.

No.

No to all of those things.

Not a permanent, forevery type no, mind you.  Someday we might try to inspire you or teach you or give you cool, funny lists.  This is just a no for right now.

Right now you need to be warned.

Right now, at this moment, I need to share with you one simple fact.  Minooka TAP is cursed.

I don’t know if it’s a witch doctor type curse, or perhaps there’s a TAP voodoo doll out there somewhere that people are throwing against the wall and flushing down toilets, or maybe we didn’t allow someone’s pet goat into our group at some point and they’ve chanted spooky sounding things to a volcano asking the world to spit in our Cheerios for the rest of eternity.

It doesn’t matter how, why, or who.  What matters is the fact that we, as a group, have this obnoxious curse following us all over the globe.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself – Self, why in the world do I want to travel with this cursed group?

The answer.  Comedy.

Let me set your mind at ease a bit – actually, let me set your parents’ minds at ease.  You have nothing to worry about.  Students, parents, grandmas, family friends… they are all safe from the curse.  This particular curse is only affecting the Minooka TAP teachers, and this particular curse is a nasty one.  No, it’s not fatal – no one has died.  No, it’s not one that makes you turn into a small amphibian that sings show tunes.  No, it doesn’t turn you all ogre looking by day and into a beautiful princess by night.  This one is worse.  This particular curse makes people fall down.

You heard me.  That’s right.  It makes people fall down.

Specifically, it makes TAP teachers take embarrassingly ridiculous falls in very public places during each and every one of our trips.

For the teachers who are waiting, knowing someday the curse will hit them, this is awful.  The anticipation kills us.

For you, it’s potentially hilarious.

Allow me to elaborate.

Germany 2007.  Mrs. Bailey, a very nice history teacher from the local junior high school, was ushering students back on to the bus after our first dinner in Berlin.  I witnessed this event from a bird’s eye view, sitting comfortably in my seat in the two story tour bus.  While I was contemplating how odd it was that a group of American travelers had just eaten chicken parmigiana, a wonderful Italian dish, in a Russian restaurant in the German capital – secretly hoping that I could get the group to agree that it was Swiss Cheese atop our chicken patties so that I could throw another random country into the odd meal – I looked out the bus window to see Mrs. B make the first major mistake of her international travel life.

The bus was sitting curbside on a very narrow street.  There wasn’t any traffic, but if any decided to show up, we’d surely be blocking it, so Mrs. B had a sense of urgency.  The students, their American bellies stuffed to brim with German/Russian/Italian/(and potentially Swiss) chicken products, were taking their time walking through the parking lot, down a ways to a break in the short draped chain fence.  Mrs. Bailey wasn’t having any of this.  She did not have time for the group to walk 30 feet across the lot, go around the two foot fence (which was a series of iron posts – about two and half feet tall – connected by a loosely draped chain, that, in the middle, was only about 18 inches off the ground).

Still in the bus, pondering whether or not I could convince the kids that the weird potatoes we had just eaten should be considered French Fries, I distinctly recall hearing Mrs. Bailey shout – “C’mon guys.  We gotta go.  Just jump over this chain and hurry up.”  Somewhere in between thoughts of Spanish Rice and Swedish Fish, my jet lagged brain still managed to register that this was about to be a very entertaining and important moment for our group.  International cuisine fell to the back part of my brain and all my focus went to the young teacher who was already tensing up, much like a cat who wants to be on top of the fridge, preparing for her jump over the chain.

Just so you know, cats sometimes miss.

When I was in college, my roommate had a cat that had an obsession with watching me brush my teeth.  On one particular morning, that cat, intent on catching the glob of minty spit that I spat into the sink after brushing, leapt from the edge of the bathtub.  Her plan was to pounce onto the lid of the toilet, and push off from there, meeting my foamy loogie in mid-flight.  Her plan failed, because the toilet lid was up.  She fell right in the bowl and hit her chin on the edge.  Her belly and paws soaked, she strolled down the hall, glaring at me like I did something idiotic like jump in a toilet, but looking as cool and calm as only a cat soaked in potty water can be.

Now if something as agile as a cat can miss an easy two step jump from tub to toilet to mid-air-foamy-toothpaste-spit-

glob, then a 25 year old social studies teacher/cheerleading coach stands no chance jumping over a German fence in the parking lot of a Russian restaurant after eating an assortment of cultural foods.

For a second it was as if the world slowed down.  For a brief moment in time I was like the kung-fu dude from The Matrix with special time bending powers.  That’s only happened a few times to me, where I feel as if I’m seeing things in slow motion, and I sincerely thank whatever higher power is out there for making it slow down at that moment, because it was awesome.  Let me preface the fall that’s about to occur and my insensitivity by saying that no social studies teachers were injured severely in the course of this story.  It’s funny because in the end, everyone survives, but it’s really funny because for half of half of a second that was in question.

Mrs. Bailey, using very little of whatever training a cheerleading coach undergoes before being given the keys to the pom pom cabinet, jumped.  As soon as she got off the ground, I could see by the look in her eyes that she knew it wasn’t going to end pretty.  In her eyes I saw fear – not the kind of fear you see in a horror movie when someone’s being chased by a psychopath, and not the kind of fear you see on a little kid’s face when some weird aunt they don’t remember swoops in for a big nasty smooch, and not the kind of fear you see in someone who knows they’re about to get hurt, like a ballplayer watching a fastball zooming towards his noggin – I’m talking about embarfearsment.  Complete and total embarfearsment.  Like the kind of fear of embarrassment you get when you’re about to fart in a room full of friends, and you’re hoping that it comes out either really quiet or sounds like it came from across the room, and you know that everyone is going to realize it was you, and you pray that it doesn’t smell like old eggs or dirty stank feet or something else awful so that the embarfearsment goes away quickly, but you know that you’re really about to get ridiculed by everyone mercilessly, and the nickname “Nasty Feet Egg Farter” will follow you around for the rest of high school.  That was the kind of fear I could see in Mrs. B’s eyes as her poorly timed leap continued.

The next moment her face changed.  It was now a full on look of “oh poo.”  The bad thing she was fearing would happen had begun to happen and there was nothing she could do to prevent it from continuing to happen, so the “oh poo” look faded quickly into one of submission, almost a “bring it on, I can take your worst” kind of look.  Only I don’t think Mrs. Bailey was really prepared to take the worst from that German sidewalk that she was headed towards.

The “oh poo” look coincided with Mrs. B’s foot catching on the chain as she tried to jump over it.  There might have been a millisecond when she thought she would walk away unscathed, but then the chain really hooked on her foot – a luckier person, a person that wasn’t dealing with a curse, would have been able to bend her knee, freeing her foot from the chain, but Mrs. Bailey’s natural reaction was to kick outward to try and maintain her balance.  This was bad.  The chain pulled taught as she continued up and started to fall forward.  And before you knew it, our impatient little history teacher who wanted to take a short cut over the fence, was really over the fence.

Outside of a few moments in NFL highlight tackles and a brutal sledding accident I had with a kid named Ed, I’ve not seen many people unintentionally fly through the air upside down, but that evening I did.  Gravity, momentum, centrifugal force, just about every other law of physics, AND one very angry curse all worked against Mrs. B.  She flipped heels over head, doing a complete rotation through the German air, and landed with a sickening thud on the pavement.

As I replay the moment in my mind, I can clearly see the students watching in disbelief as their teacher got airborne, lost control, and crash landed.  The kids stood, jaws agape, eyes wide.  Some of them started towards her to help, some stood there in shock, and one kid (who I clearly saw), who must have been a couch potato of the highest order, had the natural reaction to reach for a DVR remote that wasn’t there to rewind the moment.

For just a moment it wasn’t funny.  This was one of those times where you have to check to see if they’re alright before you can laugh kinda moments.  You know what I’m talking about – an able bodied adult falling = funny, but if it’s an elderly lady slipping on the ice = scary.  This was neither of those.  This was like a little kid wiping out big time on his Big Wheel.  There’s a pause from all the adults around him before anyone reacts.  Why the pause?  The grown-ups are all waiting to see how the kid reacts.  If he’s crying, it’s bad.  If he’s not – we all laugh so that he doesn’t start crying.

It was probably less than a second before we knew, but she sat there on the sidewalk, red faced, clearly shaken for long enough that she gave me enough time to think to myself, “I hope we don’t have to carry her places for the rest of the trip.”

Then, she erupted.

There’s some phrase about “if you can’t laugh at yourself…” but it’s not worth finishing, because Mrs. Bailey laughed at herself.  I mean laugh out loud, cheeks hurting, tears out the eyes kind of laughing.  I’d say there was literally ROTFLMAO, but the rolling on the floor caused the laughing, not the other way around, and the ‘A’  was in danger of falling off more from the fall than the laughter, so it was more of a Rolling on the Floor Which Almost Led to My ‘A’ Falling Off, and if it Wasn’t Falling Off, There Would at Least be a Pretty Nasty ‘A’ Bruise, Which Has Caused Much Laughing and Continued Rolling on the Floor That is Now Such a Raucous Laughter that I May Just Laugh My ‘A’ Right Off Afterall.  However, ROTFWALTMAFOAIIWFOTWALBAPNABWHCMLACROTFTINSARLTIMJLMAROA is a ridiculously long acronym that I really don’t thing will ever catch on quite like ROTFLMAO.  No matter, the laughter was there.  Lots and lots of laughter.  So much so that we were all suddenly at ease, able to laugh with her, and a little bit at her.

In the end, she dusted herself off, climbed aboard the bus, and endured 25 teenagers each telling the story of her flight from their point of view.  She took it all in stride, even though she walked a little funny the next few days, and questioned whether or not her insurance would cover German tailbone x-rays.

Me, I sat silently in my seat trying to figure out if Chinese Spring Roll could some how be worked into the food/fall story.  If only Mrs. B was Asian, it would have worked so much better.

Looking back, it was probably a good thing that she had her little accident.  It loosened up the group, gave us our first real common shared experience, and was filed away as a cautionary tale for future trips.  It wasn’t until a year later, on our next trip, that we realized it wasn’t an accident – that TAP was cursed.

Next time, come back to see how the curse attacked another teacher, injuring an entirely different butt, a year later in Greece.

by Mr. Curtis

If anyone has any fun TAP stories they’d like to share, there’s a comments section below.  Best comment wins a prize.  If anyone has any pictures of that first night in Berlin, we’d really love for you to share them.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Andra permalink
    January 17, 2011 11:01 pm

    the ROTFWALTMAFOAIIWFOTWALBAPNABWHCMLACROTFTINSARLTIMJLMAROA part mustve taken 4eva to do!!!! (yes ik its not a story but im workin on that part. btw am i allowed to tell a story about a time in one of the tap meetingsthat u told a story?)

  2. Kelly Karner (Hannah Schram's Mom) permalink
    January 18, 2011 3:34 pm

    Great story! Poor Mrs. B. I was LMAO (can I say that?) Anyway, we are looking forward to the story of who was cursed in Ireland. I heard it was someone you know REALLY well.

  3. Drew Burjek permalink
    January 18, 2011 9:04 pm

    If only Mrs.Bailey was Asian, the story would be epic. I could only think about her face as she would be falling, and how she would react after a Chinese Spring Role with a whole bowl of soy sauce… ROTFWALTMAFOAIIWFOTWALBAPNABWHCMLACROTFTINSARLTIMJLMAROA
    wouldn’t be a big enough acronym to describe it, and it will probably catch on.

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