Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Lost Little Mermaid

Somewhere in my belongings there is a picture of me as a mermaid.

The grade school I attended, Hallsville Elementary in Manchester, NH, produced a musical theatre extravaganza every year.  

One year, the play was based on American music through the decades.  I was in the third grade and after auditioning was selected to sing a solo of a song featured in the movie Flashdance, “What a Feeling.”  

Another girl who had auditioned, who was in fifth grade, was not happy that a baby third grader was given this solo and was looking for a fight the day the parts were announced. She called me a slut, which is inappropriate in more ways than one, since I was 8 or 9 years old at the time. Luckily, my best friend and bodyguard Jill, (she’s 3 years older than me) threatened her with swift retribution so she backed down.

For the performance, I wore black leggings, a large sweatshirt and leg warmers. With my curly permed hair pulled up into a high ponytail, I was the picture of 80’s cool.

While I sang "What a Feeling," a sixth grade girl performed a dance solo, mimicking choreography from the famous Flashdance scene, minus the chair and bucket of water splashing down on her. This was a grade school production after all, not a strip club.

My fifth grade year was the mermaid year.

The theme for the production was Disney movie music. The Little Mermaid had been released recently and every young girl wanted to be Ariel, myself included. I was surprised, but very excited when I was picked to sing my favorite, and now requisite Disney heroine ballad of yearning, “Part of Your World.”

For modesty’s sake or because it was the only option, my mermaid costume was one piece; flesh colored matte Lycra on top and sparkly green woven plastic material on the bottom, with a zipper down the back. The bottom was like a skirt, but had a very pronounced flipper at the end. The outfit was designed for a woman or girl with a longer torso, so the pearlized purple seashells sewn to the bodice portion ended up hanging over my rib cage, rather than my nonexistent bosom.

When it came time for the performance, I was wheeled onstage in a wagon by young sailors. I stood up, hobbled in front of the microphone (walking was difficult) and sang Ariel’s song.

I also remember standing on a boat constructed mostly of cardboard and chicken wire, where I was almost kissed on the cheek by a prepubescent Prince Erik during the “Kiss the Girl” scene. We were surrounded by children dressed as various sea creatures—starfish, oysters, lobsters, crabs, snails and fish.

There are two photos documenting this. One by myself, in all my goofy mermaid splendor, and the other of Prince Erik, all the sea creatures and I, standing on the cardboard boat.

But I can’t find them.

I’m pretty sure they're hidden somewhere very safe in my things. I’d like to rediscover them, and if I do, dear reader, you will be the first to see them.


  1. I love the story behind your story.... Now, I'm sure if you look hard enough you will find those photos tucked away somewhere in your childhood treasure box. This is a very entertaining story..

    1. thank you :) I'm hoping that the photos will turn up when/if we move. That's always a good time to sort and rediscover your belongings.