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The Soundtrack of my Life

Popcorn by Hot Butter

Oh lordy, the 70s, you evil, fickle decade filled with tunes that will haunt me until my dying day. Especially those that were played in elementary school.

Every day, from Kindergarten until Grade 3 at Maplegrove Elementary School in Oakville, Ontario (I think, I don’t recall this after I ’rounded the corner of the hallway into Grade 4), we had morning announcements over the PA system that also included calisthenics. Or at least, something resembling calisthenics. I think this was an initiative of the Board of Education (whether mandated by the Province of Ontario, I have no idea) that required all children to … well, move.

Let’s face it, most kids in my era sat on their butts all day listening to lectures and being told how stupid they were. (Totally not speaking from experience. Nope. Nuh uh.) So someone had the bright idea that the day should start off with 10 minutes of listening to music and doing stretches and exercises that … did … well, something.

Anyway, two songs that stood out for me during this were Tony Orlando’s Tie A Yellow Ribbon, a song that meant zip to any of the kids in the room, nor do I think a single one of us ever bothered to listen to it outside of the school. The other was an instrumental called Popcorn.

The funny thing is, I didn’t know the name of this song for over twenty years. For two decades, I knew the tune, it would periodically pop up (no pun intended) in movies or TV shows (or commercials), and I would think back to those days in my horrific yellow and brown-stripped turtleneck shirt, swinging my arms about and bending to my toes (which, for six year olds, isn’t remotely a challenge).

I can’t help but think of the strangeness that I remember so very little from those early academic years, save for struggling with reading, my (still) horrific handwriting (I had to use one of those stupid triangular pencil grips to correct my habits, which I proudly still have today — the bad habits, that is, not the grips), ‘rithmatic (and ye gods was I bad at that, always getting help from Christine N., the smartest kid in the class, who wondered how I didn’t know what a “baker’s dozen” was), and the music that came over the PA system every morning.