How Dry I Am
February 7, 2006

May 25, 1977.

Oh yeah, some of you geeks already know what this post is about now. Some of you are wondering why in the world I would type that date up there. It's not my birthday ... it's not an important date to anyone in my family.

That May was the end of second grade for me ... the end of the grand Catholic school experiment which had failed utterly and miserably. And, it was also the time period that I got to see my first, real, grown-up movie ... my first PG movie. At first, this movie showed on less than 40 screens around the U.S. In fact, many cinemas had to be bullied into taking the film at all.

This was, of course, Star Wars.

Now, I'm not going to yammer on about how this movie changed my life ... it didn't ... or how it was the greatest movie since Metropolis ... it wasn't ... or even beat that dead horse, which of the movies was the best ... Return of the Jedi, but I'm in the minority here ... instead, I'm going to go back to storytelling.

You see, about six weeks into third grade, we moved to the hated Arlington, Texas. And Butler Elementary. I loathed that school. And, I did not want to make new friends yet again. I had physcially moved 7 times before starting kindgergarten ... and then switched from Pillow to St. Louis to Pillow and now Butler between kindergarten and third grade. I was really tired of making new friends only to leave them again quickly, so I was hanging back a bit at the new school.

I was first introduced to Carrie by a few teachers who thought we'd get along swell, but I rapidly fell in with Tracy and Jill instead. And before too long, we had begun attempting to stage Star Wars during recess.

Now, you have to understand, this is Texas and it must have been spring before we really got this rolling ... nearly a year after the movie had originally come out. It was warm and we had plenty of dried out dirt all around us ... kind of like Tatooine. In fact, here's a shot from GoogleLocal of the school:

Things started out simply enough. The three of us began trying to figure out who would play which role. Obviously, there just weren't enough of us. And none of us wanted to play Darth Vader anyway. So, Tracy invited one of the boys in to play Vader. And then another wanted to be a stormtrooper.

And of course, the fight over who was made to be Luke and who got to be Han.

Of course, everyone wanted to be one of the main characters instead of some random droid or bounty hunter.

Naturally, I had to develop more subplots to accommodate our growing cast.

Soon, I began humming a song while directing the cast of about 50-80 kids (depending on the day) began playing out their assigned roles.

"What's that song you keep humming?"

And this is the only scene I can now recall from the Butler Elementary School third grade production of the much expanded and completely non canonical version of Star Wars.

"Okay, okay, I need Darth Vader and Princess Leia over here."

Two kids scurry across the dirt field.

"Okay, so this is the part where you're gonna interrogate Leia, right?"

Darth Vader nods gleefully. Leia is less than amused.

"Okay, but we're going to do this a little different. See Leia smuggled in some whiskey and she tricks Vader into drinking it."

Both of the other kids are grinning ear to ear now ... "And you're gonna come out of the interrogation all drunk and stuff ... and singing this song." I stopped and whistled a bit of it.

"What is that song?"

"How dry I am." I had seen the name on the bottom of a music box that was shaped like a martini shaker.

And that's how we played it. For about three days we rehearsed the drunken Vader and Leia scene until we had nearly all of the 180 kids in the third grade either rehearsing some part of the movie or in stitches as we had Leia and Vader stumbling out of their "cell" together, shoulder to shoulder, hiccuping like professional B-Movie veterans.

"How ... hiccup ... dry I ... hiccup ... am hiccup."

I don't think we ever tried to give that song more lyrics than that name I'd read on the bottom of the music box.

And, of course, after the third day of rehearsing this "scene," one of the teachers ambled over to watch. She made some snide comment or another about pretending to be drunk, but then wandered back off, leaving us to figure out what to do with our army of Han Solos, the reluctantly whiny Luke and the slew of girls that Lucas had not scripted for us.

Odd, when you think about it really ... we gave Luke more than a few sisters since they all wanted to date Han ... and we had Leia having drinkies with her dad. Funny what we knew even before the remaining films and books and comics and such were out!

Even more amazing when you think about it ... we got about 50-80 kids ... half of the grade level ... to play the same game for about three weeks, all together.

I guess it was an amazing movie after all to have sparked that kind of imagination and interest in that many kids.

Posted by Red Monkey at February 7, 2006 11:01 AM | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


EF said:

Wow. Just imagine if you had turned to the dark side. You could have ruled that school with an iron fist.
And, in your next production, I wanna be a wookie.

February 7, 2006 7:51 PM


otilius said:

See how The Force brings us together, if we let it? Do or do not--there is not try.

February 7, 2006 9:19 PM


Moody Loner said:

That, Ender, was laugh-out-loud funny.

Drunk Vader.

February 8, 2006 10:00 AM


Jeffrey said:

Wonderful post. Thanks for the memories, Ender.

February 10, 2006 12:28 PM


coolbeans said:

We played the same game. There were always far too many girls and if you were really lucky, you got to be Leia. If you were less lucky like me, you were Leah - Leia's less popular sister.

Brad (my crush from 1st Grade and forevermore) was always Luke or Han and I would have given my right arm to be Leia just once. JUST ONCE! Especially on the days he was Han. Gah!

February 16, 2006 11:28 AM


Rose Jones said:

I heard the song, "How dry I am" for years. I'm wondering if somewhere one could find the whole song. My mom sings it sometimes and it goes: How dry I am, (take a drink take a drink), How dry I am (take a drink take a drink), No body knows (take a drink take a drink), How dry I am!

I sold my shoes (take a drink take a drink), for a bottle of booze (take a drink take a drink), No body knows (take a drink take a drink) How dry I am!

August 31, 2008 10:53 PM


shari said:

i so rember this song. when i was 4 we lived in st paul mn on payne ave upstairs of porters bar. my "uncle" emil would stand me the bar and i would sing... i sold my shoes for a bottle of booze , nobody knows how dry i am etc. it would attact the ladies to him. emil wasn't my real uncle just a friend of the family. the year was 1947 or '48. guess parents were alot more trusting in those days. i was thinking of old songs this morn and that's what got me started...
i'am a loney little petunia in an onion patch...
climb up my rain barrel, slide down my cellar door....
fun... wish my memory was better

July 28, 2009 9:18 AM
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