The only speaking role I've ever had in any type of theatrical production was in 1980, when I appeared as "Bell No. 1" in my kindergarten Christmas program. (Yes, back then public schools still had "Christmas" programs and nobody got sued).
Five of us were bells. We all wore big red bows and held triangles. The rest of the class said, "Five little bells, hanging in a row. The first bell said ..." That was my cue to step forward, ding my triangle, and say, "RING ME SLOW!"
Let me tell you, I totally nailed my line. I was the Meryl Streep of "Ring me slow." I was that bell, and everyone in the room believed that I wanted to ring. Slowly. My mom still brags to people about "Ring me slow". Unfortunately, this was the peak of my theatrical career. I never had another speaking role. I did play the dog catcher in a sixth-grade production of "Annie", but I didn't have any lines, and my dog-catching pantomime never quite reached the acting excellence that was "Ring me slow."
I've never been able to remember the rest of this bell poem. It took a lot of energy to concentrate on "Ring me slow." I do remember that one of the bells said, "I'm like a chime", because the "I'm like a chime" girl could never remember her lines during rehearsal. Finally one day she ad-libbed and said, "Ring me in China!" and she was immediately replaced. I believe she was banished to holding up a sign that said "Five Little Bells."
I've never heard the poem since. I've wondered if maybe the kindergarten teacher made it up because she needed to find parts in the Christmas program for five extra kids -- six, if you count the sign-holder.
Yesterday, WCK's Scholastic book order came in. I'd ordered her a CD and book with a whole bunch of Christmas songs and rhymes for kids. As I scanned the list of songs I saw -- yes!!!-- "Five Little Bells"! I rushed to find the track on the CD player and called WCK over. "Remember how I was a bell in my kindergarten play?" I said. WCK, of course, remembers. She has been hearing the "Ring me slow" story for years.
I played the rhyme for her, and she was pretty impressed for about a minute. Then she left to go do something else. I guess she doesn't appreciate the theater.
I'll post the complete rhyme, so it can live on through my blog:
Five little bells, hanging in a row.
The first one said, "Ring me slow."
The second one said, "Ring me fast."
The third one said, "Ring me last."
The fourth one said, "I'm like a chime."
The fifth one said, "Ring us all at Christmas time!"