I went off to kindergarten with a Neil Young single in my plastic yellow tote bag. It was my first musical purchase, and as an added bonus, it was Show-and-Tell Day at Carlisle Elementary School. I had saved my allowance for weeks in order to buy the 25cent record, and I felt an overwhelming urge to enlighten my peers with the heartfelt nasal twang of "Heart of Gold." I felt it was important to prepare them for the more important things in life--something more than teddy bears and finger-paints.
I squirmed in my seat, anxious for the moment when Miss Boswell would call upon me to go to the front of the class with my golden Warner Brothers label treasure. I could just picture the astonished looks on the faces of the other kids when they heard this song. I imagined their eyes gleaming with delight (as mine surely did), and yearned to see them feel the magic and begin to sway with the same glee I felt when listening to it. I knew they would be unable to contain their joy, and we'd happily spend the rest of the day laughing and dancing, instead of settling down to the required naptime.
After enduring an endless parade of baby dolls, Hot Wheels and, oddly, an egg-shaped pantyhose container brought in by Patti T, Miss Boswell finally called my name. I scrambled to the front of the room, rambling breathlessly to the class about what a wonderful singer Neil Young was. Miss Boswell smiled patiently and nodded as she pried the gleaming single from my sweaty little hands and placed it on the close'n'play. She sent me back to my seat as the first strands of THE WRONG SONG burst from the tiny speaker.
In a panic, I leapt from my chair, knowing full well that "Sugar Mountain" was NOT going to change anyone's life. This wasn't how it was supposed to be! Everyone was supposed to hear "Heart of Gold" and grin giddily, then gather around me to pat my back and tell me how great I was for showing them the light.Instead, "Sugar Mountain" was pouring from the box and I was screaming at Miss Boswell "Turn it over! That's the wrong song Miss Boswell! Take it off! TAKE IT OFF!!"
I could feel my legs trembling and I knew I had to stop the song before further damage was done. I made a grab for the close'n'play but Miss Boswell was too quick. She caught me by the arm and gave me that kindergarten teacher glare. "Do NOT raise your voice to me young lady! We will hear the other side when this side is finished. Now sit down and behave."
The damage was done. I slumped into my chair, defeated. I could feel my face burning, and it was all I could do to hold back the tears. I was certain that by the time "Sugar Mountain" ended three minutes later, all hopes of those 19 kids appreciating the fine songmanship of "Heart of Gold" would be gone.
I had failed.
Even when Miss Boswell flipped the record over and Neil's gentle harmonica peeked cautiously out of the speaker, no one even seemed to notice."I wanna live, I wanna give. I've been a miner for a heart of gold."
I glanced around the room, holding my breath that someone would feel the magic and rise up to begin the mass gathering around me. But it didn't happen.
"Keeps me searchin' for a heart of gold, and I'm gettin' old."
It was obvious that no one in Miss Boswell's morning kindergarten class had a heart of gold. Kim stared at a flickering overhead light while chewing her hair. Jimmy picked at a scab on his left elbow. Patti twisted and turned the two halves of her egg.
The rest of the class stared wide-eyed at me for yelling at the teacher.