Losing Neverland


The year of the pirate ship came about with the prom theme of Neverland. Different sectors of the fine arts building turned into stations of Neverland with the focal point being a large, cardboard ship that measured eight feet tall and sixteen feet long. But as any of you who have ever sailed the high seas know, where there is a ship, there is also a danger of mutiny.

As with any grandiose item the children order, they are always alight with enthusiasm right up until the moment we lift the lid on the box and actually see what building the decorative miracle will entail.  Four of my juniors stood around like kids waiting for a crack at a piñata, all itching to get their hands on the contents inside.  I instructed them to hang back until I located the instructions so we could see what we were up against. We were up against a jagged, brick wall that was sturdy enough to double as that structure just outside of China, as it turns out.

The estimated assembly time for the Jolly Roger was a mere six hours, but that timeframe required a team of four and given the size of our school and the junior class, that was half of my prom committee. I made the executive decision to trim this crew to three since the waterfall and big tree also needed some attention, and a deep intuition told me that we weren’t getting out of there even a second before midnight no matter what, so we might as well try to pace ourselves.

Two hours later the ship was giving three sailors fits. One had taken on the role of captain and kept shouting orders about how to lift tabs and affix labels, but command was far easier than execution and the girls kept losing their grip on the cardboard that was supposed to morph into the bow. Captain Katie finally approached me.

“It’s no use, Ms. Carver. We need to call in reinforcements if we’re going to get this ship together.”

“You were thinking Special Forces?  The Coast Guard?  A portion of the Navy?”

“I was thinking of my parents.”

“Make it so, Number One.”

The parents arrived brimming with confidence and eagerness to help. It took approximately 45 minutes to deplete both of those emotions down to the dregs. The dad peeled out of the parking lot as he went for power tools, and everyone abandoned ship until he returned armed with a measuring tape, a staple gun, and a cordless drill. We were four hours in, and the Jolly Roger couldn’t even stand by itself, much less tackle the seas or pillage other ships.  It was a sea craft in need of Geritol.

All you need for a successful prom . . . if only it came with a spare sanity pack

All you need for a successful prom . . . if only it came with a spare sanity pack

At this point I should note that when I ordered the ship of everyone’s dreams that I did look at the dot code label for assembly. Assembly difficulty is rated on a five dot scale with a red dot being so easy a rutabaga could stitch it together and a purple dot so challenging that a team of nuclear physicists, engineers and biochemists come in the box to offer assistance. This ship was one dot below the most advanced level. I guess somewhere in the catalogue I had missed a set of pyramids that require 15,000 indentured servants and a gross of stone chisels to construct the 30,000 cardboard blocks they’ll send you.

As the clock crept toward 10:00, my prom committee started to slip away with lame excuses about needing to sleep for the SAT they were taking the next day, and I was left with my captain and two other girls who had the greatness of mind to schedule their academic endeavors on a different weekend. The cordless drill was getting a real workout, and the dad was already on the spare battery pack as that ship finally grew tired of listing to one side and found the inner pride to take a stand in the deep blue sea that my girls had created out of a blue tarp and little Christmas twinkle lights. Even the parents had adopted the personas of pirates as I heard a great deal of salty language coating the decks as periodic debates ensued about the merits of double-sided tape over a staple gun.

Sometime around midnight we were ready to set sail, and by the time the mast was erected, we were clearing 1:00am. A couple of exhausted parents packed up their supplies with a vow to never, never, never return to Neverland again.

© 2013 – Traci Carver


7 responses »

  1. I would love to see a photo of the ship (after prom of course, would hate to spoil the surprise for anyone).

    Keep writing Traci, your fan club love it!

    • Thanks for reading, George. I wish I had a pic of that infamous ship, but it sailed away a few years ago, never to be seen again . . . except for the occasional nightmare.

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