In the fifth grade I played the role of Uncle Sam in a patriotic school play. Most of my time on stage I just stood at attention while other things went on around me. My costume came with a commercial kit of supplies for the play, except for Uncle Sam’s long, flowing white hair. A teacher made me a skull cap out of a nylon stocking and lined it around the edge with pieces of gray wool yarn for my hair.
What the teachers didn’t realize until the dress rehearsal, was that as part of my performance I had to doff my hat in a flamboyant bow.
With the whole school present at the dress rehearsal I made my great sweeping bow. The gray wool hung down around my ears. The loosely stitched skull cap had a hole in the top. I looked bald, with a heavy gray wool fringe and a tuft of my own dark hair standing straight up from the top of my head.
All the schoolkids giggled.
The teachers were shocked. It was a good thing that it was only a dress rehearsal, so the parents didn’t see it.
Afterward, the teachers all gathered around me and had me raise my hat and bow.
They all burst out laughing.
They had me do my bow over and over again. Each time they burst out laughing. I must have looked like a circus clown.
Anyway, they added more gray yarn to the wig, covering the whole top.
I guess it still looked a little silly, because when they had me do my bow with the newly fashioned wig, they still chuckled a bit.
We did the performance that evening. I bowed and doffed my hat.
Nobody laughed. Except for the teachers in the back of the auditorium, who couldn’t help snickering.