Last week, I survived my school’s Back to School night. For those unfamiliar, this is an evening in which parents and guardians come to the school, see the various classrooms and meet their students’ teachers. This year’s went much like it usually does in that it made for a very long night and week but was rewarding to not only meet so many parents but to hear that students are enjoying my class. One aspect of the night was a little different, though, and proof that sometimes my students do actually listen to me.
This year I tried a different activity for the first day of school after receiving feedback from former students that they wanted to know more about me. Basically, I came up with a list of various things about me, which included one lie. The kids then had to figure out which one wasn’t true. Of course, this list talked about some fun facts including where I was born, that a letter I wrote as a kid ended up on the radio, that I had an Elvis impersonator sing to me at college, and more. One fact I shared was that I had seen my favorite band in concert more than 50 times. Funny enough, many, many students picked that one as the fib. Their reasoning? “There is no way that you have seen one band that many times!” I think if I had said it was only 10 times, they wouldn’t have questioned it. Funny enough, that was not my lie. This led them to ask who the band was, where I saw them and more. Somehow I answered their questions, while feeling a little embarrassed and exposed but secretly hoping that they might check out Duran Duran themselves.
Apparently, some students took this fact and shared it with their parents as I had a parent ask me about it, which was definitely a first. After finding out which periods of US History I cover (1865-1945, by the way), she then asked out of nowhere, “Have you really seen Duran Duran over 50 times?” I almost choked. Instead, I nodded while smiling slightly, hoping that would be the end of it. Unfortunately, she followed up with, “Wow. How is that even possible? I mean, I would get it if it was the Rolling Stones or the Grateful Dead but Duran Duran?” There was a lot that I could have responded to but I focused in on the how. I explained that I travel. Then, quickly, I added about how great summer tours are so that I can go to many shows. After all, I didn’t want her to think I neglect my kiddos by going on tour during the school year (which sometimes I do). She nodded as I said this before responding with, “You would have to!” Again, I wondered what the heck she meant by that. I couldn’t ponder too long as more parents entered the room.
Interestingly enough, I had a similar question the next day with a new colleague. After a meeting in which my blogging came up, he confessed to me that he had, indeed, checked out the blog. Again, I found myself uncertain with how to respond. Do I thank him? Do I ask him what he thought? Do I try to move to a different topic? I gave some non-statement about how that was cool or something. Much like the parent, my colleague said, “It looks really hardcore and for such a niche band,” implying that there are not a lot of Duran Duran fans.
Normally, after interactions like this, I dissect my reaction, my statements and wonder if I responded as I should have. This time, however, I was left thinking about the assumption that both the parent and my colleague made. They believe that Duran Duran is not a big band or not that popular. The parent has no idea of how often Duran Duran plays shows. Yes, I suppose, in fairness, that she might think this because they don’t play in Wisconsin (the last time was 2005). If I was waiting for them to come here, I would be waiting a long time. Maybe she doesn’t know anyone who is willing to drive to see a band, forget about flying to see a show. Beyond that part, she also implied that the band isn’t big enough to have people traveling to see them. They aren’t equal to the Rolling Stones or the Grateful Dead in her mind. Now, I recognize that non-fans do not know what I know, but still. It bothered me. Don’t put down Duran Duran. Of course, Duranies would travel to see them. Did I defend them in this way? No.
I didn’t even defend Duran Duran with my colleague who I don’t have to prove myself in the same way that I might with a parent. With both conversations, I left feeling frustrated and sad that they don’t know how many serious fans Duran Duran has even now. They are worthy of traveling to shows. They deserve to have people like Rhonda and myself writing a blog about them. Heck, it isn’t like we are the only ones out there who spread the word about Duran Duran. There are other blogs, facebook groups, message boards, podcasts, and more. Our fan community isn’t that small, right?
It amazes me that after interactions like these, all I want to do is to defend the band. Have you ever been in situations like these? Have you defended your fandom? Your favorite band?