Friday Night Comedy Hour: The Star-Spangled Banner

I'm not sure if she was asked or decided on her own, but Mikaela didn't hesitate to jump to her feet and volunteer the four of us from Andover to sing for the Hindi class we visited at Cathedral, the school of our hosts. I couldn't let her sing alone, so stood, but I'd only sing, I told myself, if Armaan and Meaghan came up as well. Intelligently, they refused at first, but the pressure of eighty eyes watching dragged them to their feet and to the front of the room. And so, what to sing? The Andover Song? Absolutely not. We are the World? Fitting but cliche, and we didn't all know it. A pop song? We couldn't find one that we all knew. We realized quickly this would be a challenge. Someone yelled something about the national anthem -- I don't know if it was one of us, or one of the Cathedralites, nor do I know which nation's anthem they were referring to -- and before we could stop ourselves we announced that we would be singing the star spangled banner to the class. In some kind of eerie unison that must have somehow been planned, all rose, some with hands over hearts, and all eyes on us. Even the instructor rose from her desk and joined the class on her feet. Oh god. Before we began, MIkaela looked around for a flag -- an American one -- momentarily forgetful of our continental displacement. Needless to say, she didn't find one. And so, we began, our voices all out of tune and dissonant, struggling to begin on the low notes of "Oh say can you see!..." The bell rang. We didn't realize that it was signifying the end of class, and no one seemed to make an attempt to leave, so we continued. The classroom, being un-air-conditioned and in Mumbai, had open doors and windows into the parallel halls on either side of it, and as the classes emptied out the halls filled with more curious faces to watch the four of us embarrass ourselves. I noticed some judging glares from some, and some laughter and smiles from others. We knew how awful our singing was from a previous unfortunate rendition of Call Me Maybe at the Intercontinental Hotel a couple nights before. So we continued on, leaving, no doubt, a great impression on our hosts, with the echoes and rings of our highly skilled voices and a beautiful representation of our country. Or at least, we like to think so.