HOW TO ORGANIZE AN ODD BALL EVENT AND NOT GET CAUGHT UNTIL IT’S FAR, FAR TOO LATE

For those who would like to attend an Odd Ball and are tired of waiting for someone else to organize one.

Well, to start you can always go through the proper channels, I suppose. Approach the student council, have them discuss it at a couple of meetings, hope they pass the request on to the teacher/student council liaison person who will then talk to the principal who will then send back his/her concerns to the student council who will then probably drop the project because it really wasn’t their idea in the first place. You could go that route. Or…

You could just pick a date and time. Thursdays before a Friday-off day seem to work well for some reason. Right after school or even lunchtime can be very successful too. You might want to check the gym schedule first in case something immovable is already booked—gym classes don’t count. I suggest not asking for permission, not right away. If it’s easy to say no, then principals usually do.

Once you have the date and time figured out, print some simple signs advertising the event. Make sure you include that it’s going to be an Odd Ball. This will get the interest started. Plaster bulletin boards and lockers with them. Don’t make these first signs too elaborate or expensive because you don’t have official sanctioning—approval from the man—yet. You can make better ones later.

Enlist a couple of friends to help you. This is probably the most important part of making a dance happen. Make sure they’re good friends on whom you can depend. Next, get three or four moms, dads or older sisters to call the school office answering machine and leave a message about wanting to help supervise at the upcoming dance. This will create a little confusion among the office staff since they won’t know anything about it yet, but it’s also a good way for the principal to start wondering about what’s going down.

At about the same time that the school secretary is trying to figure out what dance these callers are volunteering for, it’s time to approach the teachers you feel are most likely to help and ask them to be supervisors—you absolutely need at least three, four is better. If they ask you whether the principal is ok with it, you can honestly say that he knows about it and is waiting to see if enough help steps forward before giving the final stamp of approval. This is always the biggest stumbling block to having a school dance. Without voluntary teacher supervision, it won’t happen. Start your search with the newest teachers—ones holding temporary teaching positions are best. Work your way up from the youngest to the oldest teachers. Try asking them about their own experiences attending school dances. For example, “Ms. Wendlstadt, do you remember going to your school dances? What did you wear? Who did you dance with? Who do you wish you had danced with?” Ms. Wendlstadt will cave, trust me.

It’s right about this time that the principal will call you to his office and ask you what the heck this is all about. Explain to her or him that you’ve had this lifelong dream of organizing a school dance, but the problem was that you weren’t sure you had the confidence and/or ability to actually pull it off. So, before you bothered the ‘super-busy, and incredibly overworked’ principal about it, you thought you should see what you could organize on your own first.

Now is the time to pull out your list of teachers, parents and friends who have agreed to be there and help you. Only the coldest, black-hearted, child-hating principal would deny a rock-solid pitch like that. If, however, your principal happens to be one of those, be prepared to hang your head dejectedly and shed one single tear. A quivering bottom lip wouldn’t hurt either. Practice them all just in case.

Now that you have the dance sanctioned you can go all out with the advertising. Sometimes a little controversy gets more attention than good intentions. For that, I like to write on the posters “No Dates,” meaning that anyone planning to attend the dance should not come with a date because your date might get jealous when the Sarcastic Ball chooses you a different (better?) partner for the oddball dance. Although that might be discouraging to a few kids, way more kids will come just to see who the Sarcastic Ball will choose for them.

Once the dance starts, helping the Sarcastic Ball choose proper dance partners will determine how successful your efforts are. To make this work, you need to find someone in your school who is unusually sensitive to the harmonizing vibrations of the world around us. That person will be your Chooser. There is a 72% chance that you have at least one Chooser in your school. You should look for a kid who always seems to be listening for and watching things that no one else seems to see or hear. It could be a boy or a girl. One characteristic of such people that’s easy to spot is this: they’re never, ever a part of the in-crowd.


Once you’ve managed to find your Chooser, provide him or her with a list of the boys attending the dance, a list of the girls attending the dance and a Sarcastic Ball; then stand back. Make sure that your Chooser is given total control and, very importantly, your complete, unquestioning trust. That’s the only way it will happen as it should—and is, incidentally, the most fun.

The Chooser will require the aid of a competent Teller who possesses both a loud voice and decent handwriting—a rare combination of middle-school skills. You will also need a Taker, someone who manages a passing grade in math despite sleeping through half of Mr. Vanjani’s exciting, well-planned classes.

Be sure to remind everyone attending the dance that the oddball partners are only intended to be together for one dance…You don’t have to exchange spit with them or anything like that.

If you can’t find anyone willing to be the Chooser from within your school, another possibility is to invite an outsider who has a known facility with a Sarcastic Ball. A Chooser not familiar with any of the kids attending the dance is the sort of situation that reveals just how in-tune the Sarcastic Ball is with our struggling-to-be-heard sixth sense.

If you try all of the above suggestions and still cannot, under any circumstances, come up with a decent Chooser and/or Teller and/or Taker who have the required skill sets, I quite understand. After all, this is middle school, right? At this sorry point, you can try accessing my website for some Odd Ball tools, designed with the aid of man-made spirits, to help your dance along. If, however, you are unable to fight past the Odd Ball guards, then you’ll have to send me at least $12.95* (price of book), maybe more—bwaahaaahaaa-haa-ha cough, cough, sputter, hork, excuse me—for the private access code to get into my site.

*Sarcastic Ball not included. Allow two weeks for delivery.

Number Considerations

A question which I’ve consulted the Sarcastic Ball about many times is, “Are equal numbers of boys and girls required in order to hold an Odd Ball?”

All the answers I’ve received from the Sarcastic Ball—one-hundred and ninety-six so far—have been unequivocally indefinite. I take this to mean that the Sarcastic Ball has absolutely no idea what I am asking. That is to say, if girls can dance with girls, and they often do, seeing as they are less likely to be injured by wildly incompetent dancing, then why shouldn’t boys dance with—hold it, before I suggest this, you should be aware that in the Sarcastic Ball’s many years of experience, it has learned that different cultures have different, interesting approaches to dancing. For instance, in some cultures, only the men dance. Women are the designated spectators. In other cultures, dancing does not involve any partnering at all; when something in the beat strikes them, people simply jump up and dance like crazy, regardless of who else is around.

The main idea is to try and give everyone who comes to the Odd Ball, a chance to find a friend to dance around the campfire with.

Therefore, my advice is, “Dance, Jobbus! Of course. You must. You must certainly dance. Dance and be happy!”

AJS