Thursday, February 5, 2015

"I LOVE being a TURTLE!"

One of the many passions that I had during my childhood (and further into my teenage years than I care to confess) was for the 4 bodacious reptiles known as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Perhaps my infatuation stemmed from a yet to be discovered love of Renaissance artists or maybe, just maybe it was simply that they were bad @ss mothers who loved pizza. I mean come on, what red blooded American doesn’t love pizza….pizza and sewers?
I have several pictures that document what I like to call my “Turtle years” in which I have a small stuffed Donatello as my constant companion. I also had numerous TMNT action figures that I kept next to my model horses (see, I was a somewhat normal kid). On more than one Halloween occasion I proudly wore my homemade Michelangelo costume despite the embarrassment of my two younger brothers. It got to the point that my mom had to wait until I was asleep so that she could peel the green sweats and orange facemask off to wash them.   
And best of all was when I convinced my high school Japanese teacher to let me and three other classmates go to Seattle to compete in a Japanese theatrical contest. The rules of the competition stated that we could not have the help of our teacher. We had to write the script for ourselves. I was the ringleader of the group (which would have made me Leonardo).
 What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Japan…??? Of course, the same thing that I thought of, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My brilliant idea was to take one of the scenes from the TMNT movie and translate it into Japanese. The four of us would be the Ninja Turtles, I of course being Michelangelo since he was the party dude (Hi, my name is Haley and I like to party). Our performance was supposed to be 10 minutes long. There were several problems with this, firstly, we were in first year Japanese. I don’t think we could have stood up in front of the audience and taken 10 minutes to say the few words we even knew in Japanese. Second, we had to have it memorized. Have you ever tried memorizing Japanese? I have, it’s really not as easy as it sounds. So painstakingly we created a script using a Japanese dictionary. We figured we could write the script three days before the performance. Memorize the script two days before the performance and the day of would be the first time we really performed. You see, we wanted it to be raw and in the moment. We soon realized that writing a 10 minute play in Japanese was not going to happen and so we did what any mature high school Japanese students would do. We used the sentences that we did know, still dressed as ninja turtles and added a dance.
I believe our script went something like this:

Michalangelo: Watashiwe na maie Mikey dis (my name is Mikey)
Donatello: Pork rind oshi dis (This pork rind tastes good)
Leonardo: Ohio go sai mas (Good morning)
Ralphael: DAAAAMMMNNN!!!! (Things are not going as I had planned on this lovely evening)

(Que music: “Tequila” begins to play. Ninja Turtles get up and begin to dance in the amazing choreography that their fearless leader, Mikey, has instructed them to dance. And when the song says “tequila” all the Ninja Turtles yell “Ninjitsu”)
We did not win. It’s a shame really, it would have looked good on our college applications.

Besides a little wounded pride, I don’t believe that there are any regrets due to my precious “Turtle years.” There could have been. A tattoo has been the regret of many a young (and old) person. Fortunately my church has advised against getting tattoos, even more fortunate is that I chose to follow this wise council. If I had not, there is a 99.9% chance that on the morn of my 18th birthday I would have snuck out of my house where my parents slept soundly in their beds, their mouths smiling at the thoughts of the perfect, wonderful daughter they had successfully raised into adulthood and I would have driven to the classiest backdoor tattooing establishment I could find where I would have paid the “professional” tattoo artist most of my college tuition to tattoo a full colored face of Michelangelo on my left lower cheeky. And of course to even things out I would have had a portrait of Worf adorning my right side because I like to keep things symmetrical. No regrets…
My sister also caught the TMNT bug. Unfortunately, the doctors did not catch the virus soon enough and she will forever suffer the effects. As far as I know she does not have any tattoos either but that has neither been confirmed nor denied by the afore mentioned sister. Her husband may be able to shed some light but I have yet found the most opportune moment to discuss such matters.
I did eventually grow out of my TMNT phase, mostly, that isn’t to say that when I hear Vanilla Ice singing “Go Ninja, go ninja, go ninja, Go!” I start to tremble and I feel my body start to dance in ways that only a true Ninja Turtle fan could dance. And if by chance I saw a Foot soldier pass me on the street in his covered face, black jumpsuit and red headband I wouldn’t mutter “I know who you are.”  
But as of now, both my cheeky’s are pink and unpainted (though I must confess they aren’t quite what they use to be when I was 18).
The good news is that my 2 year old frequently requests the privilege of watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Our conversation usually goes something like this:

Mommy: Would you like to watch a show?
Boots: I want to watch Inja Turtles! (after which she promptly yells “hi yaaa” and kicks me in the shin)
Touché my little friend…

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