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The High School Assembly: One Tough Crowd

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I spoke in front of a room full of teenagers ... and lived to tell the tale!

woman speaking at assembly

Karyn Bryant: So there we were at the assembly: a few moms about to present the first-ever "Tasty Tuesday" fruit and veggie extravaganza (OK, it was only one fruit), staring out at a room full of high-schoolers. We hadn't determined who was going to give the presentation, but I knew that in a pinch I could wing it, thanks to my years as a broadcaster. Inside my head though, I had to laugh, because my pulse quickened at the thought of talking to a bunch of teenagers about a pomelo.

We huddled up together in the back of the room, but the other moms seemed less than thrilled at the idea of taking the microphone. There were (maybe valid) excuses, deferrals, and outright refusals. I didn't pipe in till everyone else said "Not me!" -- and even then, I was a bit wary myself. I think it's because the group of us were having a collective flashback to our own teen years -- you know, the ones where you didn't pay attention to old ladies who came to your school as guests to lecture you about stuff?

Anyway, I took the mic and improvised. It actually turned out to be kind of fun. I cracked lame jokes on purpose, in order to get out in front of the barbs I imagined were being whispered in the back rows. I used self-deprecating humor and made myself the bad guy when I told a room full of Lakers fans that I was from Boston. The boos came flying at me, but that meant they were paying attention! Yay me! And that also meant that the next time they saw the giant green grapefruit-on-steroids-looking fruit called a pomelo, they'd know it's sweeter than citrus, grows in hot climates, and is quite versatile and yummy.

When it was all over, we moms smiled in triumph. It turns out that talking to teenagers wasn't really that hard. Sure, some of them probably thought I was a total dork, but so what? I know I'm cool! (OK, so now I'm thinking about the "cool" dad on "Modern Family" and cracking up about his utter lack of self-awareness. Great show, BTW.) By embracing the fact that they wouldn't think I was cool, I ended up being someone they didn't mind listening to for a couple of minutes. I didn't try to be like them -- I just tried to remember what it was like when we were them. And then I started worrying about college applications, my term paper, the prom ...

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hill news dayjobs December 1, 2010, 9:02 AM

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