Whenever I hear the phrase “blue moon,” I’m likely to think of Coach Jim Perkins, the Physical Education teacher of Alta Vista Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona.
When I arrived to Alta Vista in the fifth grade, I distinguished myself to Coach Perkins as the defiant kid who didn’t want to play football. Coach accommodated me by telling me I could “stand on The Hump” until the football unit was over.
The Hump was (and I imagine still is) a mound that runs the length of the school yard over a buried irrigation pipe. During recess, it was where kids were sent when they got in trouble.
Another new kid arrived, named David Ballantyne. I don’t remember when. David had lived in England, or was British, or something. Anyway, he spoke with some Britishisms that I thought were interesting. David wasn’t particularly athletic.
One day during PE class, David and I were standing in the middle of the field not acting athletic together at the same time. Coach Perkins came over and was probably a little annoyed that we were just standing there and not playing whatever sport was going on at the time.
So there we were: The PE Coach, the defiant anti-football kid, and the non-athletic kid with the prissy manner of speaking. David was happily telling about his exotic British culture, and used the phrase, “once in a blue moon.” Then he said it again later in the same conversation.
The third time David said, “once in a blue moon,” Coach Perkins reached the end of his indulgence for the two of us.
“This is America,” he said, showing his irritation. “We don’t have blue moons here.”
Then he probably made us chase around a ball of some kind with the other kids.
I didn’t know then what a blue moon was. I do now.
And yes, Coach, we do have blue moons in America. I was just outside looking at one. You apologize to David, or you can go stand on The Hump.
Photo Credit: Bill Dickinson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)