Saturday, February 16, 2008

From John Chabbott

Ken, John Chabbott, Damien Evans, and Andy Kaplan, 1985

It’s OK to say OLÉ!!

Having had the benefit of reading a number of blogs, my memories of Ken certainly came flooding back – school, sports, extra-curricular activities (the Spot, the Beach), etc. In looking back at my time with Ken, I have so many great memories of my time with Ken. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (“the Knights who say Ni”), Nick’s Pizza at Rehoboth (Ken did a great thick Italian accented impersonation of Nick), touch football, which ultimately turned into tackle with the lucky ones ending up on Ken’s team. No one wanted to get in front of Ken’s flying elbows. Late night chats at The Spot with all our friends about anything and everything. However, I can think of one particular event that, in my opinion, sums up Ken. It involves one of those ridiculous high school incidents (someone should write a book there were so many!) and how Ken liked to use his intelligence and sense of humor to continuously push our overzealous high school administrators to the brink (unlike the administrators, most of the teachers I think genuinely enjoyed Ken’s wittiness and sense of humor). As others have already mentioned, there was a group of us, like a lot of teenage boys, who loved Monty Python. Part of the humor is not only the wittiness, but its sheer stupidity -- it doesn’t always make sense, but that’s part of the humor. I’m sure others with better memories can fill in the blanks, but at some point Ken became fascinated with the word “olé.” I’m not sure why, how or who started it, but Ken took the word and made it his rallying cry our Senior Year. Given Ken’s masterful use of the word – as a noun, a verb, an adjective, even an exclamation point it got to be a very popular word among us all, but annoying to some of the Principals. Thinking back, it really didn’t make sense this obsession with a word, but in the vein of Monty Python, and at the time and at our age, we all thought it was hilarious, and the more it annoyed them, the more we wanted to use it. For some reason, the administrators didn’t get the joke and tried to basically squash the “uprising.” I think someone actually told the local papers and who actually ran a story in the local paper entitled “It’s OKAY to say OLÉ” which pointed out the stupidity of the whole thing. Imagine the absurdity of school trying to ban a word? I can still picture Ken doing one of his goofy dances with his Scooby Doo laugh saying “It’s OK to say OLÉ, It’s OKAY to say OLÉ!" My son, like a lot of pre-teen boys, has “discovered” Monty Python. And whenever we sit down to watch the Holy Grail – I always think of Ken. His smile, intelligence, sense of humor and that infectious laugh, not to mention some of his great impersonations, are still fresh in my mind. Although he’s no longer with us on this earth, he still makes me smile all the time. And that’s the way I remember Ken, as a fun-loving, intelligent, and wickedly funny friend.


Kristin said...

I think I can fill in the blanks a bit regarding the ole' scandal; it was actually a song on the flip side of the "Tequila" song. I think it was played on the jukebox on accident. I had lunch with Ken that year, and even though we sat with our own friends, I remember he started dancing around to the song, and when the music stopped every few bars, everyone chimed in with the vocals which only consisted of one word: "ole'." I think our principals thought it would be a once and done deal, but then people just kept playing it. Some kids actually started wearing Ole' buttons and homemade t-shirts when they told us we couldn't "say" it anymore. I had a button ripped off my shirt by none other than Dr. Rita Ryan who made a snide comment about my brother as she took it from me. I don't know if Ken was the one who called the newspaper, but I do remember that he was featured in the article.

Nelle said...

As class president, I remember getting called into the principal's office. I was asked "to get that Ole' situation under control." As if I - or anyone else- could control those crazy boys once they got started.

sally said...

I remember a group of us meeting at Kristin Stayton's house to make "Ole" sweatshirts; we had a lot of fun. Then the school admin. told us not to wear them & they were "disappointed" in our creative expression.

Alex said...

As if Rita Ryan was any kind of authority on creative expression...Jeezus.

Remember, these were the same people who would not let us wear shorts in a non-air conditioned building (except when the temperature got close to three digits).

Jeff said...

Yeah, once the "ole'" thing started it just took on a life of its own. I sat at the table next to Ken's at lunch and every day there was more. They got louder ( and then scattered when Rita made her way back to their table). Then there was a little back and forth on the song between his table and Marc Durant's table. Then everybody got in on it. It wasn't Ken who called the State News; it was Carol Collier, I think. The administration definitely went the wrong way in their initial reaction. They went detention happy, and it backfired. Then finally Mr. Roberts had the sense to talk about it over the intercom and get it out of everyone's systems.