Not To Be Dramatic, But…

One good thing about losing your full-time job is that you suddenly have time to do those things you’ve always wanted to do.  The sad thing about losing your full-time job is that you suddenly have no money to do those things you’ve always wanted to do.  There’s a painful irony for you.

Fortunately, what I wanted to do didn’t require money.  For me, losing my position last week meant I could finally get involved at church, and yesterday I had the opportunity to audition for the drama team.  For those of you who spent all of your time on the football field in high school, I’ll try to clarify.  To audition means to try out.  I had to try out for the drama team.  Fortunately I didn’t have to wear shoulder pads or tight pants.  (Did it never bother you guys that you were wearing the same thing that girls in the 80’s found fashionable for themselves?)

The stage has always appealed to me – I feel more at home in front of a thousand people making them cry or laugh than I do in a room with my own family at Thanksgiving.  Not really sure why that is – it’s just the way I’m wired.  Perhaps that’s because none of my theatre friends knew what kind of dweeb I truly was.  After all, they were all dweebs too.  They also didn’t have the inside scoop on everything I’d done in my life since I was born – nor did they feel it imperative to dish out that information at social gatherings in order to embarrass me.  (Seriously, Dad – must we talk about the “diaper and the wall” incident at EVERY birthday?)

Every time I attended church and saw the drama team perform I was instantly taken back to my days of youth… my days of theatre.  They say high school has “the best days of your life” – and you don’t believe it when they tell you until you look back at the age of forty.  I hated going to class, I got a “D” in Geometry because Math and I did not get along.  I got a “C” in English.  (How do you get a “C” in English… I speak the language for cryin’ out loud!)  Probably because I kept skipping – after all, I never learned from History because I kept skipping that class too (had to take summer school for that one). 

But I always got an “A” in Drama class and all of my music classes.  Well, except for Music Theory – how can you possibly understand any of that stuff?  How can you be downgraded (literally) for not understanding something that may not even truly exist?  After all, it’s Music THEORY – so it can’t even be proven to be real, right?  Whatever.

Anyway, I loved acting, I loved singing, I loved spending time up until midnight at the high school’s theatre going over lines, figuring out whether I should enter stage-right or stage-left; I loved hanging with other thespians who seemed to be the only ones who truly understood me, I even loved blocking.  Again, for those of you who were on the football team, blocking in this case has nothing to do with an opponent and everything to do with where you move on stage during a scene. 

Sorry to pick on the football players – but they seemed to be the enemies way back then.  They always thought they were better than us.  We knew we were better than them.  They called us losers, we called them jock straps.  They tossed food in our general direction, we snuck into their garages and poured baked beans and marshmallow fluff on their windshields and replaced their gas cap with a locking gas cap while writing imaginary love notes to them from the hot teachers so they’d get their hopes dashed when reality finally kicked in, but only after placing lice eggs in their helmets.  I’d say we were about even.  And age is a great equalizer… they’ve all since traded in their six pack abs for a beer belly, and I’ve traded my… uh… okay, I never really had anything – but now I’ve got the gut too. 

Anyway, I still don’t learn from history, because what I’ve apparently forgotten about acting is the toll it takes on your body.  Yesterday during the audition I was drenched with sweat.  My heart was pounding like it was going to explode out of my body.  I was dramatically reminded of my poor shape… and my mortality.  It’s pretty sad when the guy watching on the side from a wheelchair, inhaling oxygen through a hose has to ask if he needs to dial 911 for you.

But when it was over I felt good about it, and hoped for the best.  When I finally heard that I’d made the team (please feel free to toss bouquets of roses at your computer screen now and give me the standing ovation I most richly deserve), I was very excited.

Until this morning.

I woke up at 2am to find that I’d wrenched my back during the audition and I found rug burns on my right elbow and left knee.  Plus my knee is bruised so I have a bit of a limp today.  Suddenly memories are flashing back at me… memories I’ve since forgotten from my days in school and community theatre.  Memories I’ve obviously repressed. 

I now recall playing the brother of Christopher Columbus in a musical called “Three Ships”… and during rehearsal I took one too many steps forward and missed the edge of the stage.  Fortunately there was football player lying on the ground waiting for his girlfriend.  He broke my fall, but it was a nice twist on that ankle of mine.  Not from the fall – but from the football player. 

I now recall playing Dauntless in “Once Upon a Mattress” (the musical version of the “Princess and the Pea”)  and how the entire cast during my big song “I’m in Love With a Girl Named Fred” (gee, no wonder I was picked on by the jocks) was to toss me in the air and catch me for the big finish – and missed.  I landed on my knee and struck a pose like it was intentional as the audience cheered.  Turned out to be my swan dive – my knee swelled up to the size of a cantaloupe.  Good thing it was closing night.

I now recall being in the musical “Oklahoma” where a black-powder gun accidentally went off and set fire to a bed on the stage and while the show continued we were all trying to put it out… with our bare hands.  From then on, whenever I felt heat to my hand I was reminded of “The Burning Bed” scene.  I still can’t watch “Oklahoma” now without wincing.

So here I am, remembering all of these things and yet I’m excited to get involved again and put myself back into mortal danger.  We used to make fun of the football team for not having any brains.  Well, at least they knew when it was time to get out and move on to something else.  Me?  I’m still trying to get back in.

Lovely.  I just realized that I’m the Brett Favre of community theatre.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *