Status: Movin' and Groovin'
What's playing on iTunes? SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL by GRAND FUNK RAILROAD
I know, I suck, it's been a while, but I got into a little tiff with Mr. Murphy (of Murphy's infamous law). Fortunately I pursuaded him to go elsewhere so without further ado, allow me to finish my little dance with terror.
I get a phone call, about six, seven weeks out from Christmas. It's Jen. There's only one reason why she would be calling me on this date. The play. Dun dun dun dunnn. Immediately dread sinks in. I answer with the greatest of trepidation but I feign enthusiasm. "Hey, how's it goin'? How's life...?" Happy, chipper, go-lucky Jen is down and ready to resume play terror. With the guh-reatest of reluctance, shaking my head, gritting my teeth and clenching my fist I say, "Deal me in." Inside I was thinking, God, this one's for you. I did NOT want to do this play. Play=Terror.
I had no idea we'd be rehearsing three times a week. I work full time in CT, live in Queens, am presently finishing up novel number two, and dealing with the usual tornado of life, long story short, resentment festered. And I'm not an actor! The furthest thing from it, remember, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 9 and a half was my dread for the thing....I didn't want to do this play! I was busy. I might have even threw a mini-temper tantrum or two trying to make this work, who knows?
Something happens though when you rehearse something a ka-billion times--you actually learn your lines, even as many as I had. As the date neared, the dread did not dissipate, but for the first time I thought to myself, "We just might pull this off." Not only that, but Jen is a gifted director. Of course, my experience with any directors is nil so what do I know? Yet nevertheless, I found myself...releasing. Getting into character. Sure helped having a great co-star, too, Jean-san rocks.
And then the day was upon us. Our church meets in a highschool auditorium every sunday so there were the proper accoutrements of sound, two giant screens, (which the disciple Luke would be referring to with his cosmic remote control) stadium seating and media. I'm told it was the largest crowd we've ever had with the exception of Christmas and Easter services.
I'd purposefully invited NOBODY, but word got out anyway and there was my family, friends, even two of my friends from work, both of which were not even remotely Christian, in fact one is a proud aetheist, but they came anyway. God bless'em. And dammit.
As I sat in the dark, by myself, lines evaporating in my mind as I tried to conjure them, I detached, like any good writer, and gave myself a good once-over. "Well, here's a fine situation you've gotten yourself into," I thought. "Bet you didn't have this on your things to do this year." This modern rendition of scrooge was all me for the first ten minutes, I'd be rocking out to AC/DC, berating my intern and sound booth, fielding pre-recorded phone calls from listeners (I'm a jaded DJ) and then have to pretend they were real, and then have to deal with angelic disciples in the form of the great Jean-san...craziness I tell you--terror inducing.
And then HIGHWAY TO HELL blared on the speakers, the spotlight blinded me and it was...showtime. Death itself couldn't have tempted me to look at my audience. I just did it like we'd rehearsed a thousand times. Jen had told me that when it came down to it, we'd rock, that everything would come together. Of course Mr. Murphy wasn't done with me quiiiiite yet. Evidently, he's not a fan of sloppy backhands. See, in the middle of the second act, an evil thought whispered through my brain as I listened to Luke tell me how it was. The thought? "You're fly is down."
Evil I tell you. For just the briefest of moments I broke my concentration and verified in tsunami-grade relief that my fly was NOT down, but instead of saying the lines I was supposed to, I said the conclusion lines of the third act. Result? Play ends in the middle of the second act. Awkward silence. Knowledge of mistake. Ensuing terror. But we winged it. Jean points his cosmic remote control to the left, the lights go down as the prerecorded version of Mary from last year (Sahani, you rock too) showed, Jean leans in to me and whispers, "I think you said the wrong lines," and I'm like, "Yup. I sure did. Just roll with it, we're going to keep going as if it never happened." With a suppressed smile he was like, "Okay," and we did it.
When it was done, I went out the back and hid in a corner, repeatedly gonging my head against the wall for being so stupid. HOW COULD I HAVE FORGOTTEN MY LINES? I felt humiliated, dumb, embarrassed, and I stayed hidden backstage for a good twenty minutes which was a looooooong time considering the circumstances. Finally, I ventured out and took my seat, but instead of the rest of the cast being there, there were only empty seats, as if to say, "Yeah, you suck, sit by yourself in the front seat of SHAME." Which I did. Feeling about the size of a stag beetle. And then a tap on my shoulder. My head sank. Last thing I wanted was some person blowing a load of sunshine my way, telling me I did a good job when I knew I'd screwed up and that I sucked and that I was going to be scarred forever because it was being recorded and was going to be posted on a podcast for everybody to see for the rest of my life to laugh at me. Yay.
"Are you an actor?" these two girls ask me (I forget her name but I think I've known her for years but haven't admitted it yet cause I'm not sure) And I'm like, "Fu*k no!" (I didn't actually say that, it was church after all) and then the craziest, coolest thing that could have happened...happened. She looks at me and whispers. "My God, natural talent; you were amazing."
Amazing? The girl next to her nodded and was looking at me like I had seventeen extra eyeballs. "Really?" I ask. Dare I hope? There was nothing contrived about the looks in their eyes. When the sermon was over I was bombarded with accolades and baffled looks. I got a lot of, "I thought you were a novelist," remarks and then I got the biggest high five and hug from Jen (she was the one I'd been afraid to face the most) "You hit it out of the park! Oh my God that was great!" Even my best friend was looking at me in a way I've never seen before but then...irony struck.
This whole time I'd decided I never wanted to see it. Ever. But in light of the reaction, maybe it would be worth checking out. Maybe. Who knew? One problem, though. Nobody ever hit the record button on the camera.
Nobody else would ever see it, including me. Just like I wanted.