I was about ten years old when my older brother decided to enter me into a local talent contest. He sat with me and strummed his guitar and taught me the words to Because of You. It is not germane to my point if you don’t know the song.
I practiced every day after school. My mother bought me a pretty blue floral dress, with a blue ribbon around the waist and curled my hair.
I was one of those little girls the choir director wanted to hug. One of the only girls since second grade that was a second alto. Now I sound like Groucho Marks.
I digress. Sitting at the dining room table or standing in the living room, it sounded so good. I mean I hit all the notes and the family and neighbors dutifully clapped and encouraged me. A young Judy Garland.
It was a stuffy auditorium in an empty movie theatre. He registered me and I waited with my little tag and as the minutes ticked, my throat began to close. My stomach hitched, my brain closed down and by the time my number was called I was a basket case.
I finished the song in the most frightening and pitiful voice imaginable.
So he entered me in other contests. This brother was convinced I had hidden talents. I sure did. They were so hidden, they never saw the light of day.
Then came high school. I mean who the hell really liked high school? Who wants to spend the only years of their life when social status is everything, as a nerd, a dweeb, a misfit in oversized sweaters and flat feet? Those years when nothing fits, the nose is too big, the legs are too long and the voice changes every other month; this being more painful for boys.
I entered more contests and sometimes I didn’t freeze up or break out in hives. Unfortunately, on the day of my most important audition, I tanked, my throat closed and I once again sounded like a wounded frog. The All City Chorus which performs in Carnegie Hall in New York, is the most prestigious and sought after chorus in New York. It is made up of high school students from the five boroughs. All you had to do is sing, Just a Song at Twilight, the notes to which give the choral director a full range of octaves and how you handle them.
I did not go home with the coveted prize and I never performed in Carnegie Hall or traveled or made an actual record album.
Fate can bring us to many crossroads in our lives. Like Dorothy, we need to pick well which direction we travel to get to Oz. And if we have a companion or two along the way, then better for us.
All my life I thought I was supposed to be on the stage, to dance and sing, to act or make jokes, to entertain and make you feel good.
This behind the scene stage of the written page is where the fates have taken me. Instead of clicking my Ruby Slippers, I click the keyboard and although I can’t see you, I know I am making you feel better.
So, go on and have a laugh on me. It is after all what I live for.
fOIS In The City