I was a ham. I know you find that hard to believe. I stood on my parents’ bed, looked in their dresser mirror, and sang to my favorite 45’s: Delta Dawn and Half Breed. It goes without saying that one of my favorite shows was The Sonny and Cher Show. I watched it dressed in all my mom’s slips. “I got you babe. I got you to hold my hand…I got you to understand…” It was just too good to last.
The Donny and Marie Show (you must look this up on youtube; I haven’t figured out links yet) also held my complete loyalty. How come all the Osmond brothers didn’t get their names in the title? “I’m a little bit country. I’m a little bit rock -n-roll…Don’t care if it’s good or bad, but I know I love it so…” I wrote a letter to Donny once on purple stationery(he did wear a purple-sequined jumpsuit, didn’t he?), and sealed it with a juicy kiss on the back with my mom’s lipstick. But the loser never wrote back.
Oh, speaking of heartthrobs, Leslie Hutchinson had a pink Shaun Cassidy jacket she wore to grade school. I loved Shaun, and I loved that jacket. I hated her when she wore it. Petty, I know.
I memorized Delta Dawn and would sing it whenever I got the chance. Mom remembers that I would sing it at the Jack and Jill grocery store to anyone who would listen. I wonder if that was the same period of time as when I walked up to a lady and told her she was fat? Don’t worry, I’ve had ample payback for that question with my own kids.
The peak of my singing career ended in disgrace. Mom and I attended the Nazarene church for a while, and I was going to sing “Onward Christian Soldiers” at some kind of dinner. I wonder if Jeff D. remembers this? Mom accompanied my solo on the piano. I got up there and belted it out, until my voice cracked on a high note. I can’t remember if I finished the song. All I remember is sobbing from humiliation with my head down on a table the rest of the night, and old ladies patting me.
Later, Mrs. Christensen, the junior high music teacher, kicked me out choir. Even though I can’t remember the exact reason I was kicked out, I’m sure it wasn’t because of my singing voice, but what I was saying when I wasn’t singing.
My singing career was shot, so acting became my new performance medium. I was a flower in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Mom made me a cave woman outfit out of fake leopard skin in the musical Wheels: “Where there’s a wheel, there’s a way, there’s always a way-ay! How would we fare without the wheel? Not very well, not very well, not very well I say-ay!”
I was something NVI(not very important) in The Wizard of Oz. Janelle Warren received my part as Dorothy. I was jealous, but she was older than me, after all. I remember how theatrical “alas” sounded when Dorothy sighed, “Alas, Toto.” I didn’t know what “alas” meant, but I sighed, too.
When I was a senior, I finally got what I wanted. A part big enough for me. The prosecuting attorney in It Happened on the Night of January 19th. It seemed like I had to memorize the whole play. Which was OK, since I had been preparing for this my WHOLE life. The big night came, and we picked the jury “randomly” from the audience. Most of the folks were random, but the principal got picked for every performance. The first night I started my opening argument, my knees started shaking. The audience couldn’t see my knees, because I was standing behind a table. But the jury looked alarmed. Later, the principal told me he thought he was going to have to somehow prop me up so I could finish my speech. Fortunately, I was able to avoid catastrophe by steadying myself against the table.
Despite my knees, I won best actress for the year. I think it was for the most lines memorized, or the ability to deliver the aforementioned lines while trying not to tip over, however, and not for my innate acting ability. Teresa, who I am questioning here, had developed a pimple before showtime. She had heard somewhere that steam helped reduce a zit’s life. So she put her nose over a pot of boiling water, and burnt her nose. Our make-up artists had their work cut out for them.
My children inherited my haminess(my blog, my made-up words). When Ashley and Katherine were little, any company we had was held hostage to their performances. Once, during an especially exuberant musical, my mother-in-law asked me, “Were you like this?”
The epitome of this phase came when we had the Bakers over for a meal, and not only were they to endure the performance, but Greg had a part. The picture says it all.
Caitlin, Ashley, Greg, and Katherine
In answer to my mother-in-law’s question, I responded with a sideways glance, “Hmmmm. I don’t recall. Wasn’t Marcus like this?”