Sunday. Show day! I had to sing! In front of people! On a stage with lights and decorations and microphones catching every deep breath, every wrong word. I decided the only way I could get through the day was with a large breakfast at the Melrose.
The diner was full of families just coming from Purim celebrations at the JCC pre-school down the street. Kids and grown-ups in costume tucking into plates of eggs and turkey sandwiches. I ate my pancakes and read Away Laughing on a Fast Camel. I’m not terribly self-conscious about eating and reading by myself in public, but I think I’d be suspicious of a big Asian lady reading a young adult novel, laughing, dropping bits of egg on my boobs. Self-conscious much?
After breakfast, I didn’t know what to do. Go home and rest a bit, then get ready for the show? Look for another black cardigan to add to my growing collection? Get my nails done? I realized that none of the cardigans I owned were right for my show, so I bought another cardigan. And maybe some costume jewelry at Anthropologie. Also some new mascara and some facial cleanser that promised to both make my pores look smaller while making my overall complexion more glowy. There is a reason why shopping is sometimes referred to as “retail therapy”.
I came home, showered, moisturized, dried my hair, put in my contacts, wondered why my left eye felt like it was on FIRE, put on makeup, put on clothes, threw lyrics and cameras and wallet and chewing gum in a purse. I wanted to stop to get a cupcake for Wendy, a classmate who’d just celebrated a birthday but there was no time. I had to get in a cab and get going.
A note about the singing. I literally have no idea if I have any singing talent. The only thing I know for sure is that I like to sing, I’ve always liked singing, and I suspect I always will. I sometimes think that’s more important than having talent, at least for me it is. I sang when I was a kid in school, and then I went to college and stopped doing a lot of things. Like singing in choirs, theater, writing papers by hand, math, and buying my bedsheets at Woolworth’s. I started singing last summer because I remembered how singing made me happy when I was a kid and why couldn’t I do it again to make me happy as an adult?
Of course, none of these things were on my mind. Not in the cab, where the driver railed against stupid drivers and extolled the virtues of neutral. And not at Davenport’s, where I gathered with my fellow first-timers (and Jacinda, my one guest — Davenport’s is tiny!) and fussed over my outfit. Mainly, I was thinking about when to sing “could” and when to sing “can” and hoping I didn’t vomit and/or pass out when it was our time to go. Because we didn’t know. Though Gwen and Jonnie had made up programs listing singers and song titles, the order in which we were listed was not the order in which we were performing. We were supposed to listen for our music, and then make our way to the stage to perform.
Neither Jacinda nor I kept track of the actual order in which people sang, but I’m pretty sure Cathy and Amy were first with “Mama Said”. Robin and Wendy were in there too with “It’s My Party”. And then I heard it. The sound I had come to dread/fear/love, the introduction to Smokey Robinson’s composition “My Guy”. Linda and I stood up, made our way to the stage with our lyrics, set up our microphones (with much help from the kind folks in the first row), took a deep breath, and began to sing.
“Nothing you could say can tear me away from my guy…” Words came out, air came in, I think we even remembered to shimmy a little. First verse together, second verse solo for Linda, third verse solo for me, third verse repeat together, repeat chorus together three times. The repeated choruses included spoken responses, first from me (“What’cha say?”) and then from Linda (“Tell me more!” in a smokey voice that brought an appreciative chuckle from the audience) and then it was over. We were back in our seats before you could sing “There’s not a man today who can take me away from my guy”. Nice words of congratulations from Jacinda, Wendy, and Robin, and I relaxed, finally.
Intermission between the first and second show (which I was staying for, along with Linda and a bunch of other students) was busy. Congratulating other performers. Introducing Jacinda to Gwen, who was wearing an incredibly groovy caftan. Peeing. Drinking more water and talking. Before long, though, people were getting seats for the 5:30 show, so I said goodbye to Jacinda, and Linda and I went back in for some more music. It was nice to be able to have fun and clap and sing along without the pressure of performing. We all cut loose just a little. There was, after all, a 2 drink minimum. Also the second show had some truly epic duets that I just was crazy for. Rob and Hellene just went crazy on “The Wah Watusi”, dancing like mad. Jimmy and Jeffrey tore it up on “You Baby” by The Turtles. Judy and Larry making a masterpiece of “Holly Holy”. It was too much fun. Hopefully some video clips will appear on YouTube shortly. In the meantime, you can watch this clip of me, dressed as Kim Jong-Il, singing backup in the Halloween show last year.