Tag Archives: Worcester Academy

Six Wedding Words

There cannot be enough Armenian dancing.

Dave’s Bathroom

My friend Dave grew up on the posh side of town. I love his parents’ house. A big, roomy colonial on a quiet, winding, tree-lined street. We were warmly welcomed there as geeky, awkward teenagers. We watched movies in the den, played pinball in the basement, ate ice-cream from their freezer, and I even once kissed a boy in their living room.

But I was terrified of the powder room.

New Year’s Eve. December 31, 1991, and a few of us were gathered at Dave’s house. I don’t think his parents were home–but that’s not a big deal. We were good kids, curfew obeyers, nerd girls and nice guys the lot of us.

I innocently went into the first floor half-bath to pee. And you know how, when you’re a teenager, everything is a huge deal? Peeing at a boy’s house, even just a boy who is a friend, is a huge deal. Because, you know, peeing. Near strangers. Some of whom are male.

I locked the door–one of those funny antique pin-style locks. I peed. I washed my hands. I went to unlock the door.

Shit.
Shit shit shit.
(Except I’m pretty sure I was fourteen, and didn’t say shit out loud yet.)

So, I panicked a little, and waited a few minutes, and tried again.

And then I called for help. Simultaneously wishing I could just flush myself down the toilet in embarrassment.

Dave came to the other side of the door and tried, increasingly less patiently and more mockingly, to explain to me how to jiggle the handle and press the pin and wiggle my nose and whisper the secret word to release the lock… but I couldn’t get it.

Until finally, he wasn’t outside the door anymore.

He was outside the window, hoisting himself up and inside. He did manage to finagle the lock once he was in there with me. And thank god we were a drama-free lot because hello? Locked in a bathroom with a boy. In high school.

I spent a lot more time at Dave’s house over the years, and I never once again locked the bathroom door.

Mama’s Losin’ It1.) Write about a time you had to crawl through a window. (inspired by Barb from Half Past Kissin’ Time)

Okay, so my friend crawled through a window, but it was to save me.

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Oh Diogenes!

Final Dress.

The Boys from Syracuse, Worcester Academy, spring of 1994.

I am playing the role of the Courtesan, which is what happens when you’re a curvy alto. You play the nag, the mother, or the whore.

We, myself and my four courtesan underlings, are fully costumed, in orange togas, slit up the front from mid-calf to just under the bustline, under which we wear yellow leggings. To set me apart as Chief Among Whores, I have a chunky, gold-link belt slung on my hips. The belt is pinned at the back, since as a singing, dancing lady of ill-repute, I do a big kick line number in the eleventh hour, and the costumers don’t want the belt bouncing and knocking off the blue jewel I have pasted above my navel.

Yes. A blue navel-jewel.

So, the rehearsal is running well–which, for anyone not in the theatre, is a bad sign, and my big number is up. The whore’s jazzy plea for an honest john. I’m ready, the girls are ready…

The choreography goes well, the vocals go well, we’re in time with the pit… we link arms for the kick line. Right knee, right toe flexed, left knee, left toe flexed… right knee, right toe flexed…

And like a spinning galaxy in a model of the universe, I watch the belt twist and arc up–out over the proscenium extension…

Left knee, left toe flexed…

It flashes in the follow-spot as it hits the apex and begins to fall…

Right knee, right toe-flexed…

Into the lap of the bassist, who’s also my music theory teacher.

Jazz hands uuuuuuupp!! And hold!

As the lights fade and we scurry offstage, we’re met with snorts, chortles and guffaws… and that’s just from the pit. The cast and crew are in silent hysterics. But I hold my head high, giggling and blushing scarlet.

I never missed a note.

And a wardrobe malfunction is a good sign. Screwing up in final dress means you’re more likely to be on your game opening night.

And opening night was great. I vamped it up, hit my smoke-bomb cues, smooched the leading man, and made it to the eleventh hour number.

We took our places in the dark, feet on our glow-tape marks, and as the scene lights come up for the intro to the song I see, where none had been before, a hard hat on the bassist.

I never missed a note.

But I never lived it down either.

To this day, when I see that particular teacher at alumni events, I am reminded of my belt flying into his lap when I was 17.

Take us back to an embarrassing moment in your life.

Did someone embarrass you, your parents perhaps? Or did you bring it upon yourself?

Are you still embarrassed or can you laugh at it now?

Kingdom, Phylum, Fish Out of Water, and First Lines

There is a photograph, somewhere in an album from the early nineties, of a teenaged girl in a medieval costume. The colors are punchy in the foreground, lit hot from the front, the background cast into shadow–the better to retain the illusion.

Her mouth is open to speak, she is facing the fourth wall. She has stepped out of formation for comic delivery, and you can see it sparkle in her eyes.

Her first line.

A nearly full house, three hundred people in the audience on opening night. A classic proscenium theatre, grown shabby with use and lack of financial resources, transformed into The Great White Way by the butterflies in my stomach. Giddy, wonderful butterflies.

Only just turned fifteen, I have discovered where I belong in the kingdom and phylum of high school. I am a lady-in-waiting to a nasty, exaggerated caricature of a Queen, one of three such attendants.

My genus and species? Theatre kid, musical theatre kid.

In my blue, empire-waisted gown, my hair pulled back under a matching headdress, feet in black Chinese slippers under the dress, I am beautiful in a way I’ve never felt before. Even the pancake make-up and outrageous blue eyeshadow seem elegant and right on stage.

I know my delivery cold. The alto harmonies in every company number have become part of my cellular structure. The prospect of dancing the Spanish Panic makes me want to vomit behind the gathered pleats of the traveler as I’m waiting off-stage.

The damp and bedraggled Princess has explained to the Queen that she comes from the swamp. My line sets her up for the intro to her first song. We three ladies-in-waiting stand stage left, silent observers to the scene unfolding, until the script compels me out of line, into the lights, to speak.

“You must feel like a fish out of water!”

My voice is something new and different. There is more air behind it, more visceral force. It is a voice to be heard, even though the line is an awkward one, and the humor forced, in the way of campy sixties musicals. Nine words, rehearsed for weeks, now travel out into the audience like the blast from an air horn.

Something important is coming. Pay attention!

And somewhere in the audience there is the click and whir of a point-and-shoot camera.

“Actually, I do,” responds the swampy Princess. The first instrumental strains of her solo float up from the pit. I fall back into line with my fellow ladies. My few heartbeats in the spotlight are over.

The Princess’ solo ends and we all bustle off stage under the cover of darkness, path illuminated by a breadcrumb trail of glow-tape.

In high school you know your class, and the order is often established for you, so when you find your family, it settles a piece of you.

The Red Dress Club is throwing down a fresh challenge. Memoir, every Tuesday a new prompt. I freely admit I’m more comfortable with personal essay and fiction, but I’m certainly going to give it a go. This week, you’re asked to imagine that after your death, your child will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see? Honestly, there are so many, probably more meaningful than this, but this is the one that came to mind, freely associated.