|Stage Fright Night|
|January 8th, 2004|
Several months ago when I was showing our Boston apartment, this prospective renter asked me if I ever considered doing stand-up. Not thinking I'd been cracking one-liners every five minutes as I showed her the porch and vintage moldings, I was a bit taken aback. She clarified: not stand-up exactly, but something performance related. I was still taken aback. Me? Me, who got violent stomach pains the night before every oral report I had to deliver from grade school to high school? Me, who was really interested in doing Children's Theatre but balked at the idea that the theatre would in fact be full of people? God, no! I told her, I can't even deliver presentations in front of people. A-ha! she said, You say that but your face lit up at the idea. I laughed and told her that it wasn't something I'd ever considered. If was ever fortunate enough to get work on a cooking show, I was thinking more along the lines of behind-the-scenes prep work. I think you'd be more of the host type, this woman said. And it's not like she's an agent giving me a line or anything -- she does business consulting. I shrugged it off as just another career path that I don't have the time or patience to even think about at this point.
Then Vanity sent me an email asking, "Well, why the hell not?" I don't know -- no one had ever suggested it to me and now the idea that a perfect stranger was suddenly seeing some sort of hidden talent in me was flattering in an addictive sense.
I guess writing is a sort of performance. I mean, of course it is. But it's an anonymous kind. I leave the real performing to the pros -- like Pamie and our friend Nate. In fact, if you were to take a dekko at family movies you'd note that I'm not the one center-staging it. My older sister was the one flitting around, rolling a bare shoulder, and mugging for the camera, whereas I'd be sitting on the floor playing with carpet or something. I mean, at two years old I used to growl at little old ladies in the supermarket when they tried to coochie-coo me!
But acting? I think it's amazing that actors can "get into" a character and deliver lines with any more feeling and conviction than it takes to read them off the page. I don't think I could do that. I can't be anything other than me. Is that enough? I wouldn't think so. I mean, I'm not saying I'm hopelessly boring or anything, I just can't think what would distinguish me from all the tens of thousands of people who are after the same sort of fame.
On my boards, my posters have been kind enough to brainstorm the idea of me doing something on television that combines snarkiness and cooking. I think they saw it as a sort of "Dinner and Movie" thing that would run during Enterprise. On commercial breaks, I'd make my typical rolling-the-eyes-so-hard-I-think-I-sprained-my-ear comments about the show while I cooked up some sort of Star Trek-themed meal.
However, anticipating an upcoming performance has totally convinced me that there's absolutely no business like show business in my future. Ever. At Writers with Drinks I'm going to be reading part of a recap and I will only be on stage for no more than fifteen minutes. It's only fifteen minutes out of my life, right? Right. Now sit in front of a clock and wait out how fifteen minutes. It's a crawlingly long time. I know, I know, time flies when you're having fun, but tell me this: what exactly does time do when you're petrified and there's a sea of faces staring? Thank you.
Plus, ever since we moved out here, my childhood ailment of stress pains in my sides or abdominal region have remanifested themselves. I should just be thrilled that I no longer get migraines but these pains are starting to make me think I could be doing something not good to surrounding organs. If my mind is so powerful that it can create pain somewhere as a result of stress why isn't my mind powerful enough to tell that pain to pack up its troubles? It's a one-way stress street. I do yoga, Pilates, and I go out for runs around a lovely park but now I think I'm going to have to try meditation. I've never done that before and when I started chakra chanting as Gaiam directed, Poppadum ran away. That can't be a good sign.
Now many of you may say, "Well, Keckler, you knew you hated getting up in front of people -- especially to read something you wrote -- so why the hell did you accept the invitation to do just that?" Because. Just because. I didn't want to turn it down. I knew I would regret it if I did, and I was flattered, very flattered to be ask to join the ranks of the glittering San Francisco literati who have likewise participated. Pride goes before a perforated ulcer.
So I'll do it -- I'll drop some of Bach's Flower Remedies on my tongue and pretend I'm someone else and I'll just do it. Plus, Mathra promised to take me out to Suppenküche for a lavish dinner complete with Chimay ale the next night, and I can't turn THAT down, can I?
Sorry, Mr. DeMille, I'm clearly not ready for my close-up even if you promised to airbrush my pores.