Sunday, March 17, 2019

Another opening, another show

I have acted in plays since I was 15, when I was too shy to interact with most people, or at least girls. Scripted words were a godsend. Sometimes it even said, right in the script, I had to kiss them. So I kissed them. I mean, it said so right there. "They kiss," was one memorable stage direction. My first kiss, in fact, was not romantic but in service to a musical. I paused. I looked out at the director for confirmation. "Kiss her," he said. So I did. 

I'm rehearsing a play now. Although I do not live in my hometown, the play's there and our rehearsals too. This has caused past and present to sort of shimmer for me, blend together, fade in and out of each other.

We rehearse in a hall where, 41 years ago, I slow-danced in the dark with my junior year sweetheart at the Girls League Formal. It was a girl-ask-guy dance they apparently don't even have any more. 

I practice our scenes now mere feet away from where Michelle and I swayed all those years ago in the humid, teen-scented dark...can it be?...almost 15,000 days ago. I remember the spot, because I kissed her while we danced, something I had never done before in public, a bold move, even in the dark. 

Sometimes at rehearsal my eye lingers there under the bright fluorescent lights. In daylight, there is no magic to the place. The ancient window curtains have collected the dust of decades and the wooden stage on the far end has some spongy boards. But, like any place out of memory, it retains a certain romance.

I think she broke up with me later that night. I can't remember. If not, it was pretty soon after. I couldn't tell you why. She probably still could. 

Near a '60's looking sculpture in the foyer I eye a wall where I remember tossing my cream-colored tuxedo jacket and salmon bow tie onto a pile of the same. A hundred teens dancing in one room can generate a lot of heat. I did the rest of my dancing in my ruffle-fronted shirt, sleeves rolled up. Was there a disco ball or does memory play tricks? 

Today in the spot of the tux pile is a clothes rack hung with all our show costumes. My tux is black this time, the tie, grey.

Every time I pull into the parking lot outside I remember the same lot, 40 years ago. I disembarked from a public school bus one final time, the bleary morning after Grad Night. Our parents drove us to the party alone, but a bus brought all us graduates home together. 

Grad Night sucked. It was not at Disneyland, as is customary now, but in a ballroom at the Disneyland Hotel across the street. I guess they figured if it had the name Disneyland in it, we would be placated. It was lame. 

I had to wear a suit and tie. There was a hypnotist at about 2 a.m. who made my classmates cluck like chickens or become stiff as a board. There was dancing. I don't remember getting on the bus, but I remember getting off in this very parking lot, the sun too bright after an all-nighter. Parents waiting in their cars to take us home, like kindergartners. 

I pull up to rehearsal and the bus shimmers in the morning sun 40 years ago. 

This is roughly show #30 or so for me, lifetime. There have been many other tuxes, and suits, prayer shawls, jockey silks, tights. I am not as shy as that teen, but I still appreciate someone providing me the words. So often the right ones are nowhere to be found. 

No comments:

Post a Comment