We're singing, not shouting
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 5:00 PM
I always wanted to grow up to be a famous actor or singer. Unfortunately, fate pegged me differently at a young age.
I always found myself with bit parts in school plays or musicals. I could never understand why. I knew I would have shined in a lead role but no one ever gave me a shot.
In the second grade, we had tryouts for our school musical. I felt thrilled and excited as I stood in line eagerly waiting my turn. Finally, I was called in front of all of the students and teachers and told to sing "Happy Birthday."
I began to belt it out proudly, but when I got to "birthday," one of the teachers held her hand up.
"OK! OK! That's enough!" she shouted with a frown. "Go wait over there." She pointed to where the other kids, who had already tried out, were sitting. I walked away dejected.
"But they never even gave me a chance!" I told my dad later that evening, as though he could do something. He just shook his head.
In the third grade, when our school play rolled around, I was given four words to say at the very end. My fake daughter was to approach me, hand me a tiny box which I was to open and take out a barrette. All I had to do was hold it high and exclaim, "What a beautiful barrette!" and put it in my hair. Then the curtains would close. The end.
Unfortunately, when I opened the box during the actual play, the barrette turned out to be the kind where you had to pinch the sides together to get it to open. I had never seen one of these before.
I held it in front of me, fussing with it painstakingly, willing it to open as 100 parents, teachers and students looked on.
"What a beau ... what a beau ... what a beau ...," I stuttered. It wouldn't open. I heard people laughing. Seconds ticked by as I continued to struggle and my fake daughter stood there mortified. "What a beau ..."
I tried again. I glanced down to see my mom and dad frowning from the third row. Thankfully, the curtains began to close.
"What a beautiful barrette!" I hollered at the last minute, holding it high for all to see right before the curtains came together.
I could hear the audience roaring. Then I heard applause. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was over.
Our teacher came over and hugged me.
"You did good," she said. That was all I heard.
In the fourth grade, we were singing "God Bless America" in music class.
"Sing loud class! Let me hear those voices!" our teacher encouraged.
This is my chance, I thought. I can show them all. I sang at the top of my lungs.
"Stop! Stop!" she hollered, suddenly, waving her hands around with a frustrated look. I glanced at the floor. No one here has any talent, I thought.
"We are singing, not shouting!" she admonished.
Just then, I looked up to see she was bent over, staring right into my face.
In our fifth grade musical, I wound up as a hula dancer. I shook my hips and waved my arms gracefully for three minutes and then left the stage bitterly, eyeballing the girl who had won the lead.
I never did wind up with that lead role. However, this has never exhausted my enthusiasm for singing in my car at the top of my lungs, pretending to be the person on the radio, the days of being stuck backstage long gone.
"Please, please stop," my husband begs.
But this does not phase me. I have heard it all before.
Contact Heather Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.