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There was also a character named Pappy Yokum who did cartwheels in overalls.

A fact that most of you do not know about me (unless you know me personally, and then you are all-too-well-aware) is that I am possibly the most awkward person alive. I have trouble walking smoothly, I’m so awkward. I fall a lot. Winter is very, very dangerous for me. I walk like a 90-year old woman when there’s ice on the ground. No, I don’t have some sort of medical imbalance issue. I’m just extremely clumsy and I bruise, sprain and break easily when I do fall.

I also can’t sing. At all. I can’t carry a tune to save my life. (Luckily, this scenario hasn’t come up. It would be an interesting one, though. Thugs – wearing black eye-masks, of course – wielding guns would say, “Sing ‘My Heart Will Go On,’ and sing it in tune, or prepare to meet your maker, toots!” and I would die about three notes into the song. Oh, also my imaginary thugs are from the 20’s. And are probably wearing zoot suits.) I’m not saying I don’t sing – I sing like a pro in my car (when alone – not when someone else is riding along with me) and in my living room (again, while alone.) But in front of people – no. No, sir. No, ma’am. I am tone-deaf. Well, I don’t know if I fit the official definition of the term. I can hear it if someone else is singing off-key. But I can’t hear it if I do. What’s the name for that? Self-tone deafness? That. I am that. I have that. That is me.

I went to a small high school, and our drama club put on one show a year. Each year, it alternated between a straight show and a musical. I was known as a bit of an actress (what? MOI? I know, totally shocking, right?) so when senior year rolled around and it was my last chance to act in high school before graduation, I was not the most excited to realize we were in a musical year.

L’il AbnerHave any of you seen this? It is – well, it’s not a good musical. That’s really putting it gently. There are songs called “Rag Offen the Bush” (this is not about what the title implies it to be about) and “If I Had my Druthers” (that one’s a love song. No, seriously.) It’s not the worst musical ever, or anything, but it’s not high art.

Auditions rolled around. I wasn’t really lead-role material. I could act, sure. But this was a musical. The leads were kind of expected to be able to carry a tune. And dance a little. I was cast as the sultry seductress who attempts to woo L’il Abner away from his true love (and, in a stroke of luck/very intelligent casting, choose your poison, one of the only roles who did not sing or dance at all – she stood and filed her nails in a slinky dress and made kissy-lips at L’il Abner, mostly), and one of the townspeople (costumes would trick the audience into thinking I was two different people. Much like Superman and Clark Kent.) (Note – no one was fooled.)

In Act I, I was a townsperson. This involved singing in the aforementioned huge hit “Rag Offen the Bush” (stop snickering. What are you, 12? It’s about celebrating the fact that the town is boring. By using adorable country aphorisms. That’s it. Good grief) and a couple of other songs. I think “Jubilation T. Cornpone” was one. And one where we introduced the townsfolk, one of which was a woman who smelled so ripely of pigshit that she had to woo while standing downwind of her intended. (The character, not the actress, just to be clear. I have no idea what the actress smelled like.)

OK, did you understand that the first paragraph of this diatribe set up the fact that I am one clumsy piece of work? Because I am. I don’t know my left from my right. No, I’m serious. Sometimes I have to hold up my hands and see on which hand the pointer and thumb make an “L” on to tell you which is my left hand. I also don’t understand things like “kick ball change.” What? What does that mean? Is it shuffling? Because I can’t even do that in rhythm. Shuffle, I mean. I can’t do exercise videos; I try, I really do, but I end up jogging in place just to keep my heart rate up and halfheartedly moving my arms. The Macarena confused me. Hey! Hey, listen, though! I can do a mean Chicken Dance. No, seriously! Once, I was in a play in college where I had to do it, and they brought in a dance coach (yes, for the CHICKEN DANCE, I cannot reiterate enough how AWKWARD I AM) and after a month or so of coaching, she beat that dance into my head. So don’t you worry, if you invite me to your wedding, I will lead the Chicken Dance and it will be FULL OF WIN.

So, after a few weeks of me running into people, left-ing when it was time for right-ing, and sometimes breaking into something which may or may not have resembled the Electric Slide, the director gave me some of the best directorial advice I have ever gotten.

“Amy,” she said, “I’m going to have you stand here for the dance scenes.”

She pointed to a spot on the stage, and I stood there, very proud I had a special dancing spot. Most likely this was because I was a standout in the ensemble. Queen of the ensemble, if you will. This was to be expected. I was a BIG STAHHHHH. I looked out into the audience, but I could not see them. And I realized that was because my very super-special spot was behind a tree. A large, plywood tree.

I then decided, since I was not going to be seen for the ensemble scenes (and let me tell you, I was styling, in my calico top, jorts, and pigtails tied with yarn) I was going to sing really loudly, because otherwise, why was I there?

The director walked over about fifteen minutes into this.

“Amy,” she said, “I’m going to ask you to sing more quietly.”

“Like this?” I said, and sang more quietly.

“Um, no, how about like, this?” she said, and then mouthed the words with no sound coming out.

My brilliance was obviously unappreciated.

However! In Act II, I was Appassionata von Climaxx. Senior year of high school, I had gone on some sort of odd anorexic-style diet in which I only ate Special K, skim milk, saltines, and LaChoy Chinese Vegetables (from a can.) I also worked out for about an hour a day. If anyone’s looking for a diet tip from me, here is one – don’t do this. However, I was skinny. And this was a good thing, since Apassionata’s dress was…um…inappropriate for a 17-year-old to be wearing, especially around other 17-year-olds. It was a little scanty. Around the breast area. And I was quite tall (I say that like I’ve shrunk – I’m still fairly tall, obviously) and there were a lot of underclassmen who weren’t as tall, so their sightlines were chest-high. My friend had to run interference. “Stop staring. No. She’s not interested. Stop it. HER EYES ARE UP HIGHER CREEPY MCGEE,” she’d say, as I froze to death in the little scrap of a dress and possibly suffered from scurvy from that diet. It was a wonder my teeth didn’t fall out.

Sidebar – one guy gave me a mix tape (SHUT UP, WE DID THAT THEN, CDS WEREN’T UBIQUITOUS FOR A FEW MORE YEARS) and all it was was the song “I Want You to Want Me” by Cheap Trick, over and over, on both sides. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the song, but…um…I don’t? Want you?And thanks? I guess? Do you only own one song? This is – this is an odd gift, no?  Those tapes were like what, 90 minutes long or something? That takes dedication, with a big ol’ scoop of crazy on top.

Once the play ended (I did not receive rave reviews – I think I mostly was almost passing out from lack of sustenance, and also I wasn’t visible or audible for most of Act I, really) the director signed my yearbook with this gem (and I quote): “Amy: nice job on the play. For a while, I wasn’t so sure, because of your ‘ego.’ I guess all of the talented people in the world are that way. (I know I am!)”

Hi, drama coach!  YOU PUT ME BEHIND A FLIMSY LUAN TREE AND TOLD ME I COULDN’T SING OUT LOUD AND THEN PUT ME IN A PORNO WHORE DRESS IN FRONT OF BOYS SURGING WITH ENOUGH TESTOSTERONE TO FUEL A JET LINER. Thank you, though, for the backhanded compliment (and way to go, shoehorning one in for yourself, there, too!) Way to influence the minds of the young, lady. Kudos. No, sincerely, ku-friggin-dos.

What I took from this experience? Well, listen. I still know most of the words to “Rag Offen the Bush.” What? You want me to sing it? Oh, no way. You’re too kind. I’m blushing! Here you are, my lovelies:

“Don’t that take the rag offen the bush;
 Don’t that take the tassel offen the corn;
 Of all the very ordinary, most unloved, unnecessary,
 Places on this earth, none’s better than our’n,
 None’s better than our’n!”

What? I’m singing too loud? You’d like me to step behind the – listen, screw you. I ROCKED those jorts. You know you want to make me a mix tape. Too late! (OK, fine, my car still plays tapes. I know. It’s 2011. I don’t have an excuse for it. But I still don’t want your shitty pity mix tape.)

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About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

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