Saturday, May 9, 2009

To Cheer Me Up

A story.

An embarrassing story.

An embarrassing story about me.

If that isn't a combination for cheer, I don't know what is.

In college, I was a business major. Econ, Accounting, Management, and so forth. Pretty much write down a list of the most boring things on earth and those are the subjects I was, well, subjected to. Thankfully, my university was one that calls itself a liberal arts school, and students are required to accumulate a handful of socially diverse courses, no matter what their major. So you'd get finance majors in art class. Childhood Education majors in econ 101.

This was good for the most part, and I experienced some things that were really enjoyable. Except for my foray into The Theater. If it weren't for this liberal arts mandate, I might never have known the joy of theater. The drama, the stage directions, the set design, all this might have gone unnoticed had I not eenie-meenie-meinie-moed my way into the Introduction to Theater class my freshman year.

My professor was eccentric and quirky, small but intimidating. It was as if she could see my aura, and could tell I was not in the least bit excited about the magic of theater. I fumbled my way through character developments and improvisations, praying for the end of the semester to save me from this terrifying vortex of drama. To play voice-inflection games on the huge university stage in front of my classmates ranked right up there with loudly and stinkily farting in public. Not that such a thing has ever ever happened to me. Moving on.

Towards the end of that everlasting semester, we were required to see a children's play put on by the theater department. I don't remember much about it, except that I liked nothing about it. I couldn't hear the actors' lines, the lighting was a tad space-shipish for my taste, and I would rather have been at the student union flirting with my hunky boyfriend (hi, hubby!). I could find very little that I enjoyed about the play.

This was troublesome because I knew our professor was going to ask for feedback at the next class. We'd gone through this before with other plays, and I knew I'd be fully expected to relay a few of my opinions. I'm generally a positive person, always looking for the bright side, but I'd had it with this class and was sooo ready for it to end so I could return to my completely normal world of human resource management and business law.

When the next class period came, I still hadn't come up with any acceptable observations. Students all around me were gushing about the set decorations and acting talent, while I remained silent. The professor's bespectacled eyes rested on me when it became clear that I had nothing to say. I quickly tried to find something - anything - positive to say about the play. Finally, I decided that a negative comment didn't have to be a bad thing...there's a lot to be said for constructive criticism, right? So I let loose.

"What I really noticed more than anything was how bad the choreography was during the songs. It was some kind of interpretive dance thing, and it just seems like they should have gone with something a little more...child-like. Something that kids would understand, since it was a kid's play, and all." The professor squinted her eyes and tilted her head, like she wanted to hear more. I thought, Great! She likes my thoughtful commentary! So I gave her more.

"That was really the one thing in the entire play that stands out to me. That awful interpretive dancing by those Eskimo kids. I think something more along the lines of the hokey-pokey or itsy-bitsy spider would've worked much better. For the audience, I mean." Whew. I'm home free! Constructive criticism feels pretty good!

But then I noticed some students behind me squirming. And snickering. And gasping. The professor's mouth was pursed, and with her already squinting eyes, she looked downright hateful. It suddenly occurred to me that I shouldn't have been quite so vehement. Maybe I should've said something more diplomatic. So I quickly added..."But that's just my opinion. I have different tastes than some people and..." Why am I still talking?! SOMEBODY SHUT ME UP!

The classroom was silent for what seemed like an eternity, while we watched the professor's face for her reaction. She took a deep breath, and said, "Well. When I was trying to design the choreography for this play, I really tried to focus on the emotions that were meant to be conveyed." She went on to say more about matching choreography to scripts and the difficulties that are present in such an undertaking, but I couldn't process her words anymore.





My mouth was propped open in a tiny 'o'. All the blood had rushed from my numb extremities and flooded my face. I thought I could hear my guardian angel crying, devastated by my lack of social tact.

It was then that I remembered what she had told us at the beginning of the semester. A little bit of her personal history. Especially the part where she told us about all of her work in choreography and the many plays she had choreographed. Her passion in life.

I would have been expected to know and remember those details, therefore she must have thought I'd insulted her on purpose. Knowingly ripped her passion to shreds.

I wanted to apologize but my mouth was still frozen open, ready to swallow the fiery darts that were shooting from her aura into mine. And even if I'd had the capacity to speak, I wasn't sure if I should...after all, look at what happened the last time I spoke freely.

Sometimes I think that instead of having a Guardian Angel, I'd be better off with an Anti-Stupidity Angel. She would stomp hard on my foot, pinch my arm, and smack me in the forehead.

All of these were warnings that I would have thankfully appreciated in theater class.


  1. Hahaha!!!

    My husband is my Anti-Stupidity angel. Only when he is kicing me under the table, I usually say right out loud... "What? Why did you kick me?"

    Kinda spoils it. LOL

  2. You gotta love those instances when you put your foot in your mouth. Ya just want to crawl under a rock. By the way, like the blog!


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