Monday, December 7, 2009

Public Indecency

I am still finding it quite strange and a bit off-putting to be baring my soul in this somewhat public arena. (I don't know why it is so different from doing the same strip tease in an email letter.) This got me to thinking about my early life as the world's most excruciatingly Shy Person and of my subsequent blessed transformation into.....I dunno.....a run-of-the-mill Brazen Hussy. I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had been able to kick the shyness much earlier, but I must be content with no longer suffering those awful pangs of fear and shame. Which brings me to my current blog subject...... A dear friend of mine enrolled recently in a Singing Class. When she first told me about this venture I assumed it was a choral group of some kind and I was smitten with admiration and envy.......I have long wanted to do something of the same sort because I love to sing (I have no voice, but that doesn't stop me....I can mostly sing on key in either a squeaky falsetto or a surprising baritone).....I entertain myself and my cats often by crooning the wonderful old songs of the 40's and 50's, most of which I can recall perfectly (whereas on other matters like finding where I put my glasses or the cup of coffee I was drinking a moment ago or that precious receipt from a recent purchase gone wrong which I MUST find in order to be able to return the item or remembering what the hell I came into this room for, I am a total failure) I was saying I have long pined wistfully for a venue where I could sing with other folk, sing harmony actually, but am not sure where to find this group who would allow me to sing along with them. (My ambition as a child was to be the fourth member of the Andrews Sisters....a marvelous singing group from the dark ages for those of you who were born more or less yesterday). When I discovered that my friend's Singing Class was not a chorus but a solo performance I nearly fainted in empathetic terror. My friend, brave initially, (or totally foolhardy) is now facing her solo performance a week from now and is deteriorating into a basket case now that she realizes with horror what she has actually let herself in for. Anyway, in trying to send her a few words of email comfort I was reminded of an episode in my distant past which had me immersed in a similar swamp of fear and trembling and which enabled me to sympathize so well. Below is an excerpt from my letter. "I am down on my knees as I write (no small involves having to take the keyboard down under the desk) but that is the only way I will be able to pray for you incessantly till your ordeal is over .... I can empathize more than you would ever believe. No, I have never had to sing a solo in public, but when I was young I was so shy and had such a monstrous lack of self confidence that I used to walk down alleys to get to where I was going so that I did not have to risk encountering any human who might look at me with curiosity, contempt and/or loathing. (the stray cats and dogs which I did encounter, trotting purposefully about their business, did not judge me and only made me feel not so alone) My worst moment, I think, was in High School English class........ I knew from my first yearin High School that in the 3rd Year I would have to face the Horror of the Great order to pass 3rd year English one had to debate with another student on some pre assigned subject.... standing up in front of the whole class of course. (If it had been in front of the whole school I know I would have had to drop out and become one of the Lost Children, probably ending up as a Lady of the Night). I swear to you that as my 3rd year arrived I was unable to sleep peacefully one single night....the terror consumed me 24 hours a day....and this was early in the semester even before the week of the debate lesson arrived. By the time I was assigned a partner/opponent and a subject (it was something about the railroads but I have mercifully blocked the actual subject from my mind) I was a total pitiful wreck, even unable to eat much less sleep. (you KNOW things are bad when I can't eat). I painfully assembled a few facts for the body of my presentation but the content was dreadful, I know. The actual moment of the nightmare is also mostly a blank, thank heaven, but I do recall that I managed to mutter, stammer and falter through my material in the main part of the "debate", hardly speaking above a whisper, was so traumatized that I did not recall a word my opponent said in his piece and when it came to the Rebuttal, instead of doing a masterful summing up, I was unable to do more than croak out one sentence before tottering ignominiously to my seat and sinking into a pit of shame. Oh, the horror of it !! That was almost 70 years ago and I can still break out into a sweat just thinking of it. The only difference between your situation and mine is that yours is Self Inflicted. You must be a Class A Masochist and therefore will enjoy this mightily on some level so just hang in there and when it is over you will be able to revisit and reexperience the episode whenever you need a Pain fix. (this does not mean that I am any less sympathetic......suffering is suffering even when it is one's own fault. Poor heart goes out to you. Just keep your strength up for a bit longer. The way time and our lives whiz by this will be over in a twinkling.....the performance I mean....." Sigh. That same abominable shyness was also responsible for my emerging from about seven years of studying Spanish in High School and College able to read the language fairly proficiently but being totally unable to utter a Spanish word other than "Si". (very dangerous when you are unable to say anything but "yes") Fortunately in my late adulthood dotage, actually, I have lost the shyness and now will speak Spanish at the drop of a sombrero, as long as whatever I want to say can be expressed in present tense and with florid gestures and bits of English thown in to fill in where my vocabulary fails me.......) Thank heaven I became fearless in time to be able to travel the world with only the most meager of language......I have found that being able to utter "please, thank you, where is and how much" will pretty nearly get you through almost anyplace in the world.......

No comments:

Post a Comment