First of all, I blame this whole thing on Megyn Kelly. Second, I do not believe the decisions that I make deserve the outcome that they get.
Back in October a writing colleague suggested that I look into Storycatchers, a local live story telling event. An open mic night was scheduled for a Wednesday at 6:00 PM, hardly convenient for any woman between the ages of 25-55. Nonetheless I decided I must try it, and two of my friends wanted to come along for support. That Wednesday afternoon out of the blue at 2:00pm like a lightning bolt to my neck, I was struck with spontaneous laryngitis. Panicked and desperate I sucked on lozenges and drank tea with honey for the next four hours, with no sign of abatement. By 4:00 my voice catapulted over the sexy Jessica Rabbit stage and landed squarely on Marge Simpson.
I really wanted to give up, just say forget the whole thing because I’d probably embarrass myself anyway, but my two friends inconvenienced themselves and their families just for me. I would have chickened out but the wheels of babysitters and microwave meals were already set in motion. Marge Simpson or not, I was taking the mic.
I croaked out a version of a story despite the iron grip fate had secured upon my vocal cords. Surprisingly, the coordinator of Storycatchers said she definitely wanted me to perform at the next evening event. That she liked my voice. Fully confident that she meant my writing voice and not Marge Simpson, I agreed to do it.
Then I went home and thought about what I had agreed to. A seed of panic turned into an unwieldy weed garden. I couldn’t do this. What would I say? It was scary up there. So I decided to do what I normally do in the face of something unpleasant. I buy lipstick. Only this was really scary and lipstick alone was not going to do the job. So I’m doing what I do best, which is being paralyzed by fear, and on the TV is Megyn Kelly promoting her new book.
Now, I don’t care what your political leanings are- the fact is Megyn Kelly is cute as a button. And I notice when they show her from a side angle that she is wearing false eyelashes. That’s it, I declare to myself and the dog – I am getting some false eyelashes.
And I did, I bought the best ones I could find. The saleslady put them on me and I felt like a diva. I texted all my friends. Forget Botox, you gotta get yourself some false eyelashes.
One of my more grounded friends reminded me that I better practice putting them on before the big event. And I knew just the place I needed the confidence boost. Earlier in the week, when I was submitting my idea for the Storycatchers event, the coordinator, Tara, asked if I would be interested in recording my blogs for her website. This would be the perfect trial run for my new “lash on life.”
Tara had also suggested that she would be willing to record anything else I might have. I aim to please, but I don’t have much else. Most of my other projects are lengthy and they are spoken for. But I did have another story. It was older, not my usual flavor. I wrote it when my Dad was dying of cancer. Here’s the tricky part, I have never been able to read that story aloud. I just can’t get through it. A lot of time has passed since I wrote that story, and I’ve done a lot of live readings and audio work since then. I was certain I could do it.
With my blogs, the story, and my super eyelashes, I headed for Storycatchers. I met with Tara and told her I had the blogs and one other story. I cautioned her that it was not the same as my other pieces and perhaps she would like to read it first to see if she would like to include it. She read it and agreed it would work. We got to recording the blogs first. All went smoothly and when I was done, she handed me the story. Now the story doesn’t start off sentimental, in fact in the beginning it’s sort of funny. I’m reading fine, giving no indication that I might have some sort of breakdown. Well, then I get to the part where the Dad comes into the story. And what’s weird is that this Dad is not at all like my Dad – still the words will not come out. They are stuck in my throat. I can see the words but my heart, my mouth, is seized by an overwhelming emotion. My eyes well up.
As you can imagine, this does not go unnoticed by someone sitting next to you, let alone someone who is recording you. I turn to look at her and apologize. I repeat that I am sorry. I confess that I just can’t read this story aloud. I apologize again for my complete, as it must appear, spontaneous onset of insanity.
It is just at that moment that I notice a grayish cloud in my vision. My false eyelash is dangling vertically over my right eye. I ask, “Is my eyelash falling off?” She nods her head, no doubt rendered speechless at my emotional ungluing and cosmetic malfunction. I peel the eyelash off and grasp it firmly between my index finger and thumb. Just then, her famous brother walks in. (Really, he is a local celebrity. He can put asses in seats.) The whole scene is awkward and is in dire need of clarification, I’m looking like Clockwork Orange, the air is charged with grief, empathy, and embarrassment, and it would be rude to ignore people right in front of you.
He may have went to shake my hand in the introduction, quite honestly I’m not sure. In the confusion, we explained that I had lost an eyelash. Being a gentleman, he starts scanning the floor not sure what to do in this kind of lady emergency to which I show him the furry caterpillar looking thing that is my eyelash clenched between my fingers. I think Tara at some point explains who I am and either she or I mention how I lost my voice at open mic night. He asks, “Was it nerves?” It’s a perfectly normal question, not loaded or accusatory but when it gets to my brain which contains a Rube Golberg type contraption that runs on neuroses, self-loathing and low self-esteem a normal question sounds like an attack on my talents. No, I declare with unwarranted indignation I had a legit cold. I had mucous.
These are the types of introductions that I make, a veritable roadmap on how to win friends and the respect of intelligent people.
All this from eyelashes. Darn that Megyn Kelly.