When I was in the first grade, I had a teacher that assured me that I would grow up to be nothing beyond a garbage collector. At the time, I was devastated because I was still too young to realize how much those guys make. If only she had been right, I would probably be dictating this blog instead of typing it myself.
I, however, did not take her forecast seriously, since even then, I knew I was destined for greatness. I certainly was not a student, and actually had no apparent qualities that made me stand out, except perhaps those recognized by my first grade teacher. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I was sure it would happen.
It wasn’t until the second grade that I found my calling. It came in the form of a school play. It was a pageant of sorts, with various groups of students either singing or dancing. I however, was selected, to everyone’s amazement including my own, to be the M.C. As the day approached, we had several dress rehearsals during which I had no difficulty performing my role. In fact, I personally felt I had the easiest job. Make a quick announcement and then go sit down until it was my turn again. A real cakewalk.
On the day of the show, I was first up so, standing center stage, I waited for the curtains to part. When they did, I took one step forward and froze. There before me sat every adult in Massachusetts and, I was sure, a few they had bused in from Rhode Island. And the room was dead quiet. That in itself was not so bad, except, they were all waiting for me to say something. Getting a slight grasp of my faculties, I began to announce the first act. However, it quickly became apparent that I could only remember the name of one of the girls that were about to sing and of course, I had not had the foresight to write them down. So I did what any good M.C. would have done. I said “And now Phoebe Hinchy and ‘another girl’ will sing “The Garden Song”, and then quickly retreated back behind the curtain to the sound of chuckles and snickers. That is when I knew where my future lay. Through no fault of my own, I had made people (big people) laugh. Hollywood, here I come.
It wasn’t until the third grade when the casting call went out for anyone that wanted to audition for the upcoming presentation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, that the juices of a thespian once again ran roughshod through my body. It was fate. I was sure they remembered my stellar performance from the year before and I would therefore be selected for a plum role. Perhaps even that Prince dude that kisses the sleeping chick. I was ready, and, it turns out, so were they. After the auditions, the cast was selected and, much to my chagrin, I was cast as a dwarf. Not just any dwarf. I was to play Dopey. DOPEY. What were they thinking. There was definitely a problem within the directorial team. Hadn’t they seen my performance the year before? Looking back now, I suspect they had and made their decision accordingly. Anyway, as third grade plays go, it was a smash hit, earning rave reviews (by our teacher).
By now, the die was cast. I was hopelessly in love with the stage. However, it seemed like forever before the fourth grade Christmas pageant was announced. Again, not one to rest on my laurels, I stepped up and offered my rather significant skills and experience, and again made the cut. This time, I was cast as an Angel. I remember going home and telling my mother that I was going to be an Angel. She looked at me and said “You!! An Angel!!” Then she laughed and gave me a hug. I on the other hand, totally missing the inference and, in an effort to retain some shred of respect, advised her that “there are boy Angels”.
I pretty much gave up the stage after that. It had become pretty obvious to me that I had, even at my early age been typecast and that any efforts to rise above secondary roles would probably be met with disappointment. So I retired from the theater and concentrated on determining what skills were required to be a garbage man. But, if I had wanted to. I mean really wanted to, I could have been a star. In fact, I drew one on the sidewalk in front of my house, but the rain washed it away. I guess what they say is true. Fame is fleeting.