Coming off a chat
on the phone with my mom, unceremoniously
squeezed in between a nap and my dinner preparations,
She's the one who
dashed crazily out of the house
met me on the front porch
when I won 'Best Performance' for Miracle Worker at 16.
She couldn't wait, she called the school
asked who got it.
Never mind there were only three nominees
the results were a tie between me and Jody Hilbun, who
played Annie Sullivan.
I thought I was pretty good
should have been a dead giveaway; self consciousness
creeping into my work,
all I could think of was
'I'll do better with the next one'.
How to—not an issue. Mr. Gray was leaving
whoever replaced him next year
would cast me in something. I would learn the part and do it.
My mom was the one with an itch to intervene
when performing and rehearsing
got too much and I lost my voice from misuse.
pushed through an audition sounding like Mickey Mouse
on nitrous oxide. What was Mr. Gray thinking?
Was he out to toughen me up?
The Pacifica One Act Play Festival incident might have
been in his mind. The one where I missed an entrance.
off stage left waiting for a blackout.
lights went down—before I had a chance to think, my bladder simply
chose to let go.
There was nothing for it:
lights back up
all the way across the darkened stage
past the furniture in the other scene,
to the platform stage right
where Dave Horton was waiting for me. I was sure
the entire audience could hear my shoes squooshing.
How the devil did my shoes survive
a present brought back from France
my mom said shopping was a welcome distraction from her duty
at her mother's burial
Sometimes pee seems like just water
I must've got lucky
dried off through the course of the play, until
the whole thing seemed like I had dreamed it. Only
Karen Frankenfield, standing next to me, knew what had happened
she wasn't telling.
Sitting with everyone at the luncheon
listening to the panel, piece by piece, give us their
judgments; this group did well, that group did fine,
reserved their highest praise for our effort
and amongst our bunch, they accorded me their greatest compliments.
I carried the day.
The class received an official letter some weeks later
reiterating the Festival's pleasure at our production; Mr. Gray couldn't
cover his disdain.
Interesting that I had been singled out
considering that I was the one who had fouled up my blocking.
Found out not long ago that he's still around,
living in New Orleans. Saw
a picture of him at his 75th birthday, looking
saucy as ever.
So this is for you, W. Grant
Now you know.