Dream a Little Dream of Me
I am a dreamer. Literally. I dream when sleeping all the time and most of the time I can connect the dream to something that happened that day.
However, last night I had the most unusual dream. Not only because it was so long but because it wasn’t a dream but memories from high school that had you asked me about earlier that day I wouldn’t have remembered.
I was the youngest kid of many. Close was Kitty, 7 years older, that was in musicals when in high school and would enthrall me with theater tales when she came home after performances.
Closer to my age was Tom, 3 years older, who was ordained by God to be a gym teacher. He spent countless hours of my youth drilling me in how to play baseball, basketball, basically anything with a ball. I hated all of them and had no inherent talent.
When I entered high school I knew sports were off the table so I went with being in the fall musical like Kitty had. It was great fun. The most dramatic, and best looking, students gravitated towards the stage.
In the spring were Junior/Senior plays where upperclassmen directed the lower ones in 20 minute plays. I got a part but the week of rehearsals my best pal died suddenly so I dropped out.
Then came the last day of the year – a half day mainly devoted to giving out awards. Most were sports-related or the then girl fields of typing or stenography. Much to surprise, actors in the Junior-Senior plays got ones.
It lit a fire in me to win an award the following year that was all consuming!
Again, for fun, I was in the fall musical back in the chorus with others that couldn’t sing or dance but it was enjoyable all the same. Come spring I got a hold of every play to be directed by the upperclassmen. I scoured each play to select the play with a teen boy part figuring it was the most like me thus enabling me to win an acting award.
I scored the part!
Come opening night I learned there were only 2 other boys in competition with me for the 2 awards. They were both a year behind me and playing middle aged character parts. I was a playing a teen in my favorite yellow shirt with a 2 in 3 chances of getting an award on the last day of school.
I was disappointed as, despite the odds in my favor, I walked home empty handed.
At the same time were auditions for the fall musical, Jesus Christ Superstar. I stumbled in and leapt out without even an offer to be in the chorus. Later I realize the show had no chorus.
It didn’t much bother me as by then I was old enough for a part time job at Sears. If you want drama in your late 1970s teen life go into retail. It was full of adults laden with bad decisions that got them to work beside me telling tales and having dangerous liaisons that were far superior to those of Catholic high school drama geeks.
Come spring I decided my best chance for an award at the end of year was to win director of the best play in the Junior/Senior plays. I scoured the library with the help of Sr. Mary Where Am I (many clergy in Catholic high school should have been in homes but what school board says no to a free workforce?) We found a short comedy, murder mystery that was right up my alley.
At this point in my life I commuted daily with Natalie. Her parents and mine were pals and she was fun. Natalie immediately accepted my offer to co-direct. Decades later she found me on FaceBook, enjoyed the posts and purchased a million plus house here in town without ever having visited. Suffice to say we still trust each other.
The performance of the play was great and a complete surprise as rehearsals didn’t go well. Natalie and I won best directors for the best show! That elusive end of year award was mine!
Yet it wasn’t.
That year they didn’t give any award for best directors. I was devastated and started the summer on a bummer note.
Come senior year the drama teacher picked Kiss Me Kate. I still have no clue why as it was only briefly popular on Broadway decades earlier so had none of the marquee value of a still-popular Hello Dolly.
Plus when Sr. Mary Where Am I and I got together to read the script during lunch it was a horrible play. Basically a free thinking independent gal is verbally beat into submission by a man realizing she can’t be happy until he is charge of her. What a message for teen girls!
Still, I was a senior and I assumed even if Freshmen got the leads I’d still get a part with lines, a character arc and maybe my own choreography.
Instead I got the only part in the show that required no singing, dancing, arc or even a name. I had one scene with 3 lines to tell the lead female “10 minutes to set.”, “Five minutes to set” and “You’re needed on set”.
Here’s where the dream got weird. I had read the whole play to highlight my three lines but somehow missed the two other times I was to go on stage to simply say “You’re needed on set”. I remember the drama teacher being furious at me during dress rehearsal that I didn’t know it was me to be on set.
The play came and went I didn’t enjoy it. I missed many practices for working at Sears. Plus I peeved the drama teacher by suggesting I played my part with a sock puppet to say my lines. I thought it would add levity.
Still I treaded the boards knowing I’d never be on another stage thinking that was the point of high school, to do things you wouldn’t be able to later.
Then came graduation and the year-end awards ceremony was tied into it. My pal, AnneMarie, won best stenographer as we were completely ignorant that it was a skill to be dead in the near future.
Another pal won best vo-tech student (meaning had the best grades for someone in the Catholic school half the day). Wait a minute! That’s now an award?
I always aced school but not from any academic drive to be the best. I just thought it was my job and it came to me easily.
The winner was Nick, my lunch time pal. Nick was nice but a dodo that was a natural to spend every afternoon building bird houses.
My gut reaction was to tell the principle that award should be mine.
Instantly I realized “Who cares?” I was going off to college and maybe there were awards there. Plus why was I trying so hard for an award that didn’t matter?
When the dream/memory ended I realize three things.
First was I wished some adult had taken my bulbous, bony head and pointed me towards the sports I later enjoyed – hiking, biking, roller blading, weight lifting and such, basically the sports without balls or a team. Not being a team player is a key indicator towards successful entrepreneurship where your big competitor is you.
Secondly, I wish that adult, or any other, had pointed out to me I couldn’t manifest the creation of another’s writings. Nor sing or dance. Instead I should focus on writing my own shows, doing my own hair and make-up and be a one man show called stand up/storytelling that was just starting its 1980s rise in popularity. Where, exactly, my talents laid.
Lastly I’m glad I realized doing any creative venture for an award is stupid. Now, don’t get wrong. I claw for TripAdvisor and Amazon awards for my tours and books. They have zero impact on my self-respect but are good marketing. As long as one knows that, go for it.
Today, in Mexico, I’ve dance across the stages of Mexico’s oldest and most prestigious theaters. Never saw that coming! Plus I traveled hither and yon storytelling on the power of feminine in Mexico treated like royalty in fabulous theaters.
You just never know where high school will lead you!