A Lifetime of Preparation
People have been laughing at me for as long as I can recall. In response to a question or comment in class. Or some social faux pas in middle school…high school…college…. You get the idea.
I once worked for a guy who summed it up this way: “hey, we’re not laughing with you.”
Imagine, if you will, a particularly tense moment in a duet when suddenly…a costume malfunction.
Not that kind!?!
Purim 5771. Grease — The Megillah. Ahasuerus Zuko and Vashti poignantly recall better times in “Palace Nights.” It is my final Purimshpiel with Congregation B’nai Fill-in-the-Blank. As the duet reaches its highpoint, I feel movement; my wig has begun to creep across my scalp. Slowly….slowly. Imperceptible movements, at first. Until, finally, it comes off completely and falls to the ground.
Laughter from the congregation. A kind castmate attempts to replace it. But the damage, as they say, is done. And as I move into my powerhouse solo, I have two choices. I can get upset that my moment in the spotlight has been completely overshadowed by a runaway hairpiece. OR. I can use the lifeless postiche as a prop, as if it was a blocking choice. I chose the option #2. Which left the audience in complete hysterics to see a wigless heroine play it straight, with wig in hand.
My children were sitting in the congregation. They witnessed two hundred people laughing — hard — at their mother. It was one of my finest moments as a mom. As if a lifetime of being laughed at was in preparation for this one teachable instance. I had a roomful of folks in stitches — and it was OK. The power of being hurt was in my hands, not theirs. And as I long as I didn’t abdicate that power, I could manipulate a potential hurtful experience into a successful, comedic one.
You can believe that it my wig was the topic of conversation on the drive home. Beernut was concerned that everyone was laughing at me (they were) and Poppyseed wanted to know if my feelings were hurt (they weren’t). We talked about the difference between the biting, caustic laughter meant to deflate a person’s sense of worth and the good-natured guffaws as a result of something very, very funny. Had I not been mid-lyric at the time, and if it didn’t mean breaking from character, I might have laughed as well.
Though my reaction was concealed, on this night, they really were laughing with me.
Remembe(RED) is a memoir meme. Know what’s NOT funny? People laughing at you. This week, we’ve been asked to recall an embarrassing moment in our lives. Did someone embarrass me or was it a result of my own actions? Am I still embarrassed or am I able laugh at it now? So many, many, MANY moments from which to choose…and with the usual limit of 600 words. As always, constructive criticism is welcomed!