I was offered this advice today:
"Try writing something cheerful and funny for a change -- you've been awfully depressing lately."
To which I said, "WHAT?
"Do you watch the news? Who wants to get on the computer after being thoroughly brought down by the events in the world and read this depressing sh*t?"
"Well, if you're incapable of having an adult conversation ... "
So -- in honor of That Person I will share another humiliating tale from my childhood, and make no mention of poverty and other stuff that annoys me.
Stars and Stripes Forever
It turns out my daughter Lily is a real patriot. She's been strutting about singing the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America non-stop since Veteran's Day. Her little voice belting out "for the ramparts of the free gave proof to the night that our ramparts were streaming ..." reminds of me of a rather embarrassing solo I performed at a summer camp talent show in 1987.
All of the girls in my cabin were putting on makeup and dressing up like their favorite rock stars. There were quite a few Madonnas and a couple of Cindy Laupers. One girl sang Sunzanne Vega's Luca. Someone else was a rapper, which to me -- dork that I was -- meant garbage, as in the rapper with a "W." Everyone was excited for the big show -- me especially, because I was performing this great song I learned from Pollyanna called America the Beautiful.
I was last on the lineup, so you'd think at some point -- sitting through various depictions of Wham!, Material Girl, Twisted Sister, Rapper's Delight, and so on -- I'd figure out that my little ditty about the nation's purple mountains and wheat fields was a poor choice. But no -- I never gave it a second thought.
My stomach felt fine as I marched out on stage -- not a single butterfly. My palms were dry. My head was clear. I sang my song all alone in the spotlight -- no accompaniment of any kind. I sang and I sang. And when I was finished the people in the audience stared up at me, dumbstruck. There was no applause, no boos, no laughter -- silence. I stood there forever-- wondering to myself, "Do I go? Do I stay? Will they clap? What am I supposed to do?"
A counselor eventually took hold of my hand and led me off stage.
No one clapped.