Tuesday, August 1, 2006

California Dreamin' - Pt. 6 - How I Blew My First Stage Performance

The Continuing Journey of Finding My Roots....

California Dreamin' - Pt. 6 - How I Blew My First Stage Performance

The most I can remember when living on base at Fort Ord, California, was that the houses were so dang close together. Reminded me of the brownstones in New York, only these houses were shaped differently and had yards, but they were dab smack right beside each other.

I shared a room with my sister, who was only two. I loved my room, though. I especially loved to line up my stuffed animals in rows and play teacher. They all had assignments, but it was really boring grading tests.

I was much of a loner, but friends gravitated to me. Not sure the reason why, but that’s the only way I had friends at all. I was never the first one to make the first move and sometimes I felt my personal space being invaded. I guess anyone else would call it shyness. I’m not sure what you’d call it. A need for privacy, perhaps.

I really enjoyed being by myself and would come up with all sorts of projects craft-wise. My little sister especially hated it when she found me crawled up into her high chair using the tray as my desk and working on some kind of project. I was crazy even back then.

But, I had a creative mind, the teachers told me.

Teachers. School. Ugh. Don't even get me started on that one.

Being an Army brat had its consequences. You hated school. You hated starting new schools and you hated attending them when you did.

I think it’s because the traveling bug had bit you and being confined in one room for hours at a time wasn’t your cup of tea. You would stare out the window at the sky wishing you were on one of those airplanes passing over, taking you to God knows where, but you didn’t care. You just wanted to go.

I wish I could remember the name of that school or even the teacher, but unfortunately, I can’t. Even as much as I despised the whole institution for confining me, the teacher loved me. She cast me as Mary (top billing) in the school play at Christmas time and I hated her for it. I think my long blonde hair was what turned this teacher on to me or maybe something else, but whatever it was, I wish I didn’t have it. These people just didn’t realize I wasn’t meant to be in the spotlight and fought it every step of the way.

I got even though. Feisty little kid as I was.

For my part, I was supposed to pick up baby Jesus out of the basket, hold him and cradle him at a certain point of this particular Christmas song. Not only did I hate school and hated being in the spotlight against my will, I was supposed to do something that totally went against by beliefs—hold a fake baby for the entire world to see.

You see, baby dolls were sissy.

Being somewhat of a tomboy, I was never caught with a baby doll in my hands or anywhere near my possession. While I did cherish my Tammy doll (she was hip) and I did think a lot of my grandmother sending me a bride doll from Rhode Island (you didn’t have to cradle her), baby dolls were what sissy girls played with. After all, I was seven and that’s what little girls played with, not me.

I’m not even sure why this was. I had baby dolls as a young child, but once I became “worldly,” they were a thing of the past and to make me pick up this baby doll and cradle it in my arms was the sissiest thing I could think of.

Now, if it was a real baby, then that was fine, but not a fake baby. ACK.

My “boyfriend” (or at least, that’s what he said he was and I have no idea how that happened) was chosen to play Joseph. I think that’s the reason I had this problem with the whole baby thing. If he saw me do this, I wouldn’t be one of the guys anymore and would be reverted back to being a sissy girl and he wouldn’t like me anymore.

The day of the play arrived. Most of the parents showed up except mine. I’m not even sure of the reason. Perhaps I never told them because I didn’t want them to see me pick up a sissified baby doll.

I took my place on this throne-like chair with “Joseph” right beside me. I was nervous as shit. I kept looking out the window hoping someone would throw a bomb inside but I had no such luck.

The song came on and they came to the part where I was to pick up baby Jesus, only…I didn’t do it.

My teacher glared at me, nodding towards baby Jesus, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

“Joseph” leaned over and said, “Pick the baby up, Mary,” with this shit-eating grin almost daring me to do it and I ignored him and made a mental note to can him as my boyfriend just as soon as I hung up my Mary hat.

All the other children were giggling, figuring that I must be the worse actor in the world not to remember my one thing I was supposed to do, but I didn’t care.

I had principles.

After it was over, no one said a word. I guess it didn’t matter after all whether I picked up baby Jesus or not. I was just glad it was over. This was my first stage appearance and while I guess I didn’t make the best actor in the world, I proved to myself that when I believed in something, I believed in something and nothing in this world was going to make me change my mind.

While this was my first stage performance, and possibly my worst, it didn't stop people from trying to get me to perform. Again and again. Stay tuned to the next installment of "California Dreamin'" and find out..... ;o)


  1. That is a neat memory. I just got back from two weeks in the town where I grew up. There was a picnic for students from the grade school I attended, then a group of friends from all over the country met for a few days to visit, eat & remember things with and about each other. I had to leave before it all was finished but it was sure a good time for me. I did get a post up on my blog this morning about our dinner at the Hot Rod Cafe last Sat night.

    Your California trip is getting closer & I imagine you are getting excited about it. You might be able to chase some things down over the Internet that you want to check on, as you did with the contact in the library. Go searching for schools in the Ft. Ord area. Ask the district offices around there in Monterey, Seaside, etc. where the records would be stored from that time period. You might be surprised what all you can do from home.

  2. Wow, Dick, I will really do that. I recognize those names...Monterey...Seaside. So much to do and think about. Yes, getting very excited.

  3. Hey, relationships are supposed to be based on honesty and you certainly gave your "boyfriend" at the time a good dose of that! :o)

    To Love, Honor and Dismay

  4. LOL, seems to be the way to do it. ;o)

  5. Dorothy - this is a memoir just waiting to be published. You have such a creative gift and that picture is sooooo adorable!! And I can relate to some of it, although I loved school, but I also didn't play with dolls - had a Bride doll - but I preferred my little brother's cars. The neighborhood boys came over to my house to play baseball, basketball, and tetherball with me.

  6. Wow, thank you, Kathy! With all the competition out there, though, I don't know. Getting an agent interested in anything is about like pulling teeth. But, I do have it in the back of my mind so maybe one day. ;o)

  7. Funny how the things that shape your life remain so clear in your mind, whereas this incident passed the other participants right on by. Your rebellious streak came out early, huh? Thanks for the story! And you were a cutie pie little girl, whether you liked it or not!

  8. Dorothy - I blogged about your journey on Fatherless Daughters.

    People are touched by stories about a journey looking for closure or fatherless daughters - even if they don't say it outloud.


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