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Forgiveness is a Bitch in Character Shoes

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back when we were innocent...and didn't have character shoes...

I was in a show once and there was a young girl who stood next to me. So far so good right? We were in a big line across the stage and then we would all turn to face right which meant that she was then in front of me. Ok, still with me? Every single rehearsal and every single performance this young girl screwed up. All 23 of us would be kicking forward and she would inevitably would kick backward. And that means she was kicking me right in my shin. Every. Single. Time.

But, I couldn’t let it show on my face that my shin was swelling and I wanted to scream. I had to look like I enjoyed being kicked in the same spot really hard by a tall chick in character shoes. Some people may enjoy that, I am sure there are videos out there for those who do, I don’t. And every night we would come off stage and she would turn to me with a worried look on her face and say in her most sincere voice ” I am SO sorry!!” and I would reply in my most sincere voice “It’s ok.” and I would limp off to get changed for the next number. Every. Single. Time.

Now, I was getting less tolerant and more angry as the weeks went by. I was very resentful that this chick couldn’t get this right. It wasn’t that hard. I mean, 23 other people did it right every night. I tried not to take the kick to the shin personally. This chick was far too young and far too scared to actually be kicking me on purpose. The bitch who was old enough and brave enough to outright kick me was at the other end of the line. But she’s another story. The last weekend of the show I couldn’t take it anymore. Before we even went out for the number I turned to the chick and said “Please, please do not kick me tonight.” and she said “Ok, I won’t I promise I will get it right!” and out we went.

Every. Single. Time. Like clock work I felt the now familiar flare of pain radiate up my leg. As soon as we got off stage she turned to me with tears in her eyes and said ‘I am SO sorry!” Too little too late. I said “I never want to hear you say I’m Sorry again. Just STOP KICKING ME!!!!” And I turned and stormed off to our dressing room. The poor girl cried at that one. She had to redo all of her makeup. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? One, two-o-o three-e-e CrUnCh. How many kicks does it take to piss me off royally? One, two-o-o, three-e-e, twenty-five and ENOUGH!!!

This was the best lesson I ever had about the power of forgiveness. She kept telling me she was sorry but she continued to kick me. So, how sorry was she really? I guess “sorry” didn’t mean much to her. Or maybe it was me saying “it’s ok” that gave her the idea that she didn’t really have to change. I find it wonderous that I put up with it as long as I did. I have a high tolerance for asshole-ish-ness behavior and a higher tolerance for pain. The first 15 kicks to the shin I truly believed she was just young and new. I was young and new once. I had made mistakes. The next 10  kicks, I started to understand that she was just ignorant. Ok, what was I going to do about it? Kick her back? Move my spot? Loosen the heels of her shoes so that on her nightly kick to my shin she would topple over like a rag doll?

I told her exactly what I needed to hear. Don’t apologize anymore, just change your behavior. Because if you’re truly sorry, you will change so that you never do that again. Making amends. I wonder how many shins I kicked? But in making amends, I will never kick another shin. And if I do, I will apologize and not do it again. Actions speak louder than words. Bruises fade, but actual change can last a lifetime. Today, in addition to an apology, I change the offensive behavior whether that means no beans before bedtime or using a napkin rather than the couch, I do it.

The young chick did go on to join The Rockettes. She was subsequently fired for breaking the leg of the girl behind her with an exceptionally hard kick to the shin. She was last seen kicking clients in a fetish club downtown and she never has to say she’s sorry. It’s all for the best.

(c)sparklingbytheway

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I’m a Star

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dreaming.....

I have always been pretty quiet. I was never noticed in classes in school. My freshman english teacher actually said to the kid ahead of me “Wake up the red head behind you and ask her for a pencil”. That was in June after I had been in her class all year. I had this really savvy therapist once who told me that I dye my hair red so that I can be noticed without saying anything. And here I thought it was because I liked red hair. I stayed under the radar, never causing trouble. Except in dance class. Then I stood out. But if I had to speak or sing, forget it.

I was doing a show, Sugar, a musical based on Some Like It Hot. I was a dancer, duh. But I also had to “sing” which for me means “lip synch with style”. There was one scene where we had duets. I was paired up with a singer. We had to stick our head through a curtain and sing real loud “Chicago’s 11 below…and the forecast is snow…in chi  ca  go…” That’s all fine and good because like I said I was paired with a singer who sang. So, I just stuck my head out and mouthed the words. Works for me. I have one of those voices that no one needs to hear singing alone. I can carry a tune, I do ok in choral parts, but a solo? Not a chance.

This is a fact I was well aware of because my best friends were singers and they sang all the time. One of my best friends was the lead in this particular show. So, if I ever had any doubts as to the adequacy of my voice, she put it to rest. I’m a realistic person so I was ok with the idea that I should never, ever, under any circumstances sing out loud alone except in my shower and even then, only if no one else was in the house. We all have our strengths and singing was not mine.

One night, I crawl up into the berth (because we were in a train, headed for Chicago, in the show, not in real life) and I wait for my partner, the singer, to get up there to. It was dress rehearsal so we had half a house (audience) of parents and friends. It was almost time for our duet and my partner wasn’t there. I started to sweat. And there’s the music que, our line was the first line in the song. And there goes the music cue. The director yells “What happened?” I stick my head out of the curtain and say “My partner’s not here” and he looks at me like I’m seriously mentally impaired and says “And…?” I say “And I don’t sing?” Impossible. “Sing the line.” “But I….” “SING THE LINE!!!”

In the smallest, quietest voice I have I sing “chicagos11belowandtheforecastissnowinchicago” Sweat is dripping, my heart is pounding, I duck back behind the curtain and try to get my hyperventilating under control. “DO IT AGAIN!!!” the director yells. WHAT???!!! He’s kidding right? I look across to the other girls and say “He doesn’t mean me does he?” They just shake their heads yes and point to stick my head thru the curtain. “AGAIN!!!!”

“chicagos11belowandtheforecastissnowinchicago”  “AGAIN LOUDER!!!”  “chicagos11belowandtheforecastissnowinchicago”  “LOUDER!!!”  “chicagos11belowandtheforecastissnowinchicago”  AGAIN LOUDER…DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT LOUDER MEANS??????”  eh hem…”Chicago’s 11 Below andtheforecastissnowinchicago”  “AGAIN!!”  This went on for 8 hours….ok more like 5 minutes. The entire audience was enthralled….like they were watching a slow motion car accident. They couldn’t look away. The louder I sang the worse I got. The more off key, the more red in the face, the sweat was making a pool on the floor in front of me. I finally sang it loud enough or the director’s hemorrhoids stopped flaring because he said “Let’s go on”. 

I put it behind me and got through the rest of the show. The cast went out after rehearsal and we all rehashed my spectacular solo performance, again and again and again. By the end of the evening everyone was singing, off key, in their loudest voices “chicagos11belowandtheforecastissnowinchicago” Ha ha ha ha ha. But I could dance rings around them all and my costume fit the best and my wig was the cutest, like I said, we all have our strengths. Honestly, it didn’t bother me too much. It was confirmation of what I already knew. I was not a singer. And it was funny.

I went to the show the next night and reamed out my partner for not being there the night before. She had already heard the story and was apologizing while wiping the tears of laughter from her eyes. We were getting ready and one of the moms who was in the audience the night before knocks on the dressing room door. We let her in and she has the biggest bouquet of flowers I had ever seen. She walked right over  and handed them to me, with a hug and said “This is for what you went through yesterday. You were very….um…..brave” She chucked me under the chin and left at which point everyone else in the dressing room fell to the floor laughing.

I never forgot that kindness, or the line “chicagos11belowandtheforecastissnowinchiacgo”. I never forgot that I can’t sing. I still have one of the flowers from the bouquet pressed into my theater days scrap book. We all have our strengths but our weakness do not have to make us weak. How’s that for deep? Now where’s my bouquet?

(c) sparklingbytheway