Monday, February 6, 2012

Searching for those wasted years.

Yesterday I drove up to Vancouver to watch the superbowl at a friend's house. I haven't cared about football since the Bears won the superbowl in '86, but I jumped at the chance to hang out with my work friends outside of work.  There were six kids there, total, but you never would have guessed it.  The youngest were sleeping, the girls were playing in J's bedroom and H, the oldest boy, was watching the game with us. We had a great time, despite the fact that football is boring as all get out. I don't even remember who played and which team won.

At one point, my friend's son (who is 12) said he wanted to work in radio, and I remembered how when we were kids, my parents gave me and my sister a tape recorder and we would spend hours and hours making up fake radio programs and news broadcasts. One time we had our friends' older brother be a reporter at the scene of a potential mass-suicide.  We sat up on the top bunk of our bunk beds and while he was reporting, we would scream and jump off the bed, landing loudly. We were so twisted! Heehee.  Sometimes we would read stuff out of magazines, but mostly we made shit up right on the spot. One time I made up a distraught character who kept calling into the radio station looking for his friend, Dave. "Is Dave there? He said I could call him here! Dave? DAVE?!" and then I broke down sobbing.

I still have the tapes around somewhere.  There's one from who knows when. I think Sis and I were probably five or six at the time, but I remember it vividly. It was nighttime and we were in our old station wagon driving home from Dispensa's Kiddie Kingdom. Sis and I had both either won or bought these little worms that came in a little plastic suitcase. I have no idea why we wanted them, but we REALLY wanted them.  We named them Wormy and Squirmy, and on the way home, I turned on our tape recorder and made up a song about them. I sound like a dog's squeaky toy. Were we ever so young?

Anyway, it just got me thinking about all the things I could have done if I'd believed in myself. In fourth grade, I would do standup on the bus ride home every afternoon. I had one fan. Her name was Beth. In sixth grade, I was (unofficially) voted Class Clown. When I was 13, my grandma took me, my sister and our parents on a Disney cruise to the Bahamas. It was a present for making our confirmation at church.  When we got down to Florida and boarded the ship, we stood around in the lobby for what seemed like hours.  Alan Thicke was there, wearing dark sunglasses and trying to look inconspicuous. My mom had gone off to find the restrooms and when she came back she accidentally hip-checked Mr. Thicke.  When she got back over to us, we were like, "Mom, you just bumped into Alan Thicke!" and she was all, "Who? So what?" Heehee.

It was while we were standing around in the lobby that a man approached our parents and asked if he could use me and my sister for a commercial they were filming. Everybody loves twins, I guess.  Our parents said yes, so we were taken outside with a bunch of strangers and Disney mascots and were filmed walking across the bridge and into the ship about five dozen times (embellishment). It was so fucking boring.  But they shot the commercial and it's out there somewhere.

Before I moved out to Oregon, I'd tracked down a high school friend and we reconnected via online chatting. She and her husband had their own comedy troupe in Chicago, and she said she'd actually been looking for me because she wanted me to join up with them. I was shocked. I never did join, but I helped them write a couple sketches, and I went to one of their shows before I skipped town and headed West.

I think if not for the crippling social anxiety and lack of focus, I probably could have gone into radio or maybe could have written for TV or something. My sister and I have always been good with voices; imitating people, doing accents, etc. When I was editor of my high school lit mag, we all stayed late one afternoon to work on compiling that year's issue, and me and two of the other girls ended up wandering the empty halls. Looking for something, I forget what.  The girls were in drama and were complaining about how they couldn't get their accents right for the play they were putting on. I broke into a New York accent and started yelling, "Norman! Answer the door! Someone's at the door!" and the two girls stopped and were like, "Holy shit! How did you do that??"  I was all, "What? It's not hard."  To this day, 95% of my and my sister's dialog is made up of Kids in the Hall quotes and lots and lots of movies. I still know every word of "The Goonies" by heart.

My sister says I'm a great mimic. I don't see it, but she says it's uncanny.  A few months ago I caught an episode of the Cleveland Show and thought it was hysterical. I had no idea there was a Cleveland Show, so I found my sister and told her about the episode.  The thing is, I did the entire thing in each characters' voice and twice as fast.  I was hurrying because I wanted to get to the end where Cleveland's son says, "Don't tell me to shut up, banana slammer," which is what made me piss myself laughing in the first place. If you asked me to do it again, I probably couldn't. Spur of the moment is a lot easier than on the spot, and I get performance anxiety when I'm asked to repeat myself. If not for that, I probably could have been something.  I coulda been a contender, instead of a bum. Which is what I am.

I need to get back into writing. Not that I don't love you, blogosphere, but it's not the same.  The first short story I ever wrote, I wrote in pen, in a notebook, the night before I started college. Nothing like making insomnia work for you!  The first and only time in my life that I ever got straight A's is when I took Lit classes at the community college. My professor was the first teacher in the nation who had Stephen King novels in his curriculum.  That's why I took the class; it was a study in horror and we covered Stephen King, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, and someone else whose name eludes me. NOT DEAN KOONTZ. He fucking SUUUUCKS and I remember being relieved we weren't going to have to read his drivel. At any rate, I was always the first one done when we were assigned essays or when we had tests. I wrote a paper about a Stephen King novel, I think it was the Dark Tower, and my professor handed it back to me (with a big read A++++) and on the last page he had written, "If I had 30 more students like you, I would forget about early retirement."  He read a lot of my writing and was impressed enough to say he expected to see me on Letterman someday, promoting my first novel. That blew my mind.

Yeah. I really need to get back into writing. I have to get my computer fixed first. Argh.  Ok. Time for bed.

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