I don’t even need to take my socks off to count the number of times I have sung in public. My parents have heard me sing twice. My ex-husband, zero times. My fiancee…actually, a few times. But those were mostly due to booze.
The first time my parents heard me was, of all places, at a basketball game when I was in high school. I tried out to sing the national anthem and got it. I have almost no further memory of rehearsing or actually doing the deed (the singing), likely because my anxiety has erased it from my mind.
My parents tell me they were in the stands at the game, and they had no idea what to expect. Their quiet, sullen teenage daughter was going to a) be at a basketball game with a large number of sports enthusiasts and b) sing. They did not know me to be the type that did either. They also did not tell anyone that I was their kid until after the anthem, at which point they say they were pretty proud of me.
They may have been placating me, I’ll never know for sure.
The second time I sang in public was when I decided to try out for the school choir variety show. I picked On the Steps of the Palace from Into the Woods, although I really wanted to do Agony, but I couldn’t find a partner. That was really too bad, I so wanted to be a prince.
I was raised on a tape of the original Into the Woods Broadway performance. And either or both versions of agony would have been easier than the song I actually picked. Leave it to me to choose a ridiculously complicated song sung by an awkward princess.
If you are not a musical aficionado and are not familiar with Sondheim, let me tell you, that shit is HARD. The musical accompaniment and the vocal melody seem as if they are two completely different pieces of music. Even our musical prodigy choir director who had his master’s degree at 24 years old (rest in peace, Mr. Greene) couldn’t sight-read the piano part and had to take it home and practice. Mr. Greene needed to practice approximately nothing, he was that good.
And yet, somehow, I don’t remember bombing that performance.
In the years since, I have done karaoke a couple of times, but only drunken Rocky Horror Picture Show at gay bars and an occasional duet of Oh Darling (Across the Universe version of The Beatles song) with Papa Bear when we were the only ones in the room on karaoke night at the bar we used to work at together.
Post high school, alcohol had to be involved to get me to open my mouth and sing. My fear of putting myself out there like that in front of people is so overwhelming and crippling it led to quite an incident the other night.
The other night something possessed me to sing in the shower. The selections were Fiona Apple’s Paper Bag and Adele’s Someone Like You. This was later in the evening, and although the bathroom is a good 20 feet away from the bedroom, even with Archer on, Papa Bear could hear me, as he mentioned when I returned to the room feeling sort of good about sounding decent in there.
The very second he told me that he had heard me, something snapped. I freaking lost it, and broke down into a gibbering, sobbing, inconsolable mess. I reacted the way I might if I found out there was a sloth in the house for my birthday party. If this makes no sense to you, let Kristen Bell, my new soul mate, show you.
As an aside, as soon as I saw this video, I knew that miss Bell understands me in a way few ever could. THIS IS MY LIFE, and only the handful of people in this world who know me completely have seen me in this state. And I am also more than a bit sloth obsessive.
At the time of the gibbering, I couldn’t have told you exactly why I reacted this way to someone hearing me sing in the shower. I know that I knew somewhere in my mind that someone hearing me was a possibility. After all, there were other people in the house.
Listen, I know I’m a neurotic, anxious mess. The older I get, the less effort I make to hide it, but also the more I notice that some people really really love me for it and even more people seem to absolutely hate my guts and want me dead. Or so is my impression, that may just be my reading of these situations. And as much as I want to say good riddance to the assholes that don’t get me and dislike me for reasons I may not know or understand (as Papa Bear tells me to do), I also think a lot of the time maybe it is me.
It seems like the older I get, the more easily I am utterly destroyed by cruel people, and these silly little incidents of jerkery by others. These little derailments and embarrassments big and small that most people would brush off and forget about right away, they stick with me. FOREVER. I still beat the hell out of myself mentally for a fight I had in the third grade with my best friend at the time – a friend I haven’t talked to since grade school. These things that others can let go…I don’t seem to have that capacity.
But you know, every time I meet someone who tells me that all of their exes are assholes, it brings to mind the sage old Dan Savage question: If all of your exes are assholes, what’s the common denominator? That’s right, you are.
Not that I’m saying my exes are awful, quite the opposite. I sort of pride myself on the fact that I have never gotten into a serious relationship with anyone that I do not still consider to be an awesome person, just not the right awesome person for forever, for me.
What I am saying is that I know a large amount of conflict and stress in my life is generated by me and the war that’s going on in my brain most of the time. And I just don’t know how to fix it. But you see, that is another project for this blog. I can fix a whole column of dropped stitches, I can fix a jacked up home haircut – I can fix a lot of things, but fixing myself is something at which I am a complete noob, to borrow gaming parlance.
I don’t know if a giant leap out of my comfort zone is a good idea, but maybe it is just what I need. And while it is way out of my happy place, the experiment would still be on my terms, with as many redos as necessary before anyone has a chance to judge me.
I think I might sing something. On video. On the internet. Oh my.
I don’t know what exactly, I don’t know when, but I’m going to start working on it. Maybe if it’s simple enough, I can even play the guitar. I have a modicum of ability with stringed instruments.
I need you to tell me, fellow social awkward, introverted friends, does this sound like the best idea ever, or the worst? Will I come out of this feeling like nothing can do anything to me:
Or like I want to crawl in a hole and die:
It could totally go either way. I’ll start practicing and think about it.