Most of us have it, some of us overcome it, but mine, it’s conditional.
I never know when my stage fright is going to strike me. It could be in class when I’m in the middle of discussing Alice in Wonderland with my philosophy professor (true story), it could attack midsentence when I’m talking to an attractive man-friend (happens more often than not), but in truth, I never know when my conditional stage fright is going to hit and I live in constant fear of the clammy palms, stuttering words and total mental befuddlement that is associated with it.
Side note: I think I’ve mentioned clammy palms in every one of my installments thus far. Curiouser and curiouser…
Stage fright affects everyone differently and in my case I lose all control of my lower
extremities. Now, now, don’t go getting any weird ideas about me kicking people and performing strange acrobatics without my mental consent, what happens is that my calves and ankles begin to quiver and shake uncontrollably.
I live in the dorms, you can’t tell, but I shuddered when I wrote that, and there happens to be a lovely baby grand piano on the bottom floor of my dorm. I have a keyboard in my room, but anyone who plays piano knows that nothing can beat the feeling and resonance of a real piano under your fingers. Because of this I often venture down to my beloved Oscar at odd hours of the day to play in peace. If you’re wondering, yes I did name the piano. Oscar is a magnificent name.
But I don’t always get the peace I so crave.
I was so lost in my music one day that I failed to notice a large group of men walking into the room where Oscar lives until they had already listened to me play for a bit. One of them coughed and with a loud and eloquently put “AGGGHHHHHHH…uhhh ermm hello there” I turned in my seat and was faced with four massive men. I mean MASSIVE.
They just stared at me with toothy grins plastered on their faces. I stared back with the creeping dread associated with a Mexican standoff. I had to shove back the overwhelming urge to say,
“This piano ain’t big enough for the two of us, pilgrim.”
Am I mixing up my movie quotes? Meh, whatever.
Finally one of them spoke
“C’mon play us something!”
At that moment I think I died a bit. Just a bit.
Stricken with fear and very conscious of the “deer in the headlights” look plastered on my face I mumbled to myself, “Holy poop call the Pope this can’t be happening.”
There was no delicate way to extract myself from this situation so I did what I had to do: I played.
Thirty seconds into Ludivico Einaudi’s “Nuvole Bianche” I felt a tremor in my pedal leg. A chill washed over my body.
Me: “Holy poopers holy poopers this is not going to happen. That was just…a twitch. Yeah a twitch.”
I was wrong.
Within seconds both of my skinny legs were shaking uncontrollably as I tried desperately to finish the song with some dignity intact. Rushing through the last few measures I finally finished and looked down at my epileptic legs, cursing them for all they were worth.
If the massive gentlemen that so graciously listened to me play noticed my lower extremity seizure, they didn’t say. They were all very polite about the whole thing, clapping, shaking my sweaty hand and leaving in a massively muscled group of testosterone.
As soon as they left I collapsed back into my chair and hit my head on the keys with a loud and dissonant THUNK cursing my strange affliction.
If any of you have strange, interesting, befuddling or downright hilarious stories of woe and stage fright, I’d love to read them and know I’m not alone.
Until next time my lovely readers. Tallyho!