Monday, February 5, 2024

There is a Theme

Sunday was gloriously bright and sunny, but it was a cool morning walk with the big dog walking group. Everyone was in very good spirits because of the weather, and I loved every second of it. I walked for a while with an interesting and jovial fellow who, as we talked, mentioned living in Finland. 

“What took you there?” I asked him. He went there due to winning a Fulbright Scholarship. Using Google, I discovered his amazing talent and recognition for his knowledge of mathematics. It was wonderfully interesting, talking with him.

I lived with a conundrum. I really enjoyed doing my shows. I have been putting on shows since I was five years old. However, these are the three worst experiences of my life.

One: I was a teenager when I went to see Raveen. He was a hypnotist who put on shows. My friends and I went downtown on the bus to the Orpheum Theatre on Granville Street. This was a big deal. But it turned dreadful when people came into the isles to choose people to hypnotize, and one chose me.

When all the chosen assembled onstage, I did what I was told. After something he asked us all to do, most of the people onstage went back to their seats. I remained onstage, and I was terrified because he supposedly hypnotized us, but I wasn’t hypnotized. I had to fake it. Thhis wasn’t the worst of it though.

There was an intermission. When he announced it, as part of his act, he gave all of us instructions to follow during the intermission, so I had to fake being hypnotized with my friends. And everyone wanted to interact with me; they’d ‘play’ with me as per the instructions they’d received from Raveen.

I remember standing in the aisle with my eyes closed, bobbing my head slowly back and forth and feeling like I was on fire. It was the worst experience I’d ever had in my life. All those people coming at me.

Two: I knew that there was going to be a party, but I had no idea that there would be so many people. I felt okay the entire time. It was all my friends, but I was fine. But then I was called into the living room and seated on a chair. (My heart started pumping when I wrote that sentence. That’s how horribly intense the experience was.)

All my friends crowded around, and they presented me with an envelope that contained a return trip to France. This became the worst experience of my life because it was so incredibly physically painful, and I let everyone down because I did not behave at all like someone grateful, and happy. 

If you could see the video, you’d see an expression of tense neutrality. I struggled to maintain my composure. Through the entire video, my hands are on the back of my head. What isn’t visible, is that I am massaging my head. The back of my head felt like it would explode. I was in excruciating pain, and it was all because everyone was looking at me. I did not like being the centre of attention. That’s when I learned that about myself.

Three: Same as number one. I was at Cirque du Soleil when I was selected from the audience to be part of an interactive magician skit. I knew everything that was going to happen. I’d already seen the show. So, as with Raveen, I have to fake being surprised at all he is going to do to me.

The fellow who selected me, a clown, had a firm grip on my wrist. I tried to resist. But he was in character and not taking No for an answer. Plus, the spotlight was on us. I knew there were 2,600 people in there, and that meant 5,200 eyes.

These are the worst moments of my life. But doing my biographical show, with music, was a highlight of my life. As was doing gigs at The Flame, a public story telling forum. The difference, it seems to me, is that in my shows, I am in control … of the script, the set, the performance. It’s me telling my story.

As I said in my monologue: “I absolutely sucked at acting.” There was nothing I wanted to do more, but I had no talent. I had no confidence. It was a very sad day when I learned how poor I was onstage. But I like being me onstage. I also, for decades, read only non-fiction. Truth is a primary tenet of the Church of Science. (Once secure in my faith, I became part of a fiction loving chapter of the church.)

During elementary school, every August, I would go down to Woodward’s at Park Royal mall, and I’d find Mrs. Banks. She would help me choose my clothes and my ‘mother’ would pay with her credit card, over the phone. On my first visit, Mrs. Banks asked me what I wanted to wear, and I told her: “I want to be invisible.”

When I passed an entrance exam for the federal civil servants, I was put on the ‘menu.’ The menu was an inventory of people passing the exam that was circulated to all the ministries to use for new-hires, so our profiles included our ambitions as well as our qualifications and experience. The interviewer asked me what kind of job I wanted, I said something like this: “I want to be an essential but invisible assistant to a minister or deputy minister.”

There is a theme.

My next session with Dr. S. will be my last session, for now or forever. That word ‘neglect,’ has hit hard. I want to live with that for a while. Let my psyche settle with that word, because it was the word that made me feel what happened to me. Fuck. At 76.

They say when you die, your life flashes before you. I’m getting flashes already. 

Oh oh. 

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