When I was in fourth grade, my elementary school’s music teacher woke up ambitious one day and decided that she was going to direct a musical for the drama club to produce. I can’t remember what it was called—something to do with the three little pigs and Rodney Dangerfield.
At any rate, I was cast as part of the ensemble, which, contrary to my prima donna ways, was actually perfect for me; as long as I was going to crash and burn, I’d rather have an ensemble go down with me.
We worked for several months on our production, during which rehearsals I was completely out of it. I had no clue what was going on, and that’s the truth. I sang our songs when the music teacher instructed us to do so, and that was about it.
It’s no surprise, then, that on opening night, I was suddenly gripped with paralysing fear, realizing I didn’t know when I was supposed to go on stage, where I was supposed to stand, or even my own character’s name [that was because my character didn’t have a name—I was just one of a crowd].
It was my first experience with stage fright. I reckon people are affected in different ways when they are faced with a bout of stage fright. Some people might freeze in the spotlight; others perhaps sweat profusely or tremble uncontrollably. Me? I learned on opening night that when I am nervous about participating in a production, I feel like I have to pee. It’s imaginary, though—ghost pee.
Being the first time in my young life I actually felt nervous in front of people, I was quite unprepared for the sudden…urge. I knew I’d just gone moments before, but for some inexplicable reason I felt like I would burst if I didn’t get my little bladder to a toilet, and fast. I was just turning to make a hasty escape, when the curtains rose to the pre-recorded opening fanfare. I was trapped.
Luckily once we got into our opening number, the discomfort fled me and I was whole again. Pee-free, if you will. On the next night, I once again felt nervous before the show, and once again was faced with my unique manifestation of my inner stage fright. Soon I diagnosed my disease: sudden instant bladder infection any time I feel nervous in a public manner. For example, if I was anxious about passing a spelling test that only my teacher saw, I would only be nervous; no pee. But if I was upset about performing a solo in a piano recital in front of all the world…pee feeling. The need to pee only occurs when there’s a very real possibility that I will make a fool of myself.
I assumed I would eventually grow out of the stage fright-conditional UTI, but it’s never happened. At age 17, in my senior year [Grade 12 Canadians], amidst a bout of what I now consider complete idiocy, I signed up to be a contestant in a pageant. You know, a pageant: talent, interview, the whole nine yards. There were four or five portions of the pageant—dance and excersise included [horrors!]—and right before each segment…you guessed it. Automatic pee feeling.
And now, years later, it’s no different at all. At church on Sunday, during the few minutes before I was required to accompany the choir for a whole slew of Christmas songs we’ve been practicing since Thanksgiving, I was not surprised in the least to feel the pee come on once again. Ignoring it under the assumption that it would go away like usual, I rose to the piano bench at the appointed hour. And, sitting down, I began the first strains of the opening number, and was focusing so intently on not screwing up, I must have forgotten to control my basic bodily functions…
…and peed myself.
Okay, not really. That would have been horribly embarrassing, on account of having to share the piano bench with a few other unfortunate accompanists during the course of the program. It would have made a good blog post, though, which is why I’m even bothering to tell you this story at all.
I didn’t piddle on the piano bench [a blessing indeed], and I made it through the Christmas program without any major incident. Directly afterward, Poor Kyle and I packed our bags and flipped Canada the bird—back to Arizona where it’s a balmy 65 degrees and nobody’s ever heard of temperatures in the negative.
Last week was truly horrific, but we pushed through and got all the hard things over with, culminating with my most trying trial—the Christmas program at church. But it’s done, and I’m free, and I feel like I’ve finally lost the 50 pounds I’ve put on since my wedding last year. What a relief.
For the first time in months, I actually feel like Christmas might not be so bad after all.
I wish you all the same feeling of relief as me—this must be what they mean by “Peace on Earth, good will toward men.”