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Please Don't Run Screaming
When princesses in Disney movies sing, cute little animals come running from every corner of the earth to listen, hearts melt, Prince Charmings fall madly in love, and evil is vanquished forever. What could possibly be better? At five years old, I lived in California (the long lost land of the princesses), wore pink dresses every day, and aspired to become one of those very Disney princess one day, preferably one with blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale, beautiful skin (I had a lot of plastic surgery coming for me in the future, though I think I’d make a pretty snazzy-looking female Michael Jackson). I figured I had what it took to be a Disney princess: five years old, slightly ditzy, good at dancing in my underwear, etc.
Yet I had a single, fatal flaw.
You see, when I sang, anyone and anything with ears and a good pair of legs ran for their lives in the opposite direction, hearts turned stone cold, and the boy across the street threw rocks. Hard. What could possibly be worse?
To this day I cannot carry a tune to save my life. I’ve been compared to dying frogs, dying crows, dying _______ (fill in the blank), pretty much anything that’s dying and making a horrendous, croaking, raspy death-rattle-type sound.
So of course my mother decided that signing me up to sing in the choir for the local Swing St. Louis Christmas play would be a fantastic idea. Thank you, mother, if you truly loved me you would have shot me in the head before I had to crawl onstage and croak out “White Christmas” and “Silent Night” in front of five-hundred people (OK, OK, it wasn’t that much, but it sure felt like it).
Needless to say, considering I’m writing this blog, I survived the Big Night, but only barely. The sheer stress of the experience probably shortened my lifespan by a good decade, but at least I learned a few invaluable life lessons along the way.
How to put on mascara without gouging my eye out.
I’m not much of a makeup sort of girl, and the fact that my mom and I spent forty-five minutes French-braiding my hair and applying layer after layer of foundation, powder, blush, etc., seemed like a national crime in my mind, ranking somewhere along the Holocaust and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I figure if you don’t like my face then you have to deal with it.
BUT, if you’ve been on Stage of Life for a while, you’ll notice I’ve changed my profile pic. The current profile pic you can see (the one of the slightly loopy looking gal in the fabulous silver frame) is actually me with all my stage makeup on (which is why I actually look good for once; I figured I might as well actually use the picture since it took forty-five darn minutes to get to that point). Add to that picture blood-red lipstick, super heavy eye makeup, and a horrendous red tie and hat and you have Keilah performing “White Christmas” for Swing St. Louis. It was painful to say the least.
No, literally, it was physically painful, because I stabbed myself in the eye with the mascara brush and it was bloodshot for another hour or two. Keilah Tip Numero Uno: When you put on mascara, you align the fuzzy thingies with your lashes, you don’t use the TIP because it HURTS (Did that make sense? This is for all you guys out that who are still playing with your mama’s makeup but don’t want to admit it.)
How to lip-sync without giving myself away.
As I said, I can’t sing to save my life, so actually sing-singing was out of the question (obviously). My brothers told me I should just keep saying “watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon” over and over and over again . . . but what if everyone else hit a really long note and the whole choir had their mouths hanging open and catching flies while I’m over in the corner going, “WATERMELON WATERMELON WATERMELON WATERMELON?” Yeah, that would fly really well with the director.
So if you’re lip-syncing, just memorize the dang words to the song so you can lip-say them and then take big gasping breaths every now and then so it sounds like you’re actually singing. ;)
How to tell when someone is lying to me.
I stood next to a girl for all three shows and after each show she told me how great I sounded. I never told her that I wasn’t actually singing the whole time. I tried to convince myself that she was actually telepathic and was reading my mind-singing, but for some reason my brain just wasn’t buying it.
She made it worse by telling me I looked great too. Um . . . thankful. If I look as great as I “sound,” then we need to get the Keilah Translator out.
Statement: You look great.
Translation: You looked like you dunked your head in a toilet . . . that hadn’t been flushed . . . after a three-hundred pound gorilla ate a dump-truck load of bananas . . . and had really green, really chunky diarrhea (yes, I realize “chunky” and “diarrhea” don’t always go together).
How to survive ten hours in a tiny back-stage hallway crammed with thirty girls and three guys.
Maybe I should call this “how three guys survived in a tiny-backstage hallway with thirty girls for ten hours.” What is that? A ten to one ratio of girls to guys? I’m surprised the dudes didn’t explode from too much estrogen-exposure.
Ultimately, we lay on the floor and talked. And talked. And talked. Until our tongues dried out and fell out of our mouths and we got them all mixed up and ended up all going home with different tongues. It was French-kissing in the extreme. (Just kidding. I hope we would have at least made the local news if our tongues actually fell out. But we did talk. A lot.)
At one point we were so bored one of the guys started reciting the entire Princess Bride movie from memory. Either he has photographic memory in his ears (meaning he can memorize anything he hears) or he has way too much time on his hands and I want his life.
By the end of the night our hallway looked like someone had dropped a bomb full of junk food and portable card games all over the floor and then the Magic Fairy of Makeup had decided to stockpile her annual mascara, eye shadow, and blush supply on the tables. It was the definition of Disaster embodied as a room. And then squeezed into all the cracks were thirty girls and three guys lolling on the floor and popping Skittles like a pro pops pills.
. . .
All in all, I don’t want to diss acting and singing and theater. I actually had the time of my life that night. The girls were awesome, we had a ton of fun, and even the Princess-Bride reciting guy wasn’t that weird. True, I was ready to head home after ten hours (ten hours of anything is too long . . . unless it’s sleep), but I’d definitely do it again, especially now that I’ve got Keilah’s Life Lessons for the Stage together. And maybe next time, I’ll actually sing.
And maybe no one will run screaming.
Maybe. Hopefully. Probably not.