I have always been awkward, my feet never went where my brain said they should go, and I couldn't hold a tune either. So, school for me was a struggle, because if you wanted to do extra stuff you had to be athletic or you could sing. I could do neither. Let's remember this is a small school in the 1960's in a small Mennonite town. So I faked it. In choir they asked me to "only move my lips" because my singing was confusing the rest of them and put them off tune. I probably should not have sung so LOUD. But of course I wanted to be noticed. So, in order to stay in choir I moved my lips...but I could sing anything in a very low range...and I joined in on that. I called myself an "Alto." heh....I was a dumb fuck. Seriously.
The cheer leading gig was short lived, and it only lasted one season, but I really did have a good time. We travelled to all the surrounding towns and cheered our team on. But the next year I couldn't even try out, because I had let my grades plummet. It was all about boys....my parents wanted me to get a decent education and insisted I study...and study...and I just mooned over boys and movie stars. I blame it all on James Darren who starred in the movie Gidget. He got my teenie bopper hormones blazing... oh yeah and Troy Donahue!
I am the one on the end on the top picture and the one in the background on the second one. Siss Boom Bah!
So I switched over to public speaking....anything to get attention.. The school had a "Speech Arts Festival" where kids from town and the surrounding districts would complete. I was in there like a dirty shirt. I participated two years in a row. We had to recite poetry. The first year I chose "If" by Rudyard Kipling. Now it is clear to me that I had no concept of this poem at 15 years of age. I did not get this poem. You need life experience to get this poem. That. did. not. stop.me. Most of the poem were only words to me...and dramatics I could apply to it when I thought they needed applying.... I started out dramatically:
If ... by Rudyard Kipling (I screamed out IF so loud it shook the rafters in the auditorium).
If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies, Or, being hated, don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
.... I had no idea what Rudyard was talking about.... I was making little heart notes in my diary about my latest crush as I was memorizing this poem. Hey there were lies and hating..I got that part of it.... and to emphasize the words I would put a scowl on my face and viciously form the words and spit them out at the audience. One of my finest moments.
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with triumph and disaster And treat those two imposter's just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, And stoop and build 'em up with worn out tools;
...This all seemed very noble to me, and I started to respect this guy, but then I think I got lost with the twisting of knaves and the trapping of the fools. Nor could I fathom watching the things you gave your life to broken, and stooping to build them up with worn out tools. Tools, what kind of tools? A hammer? huh...
If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breath a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
...This means a lot to me now...then it was just words I was supposed to speak. And I spoke them with a lot of energy....when I yelled HOLD ON the entire audience jumped up. I think I shook my finger at them too to emphasize the fact that they should indeed HOLD ON. I'm amazed I didn't shout out "hold on and back up the truck Jake."
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run - Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
...This too was lost on me, I never got the...with sixty seconds' worth of distance run shit..but I really liked the end... Here I brought down the tone of my voice by about 100 octaves and whispered "You'll be a Man my son" with so much drama, you could have heard a pin drop. With that I blew the audience a kiss and made my exit. I was pretty sure I was going to win because ... people clapped at the end. Now I realize they were just so thankful it was over. It seems I was even a dumber fuck than I remember.
The Adjudicator who gave me my marks for my poem....prefaced her remarks by saying that I had done a good job of memorizing the poem, but apparently I was unclear of the entire concept of the poem. In the future I might tone down the dramatics and attempt a poem more within my grasp. Huh...whaaaat you say? I had just given the performance of my lifetime, and she had the nerve to say I didn't get the poem? I was devastated, until my mom assured me that I did indeed do a very good job of memorizing it which a lot of the other kids had trouble with. With that I took third prize with much pride and made plans for next year. (note:there were only 4 contestants in this category). The forth one must have really stunk the place up.