Kelli J Gavin
When you hang out with the theater crowd in high school, you soon learn all that it entails. House parties, discussions about literature I knew nothing about, appreciations of all things associated with Broadway Musicals, and lofty jokes which were usually only understood by a few. I was so pleased to immediately be pulled into their fold, that I didn’t ask questions or contribute to most conversations. I sat back and silently observed their conversations and shenanigans. I went home and even asked my mom what some references meant. She was dumbfounded and no help whatsoever.
I soon found that most of the people in theater never communicated in full sentences. There were inside jokes and more inside jokes and they never seemed to have any meaningful conversations. They talked a lot about funny things that had occured, on stage and off, and about hilarious things they had done together as a group. I found very little of it even remotely funny, and it sounded like a bunch of theater snobs picking on people and making fun of those were not granted access to the coveted enclave.
“Shut the front door!”
“Do you remember when we put that ‘paraphernalia’ on the bench!? Sooo funny!”
“My mom isn’t ever going to let me host another one of those parties. You guys trashed the living room with all your candy wrappers, pop cans and popcorn kernels!”
“Why does he always say, ‘ATTENTIONS LADIES AND GENTS!!!’ He sounds like a lunatic!”
But theater is what I loved, so I endured what I could, ignored most of it, and threw myself into each role. Whether it was my part as a chorus girl with big hair and an even bigger voice, and opera singer with a horned helmet, or the Mother Abbess, I made a plan to knock each performance out of the park. Not only would I memorize all the music and staging in record time, I would excel and make sure the directors took notice as to cast me in larger roles in the future.
Practices often ran late, additional practices were scheduled and I lost all semblance of a social life. I was spending all of my time at school, at play practice, doing homework and sleeping whenever I had the chance. I had a teacher approach me at the end of Chemistry class one afternoon. My brain was already focused on play practice and I was miffed that she was slowing me down.
“Kelli, my dear, we need to talk.” My chemistry teacher was short and round and had a mole the size of silver dollar on her right cheek. She also had a way of sounding very British when she was anything but.
“You are on my radar young lady. Your work is often turned in late or at the very last minute and you are barely sneaking by with a C-. I know you are busy these days, but might I suggest you concentrate a little more on your school work so that you do not risk re-taking this class.”
I gasp audibly. Re-take Chemistry. NO! I hated it. My artistic mind found it to be chore and a requirement rather than a joy to learn the periodic table. I couldn’t risk the chance of having to take it again. I took her words to heart, told her I would try harder and exited quickly.
I bolted to my locker and retrieved my backpack and jacket and everything I would need for the evening. I understood that practice would only run to 5 p.m., but 5 p.m. was too late. I needed to get home and change my clothes, eat dinner and buckle down. I had other homework to do also. But mostly, I was consumed with everything that I would need to do to complete missing assignments in Chemistry, memorize the periodic table once and for all, and raise my grade to something higher than a C-.
Practice went well and I wasn’t in every scene. I spent an hour completing assignments for Chemistry. By 5 p.m., it looked like things weren’t going to be wrapping up anytime soon. I finished my final scene of the day and approached the edge of the stage. I stood directly in front of the director who was sitting in center of the auditorium in the third row. I spoke up, “Would it be okay if I left for the day? I think all of my scenes have been completed. I have fallen behind in Chemistry and need to spend the evening playing catch up.”
The director stood, “Oh! The horror! Fallen behind in Chemistry! Whatever will you do?” She smirked and called for the next scene.
“You don’t have to make fun of me. I don’t want to fail. It is now 5:20 and I have hours of work ahead of me.” I was feeling bold.
“How is it possible that every person here seems to be able to balance school, homework and play practice? But please. If you are so behind and you don’t think you can do it all, feel free to leave for the evening.” The director shouted much more loudly than necessary as I was standing directly in front of her.
I was infuriated. Wasn’t I the one that always knew my lines and blocking and never made a mistake? Wasn’t I also the one who was always on time and helped whenever and wherever help was needed?
I went home. I not only finished all of my chemistry work, I memorized the periodic table. It was worth leaving and dealing with the scene that had occured.
Needless to say, I never had another one on one conversation with the director again. It was pointless.
I did however hear the words, “Oh! The horror!” yelled down the hallways of my high school for the next three years. Another inside joke I guess. Only funny to the people who saw what happened that night in the auditorium.
Kelli J Gavin lives in Carver, Minnesota with Josh, her husband of an obscene amount of years and they have two crazy kids. She is a Writer, Professional Organizer and owns Home & Life Organization and a small Jewelry Company. Look for Kelli’s first book of short stories and poems in 2019. You can find her work with The Ugly Writers, Sweatpants & Coffee, Writing In a Woman’s Voice, The Writers Newsletter, Writers Unite!, Academy of the Heart and Mind, The Rye Whiskey Review, Spillwords, Mercurial Stories, 121 Words, Hickory Stump, HerStry, Ariel Chart, The Basil O’Flaherty, PPP Ezine, Southwest Media, Otherwise Engaged, Pleather Skin, Paper.Li, The New Ink Review, among others.
Find Kelli on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @KelliJGavinBlog found at kellijgavin.blogspot.com