I’m not paralyzed in front of crowds. It took me a while to find the right word for that. ‘I’m not paralyzed’ does not mean I‘m not shy or afraid or embarrassed; nor does it mean I am impossible to humiliate, or unable to suffer debilitating self hatred and doubt; it just means that those things do not stop me from raising my hand to get up in front of a large audience. In fact, sometimes I think I am drawn to it in much the same way a person who is afraid of heights is drawn to the edge of a cliff. I don’t know where this comes from: part of it is insecurity, part of it is big balls/shoulder chip, and another part of it is a desperate need to please. All things that, taken alone, should cause shame, but when joined together cause its opposite: Go Deird! Raise that hand! Prove yourself! This manner of thinking applies to being on stage: acting, or giving a talk or dancing in Las Vegas. Talent is a plus but not really a necessity. Nowhere is this truer than in a karaoke bar in New Orleans. And yes I did raise my hand there, though I have to say the best part of that experience was when it was over (Funky Town seems like a good song at first but then 20 seconds in you realize it's too repetitive). But when the Karaoke isn’t in a bar and when your 11-year-old son is with you, the whole game changes.
We went to Little Tokyo on Saturday for Darla’s birthday and while she and ten other 14 year olds safely ate sushi inside a restaurant, Harry and I walked around the little outdoor mall area. We stared at the groups of teens dressed like zombie killers from Resident Evil and odd little animals with kitten ears and bushy tails. We noticed families and tourists and people eating meat on a stick. They were all gathered around a little platform where an old Italian guy in sweat pants was singing opera. And they were cheering!
Omg Karaoke! I said and took a step at exactly the same time I felt Har clamp his hand around my arm.
Just one song!
Go into a store. Pretend you don’t know me.
He didn’t say anything. He just stared at me with such intensity I know he was trying to make my head explode into flames.
Can I just look at the songbook?
In an instant his look shifted to one of desperate and anguished pleading, his eyes were about to well up with tears.
So we sat and watched. There wasn’t a bad singer in the entire show. I mean everyone was superior. There was a girl that walked out of a restaurant picking her teeth with a toothpick who said to her boyfriend, Oh I want to do one, and then she belted out What's goin On by 4 non blondes like it was nothing. Outside! In a mini mall!
I looked at Harry like you were right, I would have been an epic failure. He could have said I told you so, and knocked me down a few pegs but he didn't, he just said, You can come back after I graduate from college and move to India.