Saturday, March 22, 2008

Stage Fright

My stage fright knows no bounds.

In a most perverse way like much of the rest of my life, my talents such as they are, lie in the area of the performance arts. Before my ‘me-ness’ took control of this body, I was not a bad singer at all. Then somewhere in the process of growing up, I decided I would rather die than be on stage, and that was that. I forced myself on stage a few times after this malaise gripped me, hoping to conquer the fear and knowing that one good performance would do wonders for my confidence. These turned out to be occasions of such bitter failure and nightmarish shame that the fate of my singing on stage was sealed. Nowadays, if anyone were to ask me I just say I can’t sing. There’s no shame in that.

I thought, as did many others, that since I wasn’t bad with the written word, I would logically fare well in debate and recitation as well. But then again, though I conquered my fear of performing in public to the extent that I could be pushed onto the stage, gagging and willing myself not to throw up –when my turn came to speak, I would start shakily and then entirely forget what it was I was meant to say. The resounding silence of the auditorium would echo back at me, and I would open and close my mouth like a pop-eyed fish flopping about at the bottom of a boat.

Acting! By the time people had started suggesting acting to me, I had wised up to my condition, and lived my passion for it vicariously by helping out backstage as bouncer, makeup person, and general busybody.

But now that I’ve weeded out most things that inspire such terror (except trying on clothes in front of those ghastly lit mirrors in stores) I haven’t felt stage fright in a long, LONG while. (I’m a coward, but bravery is overrated anyway.)

Until yesterday that is. I went to the hospital for an abdomen scan. Apparently one needs to feel like one needs to go wee-wee, before they’ll do the scan thing on you (you need to feel the urge to go, but not go, of course.). People would keep coming at me and asking if my bladder was full, and despite the fact that I’d drunk an entire litre of water earlier on I could only shake my head miserably and whisper “not yet”. A little while later I tried to brazen it out and pretend that I needed to go. But the technician caught me out convincingly when he began the scan and sent me out with a flea in my ear, to sit and wait ‘For toilet to come to me’ in the waiting room.

An hour later and people were giving me the disappointed looks that teachers gave me in school when I walked off the stage after saying “Ladies and Gentlemen, the topic of debate for today is…is…excuse me I need to barf”. My husband, usually the most patient of souls, started looking quite distressed after one and a half hours of waiting for me “to get the urgency” as one of the staff described it. I felt like I was letting him down, the hospital technicians down, and most of all myself down. It was standing on stage all over again, I just couldn’t do it. ("feel the urgency", not do it).

I eventually got the scan done successfully, but that stage fright of mine made the simplest thing the hardest thing to do.


Suchismita said...

I know that feeling, and I completely understand why you needed to fib. I used to wonder if I was the only one whose "toilet did not come" even after all those glasses of horrible-tasting water (somehow hospitals always have very bad water) making me want to puke, but I am relieved I wasn't the only one. The bladder never fills up when it has to and the radiologist can always make out you've lied with one move of that whirring little machine. And that look on the nurse when you tell her it still hasn't "come"...groan !!

Funny how long they actually take to finish the USG once it does "come".

But why an ultrasound in the first place? Is everything alright?

epelayo said...

I know the feeling like dying in front of a public.Because I experienced it too and it really make me feel uneasy making my performance embarrassing.So to those person experiencing the same I would share this tip to overcome stage fright:
What it’s all about: It’s not enough to just practice a couple times and think that you know your performance or speech well enough. You need to know it so well that you can perform it under any conditions – that way you won’t have to worry about forgetting key parts or stumbling during a performance. The only way to know your performance that well is to practice, practice, and then practice some more

Haimanti said...

I KNOW!!! and the technician shooed me out too! GAWD!!!!

Haimanti said...

and by the way, who is this???? it's supposed to be a fun column??

Ushasi said...

Good to hear I'm not the only one, Suchismita and hai.

And epelayo...thanks for the tip. Maybe in another life.:)

Diya said...

pussycat! all women seem to have gone through this! :-) i attained another level of dumbness at my ultrasound. i drank so much water in order to expedite my biological processes that, before my turn came, i was almost dying of bloated bladder syndrome. i had to ring the doctor, who had to ring the nurse and yell at her to let me in straightaway before i exploded in front of them. duh. not fun!

Moon said...

Your stage fright reminds me of quite a few of our goof ups. Feels funny now but how disappointed we would be back then.
Your incident reminds me of Joey in Friends with a similar stage fright (If u like to watch Friends that is).