Wednesday, June 16, 2010

for a piece of silver lining

In Syracuse this weekend, for the encore tour of our cabaret . . . such as it was.

Surreal apocalypse Americana is as good a place as any to take a step off the hamster wheel. We had midnight BBQ with a bunch of bikers, gawked at the prices of candy and cigarettes, and performed in a theatre not twenty yards from a giant pro-life billboard. On a street corner that would later boast a catfight between a bunch of hysterical preteen bitches and one very ill-prepared minivan cabbie. So that was exciting.

We played to sold-out crowds both nights, which would have been a major boon for morale had not our pipsqueak small-minded manchild of a director taken it upon himself to give me a "note" five minutes after we closed. About my lack of coming timing.

Now this vain little queen knows really nothing about theatre. He delights, however, in the spotlight. In the time it took to get through cue-to-cue, we could have teched all five acts of Hamlet. But no. He wanted to sit there with his headset and clip light, snapping his stubby fingers at us and assigning specials at varying intensities to the silk flower display on the piano. He'd chirp, "Freeeeeze!" when a simple "hold" would have done. And, during the run, he'd breeze through the theatre reeking of skunk weed, claiming credit for writing and "devising" a show which had been a collaborative effort (until he booby-checked his way into the equation). His pedantic low-blow of a parting gift was, I'm sure, a nod to the original tiff we had last month, when he more or less told me I had no stage presence.

Once again, I am the kid who runs right up and wallops her face against the sliding glass, mistaking it for an open door. Show business is a confidence game and I'll always be the lost little girl with popsicle stained fingers rubbing her goose egg and staring dreamily through the panes. Unless I pull my head out of my lily white Irish arse—but quick.

Marian Seldes said, "I am not afraid on the stage. I am afraid in life." And the dame knows her stuff. Sometimes I find it so hard to reconcile my lack of ambition with the high of being onstage, the umbilical tether to an appreciative crowd, the loss of all fear under lights. I know how to read an audience. No one gets to make me doubt that. Not anymore. And certainly not this particular pea-brained jerk-off. I'm just plain smarter than he is—and he knows it.

Despite that swift kick to the girl nads, it was an honor to be up there with two such dazzlingly talented women and our red-hot pianist/musical director. This gig got easier and more enjoyable every time (once I tuned out the reptile and actually performed). I found myself increasingly less terrified of using a microphone and, you know, singing in front of people in general.

And the omnipresent loneliness? I made a good showing up there, I did. I would have thought I was done for with that first final click of the hotel room lock, but then I unpacked, rearranged all the miniature shampoo bottles on the bathroom counter, and savored that good old hotel-grade anonymity and 'alone.' There, behind paper thin walls and an industrial deadbolt, you can be anyone. The charade and the fantasy are yours to construct.

Inevitably, I settled on myself. This was my first hotel room as a single adult. The lady minus a plus one. The woman who sleeps alone. And I found it comforting. I found myself comforted by the chlorinated clean of bath towels neatly folded, the vacuum swatch of stain repelling carpet, the hum of the wall unit AC, the ceiling unit bathroom vent, the ice machine down the hall. Even the sounds of other toilets flushing, other doors clicking open and slamming shut, the ghost elevator to the lobby—these noises are the texture of travel and I come to love them. Even when my favorite gays go to their room down the hall and I am left to the quiet.

Girl's just gotta learn to make her own noise is all . . .


Kathleen said...

Just smile and say "thank you" when you gets those pesky notes from those pesky egotists. They'll never know you know.
I love hotel rooms when they are my own.

Scarlet-O said...

oh GF who are you really and what do you do??? i know that experience i had it a year ago when i was doing this show too.... the hotel thing...