Monday, December 13, 2010

A Real Doll

I have never been part of a Christmas pageant, in case you are wondering.

I console myself with the knowledge that it would not have gone well. I would have undoubtedly eaten my bagful of “frankincense” Play-Doh or tried to play “Look in Butt” with Joseph at an inopportune moment.

The closest I came to pageantry was taking part in my elementary school’s annual holiday concert. I say “holiday” and not “Christmas” because even in the late ‘80s P.S. 282 was sensitive to its diverse audience. There was something for everyone: a lively Hannukah song for the Jews, an educational Kwanzaa song for Africans, a number of spirited numbers en espaƱol for the Hispanic population (as well as the totally not racist romp “Pablo the Reindeer”), and a whole crapload of call and response ditties honoring our rosy red deity, Santa.

One year our glee club teacher Mrs. Montgomery added a new song to our festive repertoire: a special almost-solo piece that would feature four girls acting (and singing!) as dolls. We would get to wear wigs and makeup, which sealed the deal for me, the littlest wannabe drag queen in Park Slope. I was over the moon when I was selected for the honor of singing John Rox's classic Christmas carol "Are My Ears On Straight?" I practiced at home in front of the mirror, perfect red circles drawn onto my cheeks with lipstick. And like Narcissus before me, I became so transfixed by my visage that I took my own breath away (granted, my breath-taking was less literal).

Basically the same thing.

Eventually, the big day arrived. The crowds gathered. And I completely chickened out. Stage fright got the best of me and I stayed home with a faked fever on the night of the performance. Of course, for absolutely no good reason, Fox 5 News covered the concert, so I had to watch my best friend Adri bask in what should have been (at least partially) my glory... on TV, larger than life.

There's no Christmas moral here, I just wanted to share. At least I got to keep the wig.


  1. Can you help me out and clarify which is which on the photo?

  2. Aww, you look just like little Samantha in her little cranberry colored Christmas dress. How adorable. I was and still am the biggest ham so chickening out isn't in my dictionary.

    I just listened to the song "Are my ears on Straight" and it's fricking creepy! I don't think you missed out on anything.

  3. You were much cuter than that doll, wait - you were the one on the left, right? ;) No seriously, I love your cheesy smile in that pic - you seem so proud.

  4. Could be worse, Una. I was Mary in our primary school Christmas play one year. Jesus started playing with his junk on stage so (if the rumours are to be believed) I hit him over the head repeatedly with baby Jesus. Should point out that baby Jesus was not a real baby. And so began (and ended) my illustrious career on stage.

  5. I like the idea that your parents had to know you were faking and that either
    a) they weren't going to push you further than you could go on that particular day
    b) they went along with it as a gigantic "live and learn" lesson
    Maybe you were that good of a faker also occurs to me, I wouldn't want you to think I'm diminishing your skill base.

  6. Is there an opportune time to play Look in Butt?

  7. EVERY time I see that picture of your unibrow and little fupa in purple sweats, I crack up. So damn adorable.

  8. Pageants are regretful. One year I was the Angel Gabriel and my father caught me on video camera reaching into my white gown to scratch my crotch (fixing my leotards actually...), at which point he zoomed in to see what was up...a memory that has been forever captured by the magic of technology...

  9. I love that picture of you.

  10. I only wish you had your pants pulled up a touch higher.

  11. Hold up! Are you serious? You're trying to tell me that I've already had my fifteen minutes? And I don't even remember? Geez! And my summarized memory of our elementary school shows amount to me never being picked for anything. I guess I can get over that now and settle into a memory of being an awesome understudy to the very talented chicken, Una?


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