A Whiter Shade Of Pale

Love and Hate

This is the kind of post that really should be told in person. There are stories and then there are STORIES about moments in which my face turned a whiter shade of pale. Some of them are tales that I tell with great joy and gusto because age has given me the ability to engage in self deprecation. There is a real art to it and it is a useful skill that many have turned to their advantage.

But there are other tales that I do not tell because they still pierce the thick skin that I have developed. These are moments that are only examined in quiet solitude and spoken about in a hushed whisper because sometimes in the quiet of the moment…it burns.

It feels foolish to admit this and say that some things still hurt. I am not sure why. I can’t say if it is because I am male and I don’t think that I should admit such things or if there is something else that lies beneath the surface. So I sit here at the computer trying to decipher the mystery of the moment while simultaneously searching for the proper moment to make mention of.  I explore the dark corners of my mind and dust off the cabinets that contain the chaos of the past and dare myself to go deeper.

In person it would be easier because the words that were spoken would die off in hushed whisper and the echoes would be brief. These words on this page don’t disappear and the echoes continue to bounce off of the canyons of cyberspace for eternity or however long this blog and all that record its words shall last.

It brings us to the moment where I can no longer try to deftly weave my way through the woods. Questions have been asked and answers must be given so here you shall find a few words that you can do as you see fit with.

The year is 1982.I am 13 years-old and in a Hebrew school play. They have adapted South Pacific to tell the story of a Jewish holiday. It is the standard fare of they tried to kill us, they lost, we won, let’s eat. I have a big role, but it is not the lead. Two weeks or so before the  big opening the kid who does have the lead drops out and the director asks if anyone can step in and take over. I don’t think twice and offer my services.

I am not fazed by the idea of having to sing in front of the school and parents. The joy of being 13 is that I don’t ever consider the possibility that things could go badly. I never worry about my voice cracking at odd times and places.  I never wonder what I will do when the entire audience roars with laughter because my singing is funny to them.

Nor do I consider that many of the students go to junior high with me and that they will gleefully tell the tale of how Jack can’t sing…for all of the Spring semester. 

This was a post for The Red Dress Club about embarrassment. I wouldn’t call it my finest work, but writing requires practice and this serves that purpose.

If you are interested in reading past submissions you can find a list of them below:

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23 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Fifty Posts You Didn't Read On New Year's Eve

  2. TheJackB July 13, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    @bdorman264 Kids can be just peachy. I was never the cool kid nor the one who got picked upon, but I did experience the highs and lows of it all.

  3. bdorman264 July 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Wow, at least you did it; at 13 it would have been no way, Jose for me.

    However, kids can certainly be brutal and w/out tact which can cause some very painful memories.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. EricaAllison July 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    @TheJackB Apparently, I sing loudly and badly – my kids have asked me to stop on occasion, but that just fans the fires. 🙂

  5. TheJackB July 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    @galitbreen Yep, it sucks for lack of a better term to think that the kids will go through it, but they will. Hope you are having a good week.

  6. TheJackB July 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    @MimiMeredith I washed that queen right out of my hair. At the time I didn’t have a clue that South Pacific was anything other than a place. Somewhere there is a repository of the adaptations of these Broadway shows and movies. If I thought hard enough I could probably recite lines in English and Hebrew.

    You are right about how sharing these moments helps to build connections between people, It is one of those things that transcend the differences between people.

  7. TheJackB July 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    @hajraks 13 is such a hard age- amazing and awful all at the same time.

  8. TheJackB July 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    @Faryna That humanity is so important. It is part of what keeps us whole.

  9. TheJackB July 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    @therebelchick Funny how much we thought we knew and how naive we were.

  10. TheJackB July 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    @TLanceB Thanks. It was sort of fun to take a look back and see what once was.

  11. TheJackB July 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    @Lori Hi Lori,

    TRDC has been great fun. I don’t do every prompt but I do most. It is good practice and I always am interested in honing my skills as a writer.

  12. TheJackB July 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    @Lex My voice is much deeper these days than it was then so I suppose that I am probably better, but I am not really sure. What I know for certain is that I don’t care. To quote my grandfather, “I may not sing good, but I sing loud.” 😉

  13. TheJackB July 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    @abbyhasissues.com I have always been a contradiction. I can stand up and speak before a million people without a problem. But there are moments in a group of 10 where I am very self conscious.

    The audience was composed primarily of children and kids are cruel. I don’t think that most of them thought about whether it hurt me or not. Can’t remember if I complained about their lack of sensitivity because too much time has passed.

    The kids at the public school were much worse.

  14. galitbreen July 12, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Oh yes this! It makes me hurt my kids- they’re bound to feel this, too, someday aren’t they? Never mind don’t answer that.

    I loved {of course} the -they tried to kill us, they lost, we won, let’s eat.. 🙂

  15. columbiarose July 12, 2011 at 11:34 am

    E pur si muove. Sing.

  16. MimiMeredith July 12, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Oh my gosh…”They have adapted South Pacific to tell the story of a Jewish holiday.” Really? I would love to see that script!

    Isn’t it interesting how our bodies still recall physically the pain or emotional trauma we suffered decades ago? I wish I could fill in some of those inner cabinet shelves that house such moments…or better yet, clear the shelves and make space for memories of pure joy. But our minds don’t work like that. And sharing our common fears (having an audience laugh at us and not with us) and awkward moments somehow makes our human connection all the stronger.

  17. hajraks July 12, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I hated it when I was 13…. all nerdy and a book worm! But yes, the joy of being young again! Unmatched!

  18. Faryna July 12, 2011 at 9:04 am

    “It is the standard fare of they tried to kill us, they lost, we won, let’s eat.”

    Love that phrase! It’s so wonderfully human.

  19. therebelchick July 12, 2011 at 6:32 am

    I miss being young and naive! You’ve captured that well!

  20. TLanceB July 12, 2011 at 4:47 am

    hilariously painful

  21. Lori July 12, 2011 at 4:13 am

    ” The joy of being 13 is that I don’t ever consider the possibility that things could go badly.” I love this! I wanna be 13 again!!!!

    The Red Dress Club looks like fun! I was once active on Ryze and there was a poetry contest – describe a sunset in under 200 words, something like that. I enjoyed the challenge. I wish I had more time for this – maybe later 🙂

    Have a good one!

    Lori

  22. abbyhasissues.com July 12, 2011 at 3:45 am

    “I never wonder what I will do when the entire audience roars with laughter because my singing is funny to them.”

    I love your innocence and hope you never lost that confidence in yourself or at least held onto the fact that even if you consider the possibility that things could go badly, you still give them a shot. The reaction of that audience disgusts me, as at least you took a chance. You weren’t on that stage to be judged, but rather to tell a story of importance, of struggle, of value. They missed that and instead injected their own bias.

    Although it probably sucked at the time, today you proved you came out on top. Great post.

  23. Lex July 12, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Ouch! That sounds quite painful. It’s kinda funny that this week the embarrassing stuff is supposed to <i>be</i> funny. It’s turning out to be more sad. I think maybe because we’ve all been there & the raw hurt from those days hits us again.

    Do you sing better now? Even if you don’t, my husband can’t sing for nothing! His favorite made up lyric is “chicken & french fries” which he inserts into every song. My kids adore his singing! Even though it’s just really, really bad. 🙂

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