Today, my radio reminded me of one of the most excruciating moments of my life.
In 6th grade, my grammar school put on a talent show and I was desperate to display one of my many talents for the entirety of K thru 8. Not having the balls to perform a solo act, (although I actually considered something along the lines of singing “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Mis), I desperately hoped the cool girls would include me in their choreographed dance routine. In my 6th grade class of 28 uniformed 12 year olds, Nikki ruled the place and didn’t let anyone forget it. And when she decided that a group of girls should perform to Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up”, she failed to include me in her line-up.
Still desperate for any part of the action, I agreed to pretend to play a giant Yamaha keyboard on stage left during their act.
I spent hours rehearsing with them, lending my skilled dance moves to their crappy routine. I, after all, had been taking tap dance for 7 years and can still time-step circles around those bitches.
The day of the big talent show finally came and the entire school of 200 kids piled into the gym. Those performing were instructed to sit on the floor at the foot of the stage until it was their turn. I sat with Nikki and her crew, watching the 6th, 7th and 8th grade boys select their seats in the back rows.
And there was Andrew Michaels, THE stud of St. Pat’s. His 8th grade yearbook quote was “I might have a one track mind but at least it’s on the right track.”
I loved him deeply.
And in that moment, before the show had even started, I suddenly realized it. Pretending to play this stupid keyboard on my lap while much cooler and more popular skanks rocked the stage was quite possibly the worst single decision of my 12 years. Shaking, I sat through 5 or 6 dreadful displays of magic tricks and cartwheels.
And then they called our names.
I could barely bring myself to stand, slowly following my “friends” on stage while a teacher laboriously set up my keyboard stand off to the side. The music started, I took my place behind my Yamaha.
And I pretended to play.
As if this 3 minutes of pre-teen hell couldn’t get any worse, there’s a part of the song where some man backs up Paula with a deep voiced, “Straight up, now tell me.” At this point in the dance routine, Nikki was to stylishly point to me and I was to mouth the words.
The MAN’S words.
It was profoundly horrible, compounded by the fact that when I finally forced myself to look up at our audience, there was Andrew Michaels in the last row, doubled over in laughter.
The song ended, Nikki and her minions took dramatic bows, and I kinda bent myself over my keyboard. I then had to pick it up, and exit the stage behind everyone else.
To this day, whenever I hear that crappy song on the radio, I cringe and say a little prayer that Nikki is currently bussing tables at Denny’s…