Let's keep this story train rollin'.
When I was in high school, I was incredibly shy and awkward. Somehow I worked up the nerve to audition for the yearly musical which the arts departments staged together. This was the whole reason I'd attended this school instead of another: I'd been really interested on acting, but never had the guts to try.
I didn't get a part.
I tried again next year, this time with more success. I snagged a lead part - Jacob, Joseph's father, with the dreamcoat - with just a five-measure solo, but I didn't care, because I was doing what I'd wanted to. Offstage, I was still an awkward misfit, even with the other stage kids, but onstage i knew the right words to say and exactly what to do with myself.
A week before the play was set to premiere, the stage manager and director (one of the drama teachers, someone we all respected) broke down and cried. She blamed herself, she said, for not being a better leader. We weren't professionals, so we couldn't be expected to pull through in the clinch like one. We had all been having too much fun and not practicing enough. Unless things turned around, we would have to cancel production. We were collectively heartbroken.
We had already been practicing most days after school, but for the final stretch we went all out, sacrificing our lunch hours and weekends to spend every free minute rehearsing. After the dress rehearsal, the manager broke down again, but this time for a different reason. I still remember how happy she looked.
But the icing on the cake happened at the wrap party, after an entirely sold out run. Someone had spiked the punch - I think one of the music teachers - and we were all having a great time. The stage manager appeared, moving quickly through the crowd with a box of party favours and a jumble of balloons. She handed one to me, pointing at it and smiling before disappearing back into the crowd. Mystified, I pulled the balloon down and looked it over closely. She had written a message on it in Sharpie. It read:
"to Karl - thanks to your hard work, you were the best Jacob anyone could ask for. I'm so proud of you."
I still have that balloon, somewhere.
What do you remember with a fond smile, SE?