Most of the regrets I have from my childhood come from a place of fear. I was too scared to lift the bat off my shoulders in Little League, so I struck out. I was too afraid to be myself around the girls I liked, so I struck out. That type of thing.
When I was in high school, I auditioned for the All South Jersey Chorus, which is just about as prestigious as it sounds. But it meant a lot to me. And I thought I had a pretty good chance to get in. I had the house to myself the night before, and had belted out the required song in a way that made my cat not run away in terror. And, y'know, like Sinatra sang, "If you can sing out loud and the cat's ears ain't bleeding, you can make it anywhere!"
But the day of the audition came and I completely choked. To prevent favoritism, the judges were sitting behind a chalkboard so they couldn't see if we were a member of a school in their district. I'm pretty sure they called it a Blind Judge Audition because I remember thinking, while I was halfway through my song, that they probably would have preferred it if it were a Deaf Judge Audition.
I was very funny and clever when I was in high school.
But, really, I sounded awful. I was so nervous, so terrified. My voice cracked on the very first note and it just got worse from there. It seemed to go on forever, and all I wanted was to be put out of my misery... I'd had better Saturdays is what I'm trying to tell you.
I should say that I got over it eventually. It's not like the moment had scarred me permanently. But it really did bother me quite a bit. And, yeah... I guess it still does a little. I mean, I love sports, but I was never going to be a great athlete. I've always been a hopeless romantic, but I was terribly geeky as a kid.
But, dammit! I knew I could sing better than that! I'd heard myself the night before and I was actually pretty good! Seriously! I was there! I sounded alright!!! It wasn't a fluke, I had simply let my fear overtake me. And that really is a difficult thing to live with, whether you're talking about the All South Jersey Chorus or the Broadway stage.
Fast forward just a few short (short) years later to the present day... I fell in love with a girl who broke up with me, and I'm heartbroken. What's worse? I'm a diehard Mets fan. So it's clear to me at this point in my life that love and baseball were not going to be the cure for my sorrows.
I was flipping through the TV one day last month, however, and I saw... a challenge. Simon Cowell was producing a new show called X-Factor. It was going to be similar to American Idol except it was open to just about everyone. Groups, and everybody else, ages 12 and up. And! The auditions were going to be close by...
This was it! This was not only what I needed to get myself off my ass, but this was also my chance to stand up and reclaim whatever dignity I'd lost all those (not that many, really) years ago!
The winner of this show is getting $5 million, but I didn't have any delusions of grandeur about that. I just wanted to do my best. Step up to the plate and take my shot. Take a swing, take a chance and see what happened.
So, the next day, I put in for some vacation days and I prepared myself to go to the city of a million dreams. The city of hope, the city of light, the city of promises fulfilled... the city of Newark, New Jersey.
The five things I fell in love with today...
1) South Jersey!!!
2) Surviving humiliation. And it was humiliating. There was a woman in between me and the judges who was playing the background music to the song I was singing. I'd been so dreadful that, apparently, the judges were making faces at my expense. Every time this woman kept looking over to them she had to restrain herself from laughing at whatever the hell it was they were doing from behind that blackboard. Those bastards.
3) Surviving high school in general, really.
4) I did get a hit once in Little League... once. And it was a fluke, but I stood on first base with pride nonetheless... Well, no, it was more shock than pride, but, whatever.
5) Frank Sinatra.
Song of the night...
"There goes the fear" by Doves. This is a really good post-breakup album to listen to; it's called "The Last Broadcast." Also an excellent First day of Spring album. Makes me happy.
Movie of the night...
"(500) Days of Summer" A great post-breakup film to watch. Particularly, for me, this breakup. Lot of similarities there. I'm such a Tom.