Regular readers will recall my mentioning that from my earliest times, the dream in my head was not to be a writer, but to be a performer. The difference between the two, in my mind, parallels the difference between being a barrister and being a solicitor in the British legal system.
One of them – I believe it’s the solicitor, but it could be the barrister – works with the client, and performs other legal services. But in the actual trial, it’s the barrister – though I may be wrong and it’s the solicitor – who presents the case to the court. In my fantasy, I wanted to be the second one. Whichever one that is.
I wanted to be “out there.” Why? I’d been “out there” in plays at camp, and I found the experience more exhilarating than anything I had ever experienced. (Though I tried hard to experience as little as possible, for fear of injury.) Plus, I was relatively good at performing, “relatively” meaning in the context of a Jewish summer camp in Northern Ontario, rather than, say, Broadway.
Also, my older brother was a performer, and I wanted to be like him. Not that I wanted to duplicate his approach. I didn’t. What I wanted was to be as good a “me” on stage and my brother was a “him.” Or maybe a little better.
(By the way, if you’re interested, there’s a feature article in September 16’s Rolling Stone about Lorne Michaels, in which my brother is mentioned and is presented photographically. The article errs in its chronology, thus distorting, in the minimalizing direction, my brother’s prominence in Mr. Michaels’ career advancement. Inaccurate stories whose facts I am personally aware of lead me to wonder about the accuracy of all stories.)
Anyway, I wanted to be “out there.” A performer, not a writer. (By the way Number Two, this is not the case for all writers. Many, including some of the very best writers I have known, harbor no performing aspirations whatsoever.)
What comes to mind here in the wonderful little movie called Gregory’s Girl, written and directed by Bill Forsyth, who also wrote and directed an even more wonderful, slightly larger movie called Local Hero. Both films are highly recommended. (So, see? I don’t hate everything.)
In Gregory’s Girl, an awkward and socially inept teenaged boy named Gregory has a mad crush a female classmate, who’s quite attractive and really gewd at football. (“Football” meaning soccer. And “gewd” meaning good. It‘s a Scottish movie.)
To make a full-length feature short, at the end of the movie, through the machinations of several gal pals working together, Gregory winds up on a date, not with the girl of his dreams, but a different girl. A girl whose always liked him, and to whom, it turns out, Gregory is more naturally suited.
Though not where he wanted to be, Gregory wound up more importantly, and presumably more rewardingly, where he was meant to be.
I’m tickled by such stories, where people discover they may not be the best judges of their own reality. Though I’m a little less tickled when the story’s about me.
I still want to be “up there.”
I was hoping I could show you a song clip from the Broadway show, Little Me, that would give you a tangible sense of what the “performing feeling” is all about. The only rendition I could find, however, is kind of cheesy. But even so, ignore the lyrics, and focus in on the exuberant, bouncy excitement the song conveys.
That’s what I’m talking about.
And that’s what I wish I’d experienced.