As some of you might have heard, I went to an audition for Listen to Your Mother yesterday in our nation’s capital. Listen To Your Mother is a show that will be performed in 39 U.S. cities this year. At each show, 10-12 writers—handpicked by the show’s directors—will go up to the microphone and read their 5-minute stories about motherhood before a live audience.
I am not a public speaker, ya’ll. In fact, even something as simple as saying Grace at a holiday dinner in front of my closest friends and family gives me heart palpitations. Just THINKING about it gives me nervous poops. You’re welcome for that sensory explosion.
Nevertheless, my friend Jessica at Welcome to the Bundle has always been super supportive of my writing, and she was a part of the show last year so she INSISTED that I audition. (This is all your fault, Jess). She even told me what piece to read and gave me suggestions on how to make it more, I dunno, READABLE. So one night I drank too much wine, and went ahead and signed up for an audition, which ended up being February 8, in DC, at 3:00PM. Now we’re all caught up, so on to the train wreck.
I knew it would take an hour to drive to DC from my home in the suburban jungle, so I left an hour and a half early. I was not going to take the chance of being late, because along with my anxiety about public speaking, I have a shit-my-pants fear of being late. TO ANYTHING. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 26,000 times – this fear comes from a childhood of showing up late to any and all functions. Imagine a record-scratching, head-turning, grand entrance of a parading caravan containing two adults and six kids: The Family Circus. I’m sure that was because my mom had 6 bodies to get ready to go everywhere, and I get that, but the phobia remains! This Mama don’t like to be late; let’s just leave it at that.
I made great time to DC, arrived at 2:20PM, found the right building, and set myself to the task of finding parking. I still had plenty of time to “put my face on,” as my Grandma Brown would say. Translation: I had no makeup on because I was sure I’d have plenty of time to do it in the car. (You should know, going somewhere without makeup for me is like strolling down a crowded street in nothing but a G-string and pasties. I DON’T DO THAT, and it is as much about protecting the eyeballs of the people beholding me as it is about my own vanity). Speaking of crowded streets, it was unfortunately a BEAUTIFUL, balmy day, so every single person in the District of Columbia and its surrounding areas, as well as, you know, tour bus-loads of peeps from Bangladesh and Ohio, were walking around with their left thumbs up their asses, taking pictures with their right hands. Every street parking space was taken, so I tried the umpteen million parking garages, but all of them were closed on Sundays. The clock was ticking, and by this time, it was 2:40PM. My palms were sweating, and so were my pits. I was starting to shake and tremble like a Dorito-addict who hasn’t had her fix in 24 hours. I realized I had a print-out of an e-mail with me, sent from the directors, and it had listed several parking garages that were open on Sundays. Like a dumbass, I hadn’t taken the time to punch these addresses into my phone, and now I couldn’t even stop my car long enough to do it!
The time was now 2:43PM, and after nearly hitting a man crossing the street in a wheelchair, who justifiably punched the hood of my car and correctly called me a “dumb fuck,” I found a fire hydrant to sidle up next to while I looked up the first parking garage on the list. I pulled into what I thought was the right parking garage at 2:46PM, and THE BITCH WAS CLOSED! Now I was panting, shaking, sweating, and I had to pee. I stayed at the gated parking entrance long enough to find the Madison Loews Hotel on the list – that HAD to be open! Punched in the address, screeched out of the parking entrance and bottomed out the car with a loud SCRAPE.
It was 2:50PM when I pulled into the Madison Loews parking garage. I was holding back tears because I thought I’d have to park the car and find my way out of the garage, but the nice man there told me it was VALET. I almost kissed him. On the mouth. With tongue. I leaped out of the car with my water bottle, purse, and keys, grabbed the ticket out of his hands and started running awkwardly in my rarely worn high heeled shoes. Thirty seconds later, the nice valet man nearly tackled me from behind and told me HE NEEDED MY KEYS. I threw them to him, apologized, and took off again – just one more block to go, and it was 2:54! I was going to make it! No. No, I wasn’t. Because I’D LEFT MY STORY IN THE CAR, along with the copies I was supposed to bring for the directors and my signed application form.
I almost crumpled to the sidewalk. The valet guy was probably still parking my car in the bowels of the garage, and I’d have no choice but to wait till he got back, and then naturally ask him to escort me BACK to the bowels so I could get my stuff, and that would take forFLIPPINGever. WhatdoIdo, whatdoIdo, whatdoIdo? Accept being late and look like an IDIOT or get there on time without my stuff and look like an IDIOT? I went with the first one. I remembered I had a number I was supposed to call so that the directors could buzz me into the secure building. I called the number, and in my About To Cry voice, I told the man on the other end about my mistake, and that I was probably going to be 10 minutes late, and was that ok?
“Of course! No worries!” he said cheerfully. (How can he be cheerful at a time like this)?
I ripped off my heels because my feet were starting to blister, and I started running down the city sidewalks barefoot, trying to avoid patches that looked like dried puke, and made it back to the garage by 3:00PM. The valet hadn’t even moved my car yet! SWEET JESUS, I AM GONNA FRENCH HIM NOW! But there wasn’t really time for that. I grabbed my keys and ignored him looking at me like I’d just escaped from maximum security prison, took my papers out of the front seat, threw my keys at him again, and bolted away. It was 3:02PM.
I ran for a block and a half, and my destination came into my line of vision, but I remembered with a jolt that I had no makeup on. No wonder the guy looked at me like an escaped prisoner; prisoners aren’t allowed to wear makeup. I ripped into my cosmetics bag and started applying mascara with no mirror AS I WALKED. To finish the job, I slapped on some lipstick, and hoped and prayed that my face didn’t look like this poor bastard’s.
I got there, miraculously, at 3:06PM. ONLY SIX MINUTES LATE! I was sweating profusely, I couldn’t breathe, my nose was runny, I was thirsty, I had to pee and poop, my feet were throbbing, and I looked like a bag lady who’d robbed the Maybelline aisle at Walgreens. Now I was supposed to read a 5-minute story to two very nice strangers who were there to evaluate my ability to tell a good story without sweating, peeing, pooping, or blowing snot rockets on the audience.
How did I do? I won’t truly know for sure until February 21st but I got through it, at least. I went over my 5 minutes of allotted time because of all the sniffling, and I was seeing spots by the end, due to the lack of oxygen, but do you know what they said to me?
“You are just such a pretty and put-together person, who looks all WASPY, like she grew up on the East Coast to wealthy parents, and spent her childhood taking horseback lessons or swimming at the country club!”
The moral of this story, folks? Looks can be deceiving. Ya can’t judge a book by its cover. (Also, make sure you find an open parking garage AHEAD OF TIME if you are ever going to an important, nerve-wracking audition in Washington DC on a Sunday. Also, do your makeup at home. Also, say no to drugs). The End.
*Update: It wasn’t The End. It was The Beginning! I made it, ya’ll! The show was on May 3rd, 2015, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. Here’s the link to the video – you can see my performance here! You can also plainly see how nervous I was, yet there was no on-stage pooping. Yay, me. 😉