Tuesday after work started like most Tuesdays after work do – dinner and the dramatic announcement of “I think this is my last sketch writing class.”. “Yes, I’ll give myself this last class and then I will plan to be home before 10pm from here on out!” My friends never grow tired of this pronouncement and by “never” I mean “always”, because it’s usually followed by a small “I’m the worst sketch writer” pity party with balloons shaped like sad little animals as I recount why what I’m saying is 100% gospel. Their protests to make me see reason are now printed on a colorful flyer so they don’t have to repeat themselves one more exhausting time. I wear them thin on Tuesday The flyers help lessen the need for eye rolling this way. (As you can see, I’m making tremendous strides towards my resolution to work on my self-esteem. You can see that, right?)
Well, I come by my lack of faith in my writing quite honestly. On that very first day of class a couple of months back, I was traumatized when I discovered that I was the only person who wasn’t born with a pen in their hand. As we went around the room establishing our writing creds, everyone seemed to be a serious writer and I, on the other hand, could only offer up “I blog!!” There was smiling, that patient kind you give when faced with someone who is severely mentally deficient that you don’t want to discourage. “Umm, I can also sign some really filthy things in ASL,” but I suppose that’s not writing or anything to really brag about – it’s more a neat pet trick to horrify a friend who does sign. As an educator, she’s quite proud that “this was all that Beth learned.” The only other person who wasn’t a writer was an accomplished fashion photographer, so that left me without a peer and signing quietly to myself.
So, Tuesday evening arrives and I’ve got my first parody sketch prepared and ready for feedback. I wander into the inner calm place in my mind that says, “you can survive the next three hours and as a reward you never have to come back.” YAY! Half an hour into class and I manage to never raise my hand to read anything of mine, because it’s a bit like raising my hand to gargle glass or poke my eye out with a stick. Why would I do that? My friend Morgan strolls in. Morgan is the reason I took sketch writing in the first place; she has a way of making things seem cool. You may remember her from the story about the obnoxiously expensive purse that could feed a third world country. I think, “how sad I won’t see Morgan after this evening, but we still have email.” I’ve positioned myself so I can see the clock clearly. I watch it closely as it ticks down my final hours in class. I make it two hours without volunteering to read my first parody. (Aside: Yes, rationally I know sketch writing is new for me and I’m doing something I’ve never done before, but I want to be the best. Blame my upbringing. Waiting on my brain to understand the fundamentals gets in the way of kudos, awards and a ribbon that says “Best Girl”. I want the bloody ribbon.)
Then the time comes where there are only two parodies left to read. A game of rock, paper, scissors is called to determine who will read next. I can see that Morgan is going to throw “rock” by the way she’s holding her hand in the 1-2-3 lead-up and I immediately throw “paper”, because I like to win. Then I realize, “you threw paper!!! IDIOT! What were you thinking?!?!”
I had to cast my sketch, “I’d like you to play the part of Clara, I’d like you to be my narrator, and…” Once the roles are cast, I immediately proceed to shake as my words are read. I don’t like being a squirrely, twitchy person, but as you know, my writing being read out loud does this to me every time. It’s much worse if I have to read it. I watch everyone’s reactions to see how it’s playing out and to my delight they seem to be laughing. Whew, they get the jokes. I can tell when each one realizes what I’m parodying.
When it’s over, I throw my notebook down on my lap and prepare for the feedback on how to make it better. I can conceal my trembling easier on my lap than I can on the table.
Morgan turns around and looks at me and says something like, “Beth, that was great. I have nothing.” Well, she likes me personally. She’s my friend. Did I mention that purse? So, I wait for someone else and that’s Jason, whose writing I admire greatly (in my next life I’d like to be as funny as he is). Jason adds, “I’ve also got nothing and I’d like you to submit this to the Etch-a-Sketch showcase I host on Fridays.” I don’t know any actors and shyly stammer that out. Jason responds, “I’d be glad to play a part.” That’s when the rest of the class chimes in, “me, too!”
The only real suggestion for a change I receive is, “maybe change the mummy’s name from Amenhotep to Tut – it’s easier to say.” (I may have killed my narrator with the number of times he had to say “Amenhotep” until our teacher finally gave him some relief by suggesting, “go ahead and say ‘the mummy’ instead”. Part of the fun of that sketch for me was forcing someone to say “Amenhotep” repeatedly. I’m a simple soul.)
I left class giddy and aglow. Their approval and willingness to play parts in my sketch was almost as a great as a “Best Girl” ribbon. So, tonight my sketch parody will appear in the theater’s sketch showcase and will star my super supportive classmates.
I guess I can’t quit until next Tuesday.