Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Ah, But We Were Young and Earnest
Tonight I found myself watching Madonna’s television special. I must admit that Madge/Esther puts on a damn fine stage show. But did anyone see the equestrian themed opening number with the not-a-bit-subtle sadomasochistic overtones? Because it brought back memories of college. And no, I don’t mean the ball-gag.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I went to college at a small liberal arts school in the mountains of Massachusetts. The school was filled with young artistic discontents looking for some spectacular way to express their frustrations. Unfortunately, this often culminated in the annual dance show. (Stop guessing – you can’t possibly imagine how bad it’s going to be.)
My sophomore year, a friend of mine decided to produce a mixed media/performance art/dance piece to comment on the destruction caused by modern industrial society. As this “friend” happened to be a cute guy I had a crush on, I agreed to be one of the dancers. (This was my scrawny, troubled artist phase which came in between my juvenile-delinquent-with- a-muscle-car phase and my looks-like-he-just-got-out-of-rehab phase. Yeah, I’ve always had such quality taste in men.) The piece was set to Bauhaus and some other unidentifiable Goth rock noise. There was a screen hanging over the stage on which photos of roadkill were projected. And the dancers? Why we were roadkill, too. In one portion of the dance, I was one leg of a squirrel. ONE LEG OF A DYING SQUIRREL. TWITCHING. IN ITS DEATH THROES. Oh, I almost forgot. There was a strobe light to make the whole thing that much more meaningful.
I think the highlight of it all was my complete breakdown during the performance. During dress rehearsals, the slide show had not been available and the strobe light wasn’t activated. Big mistake. At a crucially meaningful moment of the piece, this squirrel leg looked up and saw the actual black-and-white photos of roadkill flashing above. It was at that moment that I realized the utter absurdity of the whole fiasco. And I started laughing. And I couldn’t stop,
Thus ended my scrawny artist phase. (Although he did ask me to perform the piece again for an encore performance which just got me laughing all over again.)
I'm a little disturbed that the fact that you played a twitching leg of a dying squirrel sort of makes my day. This story reminded me of (The Importance of Being Earnest, yes, and also) that scene in "She's All That" (Lord help me) where Freddie Prince Jr. does the abstract hacky-sack monologue. Too funny.