I went to Fray Day 6 tonight at a theater in North Hollywood. I popped two Advil (is the plural of Advil Advils or Advil?) before I walked out the door. Doing so was preferable to the alternative: Me, hunched over in my seat at the theater, rocking back and forth with my arms wrapped around my midsection, trying to stifle the whimpers.
I realized about 15 minutes later, somewhere on Beverly Glen near Mulholland, that the Advil had kicked in. Also, that I really shouldn’t be driving. The sun seemed Way. Too. Bright. I was spacing out, daydreaming, listening to the radio which sounded Way. Too. Loud. I put my sunglasses on, then took them off when they only seemed to make the sun pulse more brightly at the corner of my eye where the glasses didn’t reach.
I parked at the theater, which is located next to a store named “Bob the Printer.” You go, Bob. I will certainly frequent your fine establishment if I have need in the future. At the front of the theater, a small knot of people was gathered. Fellow Fray-goers? No, a group of people gathered for a play called “Holy Ghosts.”
So I went in through the front door, and down a hallway to a dingy lobby that features friendly people (thanks, Lance, Marti and Ignacio, for making me feel welcome. I hope I did not misspell your names) and warm chocolate chip cookies. I appreciate both, since I am apparently early. I am a little drowsy from the Advil, but I am intrigued, ready for a new experience.
It’s fun. Lots of people talk about lots of different things; telling our stories, making each other laugh or remember things in our own lives that seem to be related. Then it’s my turn, and I’m nervous, because I haven’t read anything I’ve written out loud since high school, and that was a book report so it doesn’t really count. I settle on a rickety stool that feels unsteady, like me. I picture it tipping over and spilling me onto the floor, where I lie mangled in the glow of the spotlight. I wonder if the “tripping and falling in public” fear ever goes away. I turn my eyes to the page I have brought with me, then flick my gaze up toward the audience and begin reading.
I can hear my voice shaking. I wonder if everyone can hear it, or if it’s like the seemingly cacophonous noises made while chewing celery, which usually reach only the chewer’s ears.. My hands are shaking as they hold the piece of paper. Still, I am enjoying myself, and I wish I’d given some thought to this, to actually preparing so I’d feel comfortable, so I could relax and pace around the stage or ad-lib or look more at the audience and less at the paper.
But I do it. And someone tells me it was great, at the end, as I am slipping out the door because I am awkward, spaced-out on Advil of all things and not quite myself. I smile and make brief eye contact. I do not know what to say. I am tired and thinking of sleep. My social skills have deserted me, so I say “Thanks” and walk out the door.