Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I Was a Teenaged Christmas Tree
I am not a Christmas person. I am not sure why. Perhaps it was too, too many years of working retail and having the joy of the season sucked out of me by listening to Elvis on Muzak one too many times. Looking back, it began a long time before that. The very first Christmas that started getting on my nerves was in 1975. I was a senior in high school.
Long before "Glee", I was a "Gleek" - a dancing (not so good), singing (a little better) choir nerd. Little did we know it, but we were THE cutting edge on the whole show choir thing. They didn't have a name for this type of choir then, so we went by "swing choir", but I assure you we were fan-freakin'-tastic. Our official name was "The Modernaires", shortened to "Mods" (How cool were we?). Christmas was a busy time of year for the Mods. We entertained civic group after civic group throughout the Mid-West. If your group wanted us, they had better book us early. I have very little doubt that we set the standard for the show choir craze that now blazes across the nation. The highlight of our year was when we entertained at the Kiwanis Club and they gave EACH of us one of the best damn apples we'd ever had. Yup, we were THAT good!
One year the group did a tune from the musical "Mame" called "We Need a Little Christmas". Big damn dork that I was, I knew my sixties musicals backwards and forwards. To this day, if you need the lyrics to a sixties' musical, I am your girl. (Not surprisingly, I found this to be a completely under appreciated talent in adulthood. Go figure.) In case you spend the sixties listening to stuff like "The Doors" and "Rolling Stones", and completely missed the dazzling musicals of the period (For shame!), I shall provide a brief summary: In the musical, the song "We Need a Little Christmas" occurs sans tree, and instead a person (Agnes Gooch -- Mame's secretary) is decorated. It is one of the highlights of the play. Wishing to share my vast cultural knowledge with the rest of the Mods, I suggested we incorporate this into our own version. Guess who was tapped to portray a tree? Seriously, I am six feet tall -- who the hell else WOULD they have asked?
Of course, I was brilliant. The Mods wrapped garland around me, hung baubles and lights from my lofty boughs, and I daresay, the highlight of the show was when the Christmas lights blinking. It brought down the house. Many an actor is familiar with the acting school exercise of portraying a tree, but few are asked to actually BE A TREE in front of a live audience -- past the fourth grade, any way.
Despite some moron Modernaire consistently hanging ornaments on my ears which really itched, it was a fairly positive experience, but oddly coincides with the year I started hating the holidays. I have wracked my brain trying to find a psychological connection between the two, but have so far been unsuccessful. I do remember it being the year my distaste of the holidays began, as one of my band geek friends bought me a button that said "Bah Humbug". Still, I cannot quite connect the dots. Hopefully by exploring "Christmas Past" this season I can get to the bottom of this disdain.
Stay tuned for my fascinating (ENDLESS) tenure as THE Angel of Annunciation.