The EGOTist On: My First Stage Horror
What follows is a story of dragons, human sacrifice, and one terrified 4 year old. Of how theatre taught me the most important lesson of all: find out what they’re asking for before you volunteer.
On a sunny (I can’t remember the day so we’ll say it was Tuesday and assume it was sunny. For the sake of the narrative).
On a sunny Tuesday, Mrs. Krishnan’s PM kindergarten class and the rest of the kids in the elementary school bustled into the cafegymnatorium for a special performance. There would be no classes today; there was a special performance.
One Baby EGOTist was very excited. I loved when there was a special performance! It was like a school movie day but with real life people. I sat cross-legged on the linoleum floor with the rest of my class watching the storytellers onstage in their colorful costumes.
“We need three volunteers,” they said.
Everywhere little hands shot up. I stretched my hand as far as I could reach but they picked three big kids instead. I huffed and dropped my hand back to my lap. Bummer.
“Once upon a time,” the storytellers said, “there was a dragon who loved to eat children.”
I listened transfixed as the storytellers described the monster eating each of the volunteers by name. Like they were a real part of the story. Then the dragon appeared: a long costume, long enough to fit over the heads of the three devoured children. Now they really were part of the story! Trapped in the belly of the evil dragon.
“We need one more volunteer,” one storyteller said as the other made adjustments to the dragon costume.
My hand shot up like a bullet. He pointed. Right to me. I vaulted up onto the tiny stage. I was in.
The storyteller leaned over me, “You’ll hold the tail.”
I nodded solemnly. Obviously this was a very important part of the story for them to need one last volunteer. He placed the brightly colored tail in my hands and as soon as I had a solid grip the dragon took off. I did my ultra important tail carrying when I made a single mistake. I looked behind me.
Now when I call the stage in our cafegymnatorium tiny I mean it was just big enough for the four of us to run in a tight circle. So what do I see when I turn around but the gaping mouth of the ravenous beast himself.
My tiny heart stopped. This beast staring me down already ate three kids. Three big kids. Like 5th graders! Nothing would stop him from eating me next.
Immediately I dropped its tail and sprinted offstage to safety. The entire audience exploded into laughter as I pressed against the wall catching my breath. I didn’t care. I wasn’t being eaten and I’d live long enough to go home and watch cartoons.
My Grandma refuses to let me forget that (she still cracks up about it).
What’s one childhood experience that has stuck with you into adulthood?