Have you ever convinced yourself that an upcoming event was one thing, and it turned out to be something entirely different? Have you ever convinced yourself of this so thoroughly, that you were completely flabbergasted when you realize how wrong you were? Last week, I had one of those moments when my wife and I attended a concert at our local community center. I had somehow led myself to believe that we were going to see a Christmas concert being given by active-duty choir members of the Armed Services. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Turns out this particular show was performed by a senior citizens theater group. It was designed to be a salute to the military, along with some Christmas songs from the ’40s and ’50s thrown in as well. The minimum age for this ensemble was 50, but most of these folks were waaaay past that age requirement. This troupe of geriatric entertainers fumbled their way through various song and dance numbers, in addition to what I will generously call comedy. For the most part, these folks couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. Although, there were actually a couple of ladies who weren’t half bad.
However, after tackling a yard-full of leaves, all I could think of was the well-earned nap I was missing out on. At intermission, my wife and I debated hitting the road, but we decided to stick it out. This resulted in sitting through Act Two. Thankfully, this included a Christmas sing-a-long. Five carols that were straight out of the red hymn book at church. These songs were guaranteed to make any secular snowflake run for cover. It was nice to hear them being sung by such a large audience. My wife and I joined in as well.
Then the moment came when I suddenly became very self-conscious. To be honest, I had been dozing off during most of the show. However, towards the end, the cast members asked for veterans in the audience to stand up when their service branch was mentioned. When the Marines were called, I immediately thought of my Dad and felt a pang of guilt. I became ashamed of how I was acting. It finally hit me that most of these folks were veterans, and they were actually enjoying the show.
I also felt a little ashamed because of my lack of empathy for the entertainers. I suddenly remembered that performing onstage, in front of a large audience, is one of the most terrifying experiences you can have. Back in the day, I was in a couple of plays in junior high and high school. These productions had me acting in front of a theater full of students, family, and friends. So, I understand the intestinal fortitude it takes to get up there in front of a large crowd.
That said, I wish these elder thespians well in their future performances. I would tell them to break a leg, but at their age, it may be more of a curse than a gesture of good luck. All I know for sure is that I will skip next year’s performance, and take that nap instead.
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