This weekend I had a gig with BroadBand, my a cappella group. We performed at Celebrate Newton, a craft fair at one of our town's high schools. We sang a mix of songs: some jazz standards, some pop tunes, a bunch of holiday music. It was a hoot.
I was more or less the person who organized the performance on behalf of the group; but truth be told, I didn't do much to drum up an audience. Still, it was a community event, and I figured I was bound to run into a bunch of people I knew. I wondered, in particular, if I would see my Alexander Technique teacher. I studied with her for a few months three or four years ago, and she was wonderful, and I learned a ton. My posture, sadly, still leaves much to be desired. But should Lauren happen to pass by, I was determined to be on my very best, most well-aligned behavior.
So as we launch into our first song, I think about my Alexander instructions: I release my neck so I can tilt the crown of my head forward and up. I let my back be wide and strong. I relax my shoulders. And as I do, I feel my bra straps slip right down my arms.
One is not supposed to tug on one's undergarments in public, especially not on stage. But perhaps there is some subtle gesture I could make that would subtly coax my bra back into place....a shrug? A shoulder scratch?
I try these things. They do not work. My lingerie is inching south. Just how opaque, I wonder, is this white shirt I'm wearing?
No sooner do I start to lose my lingerie when I begin to notice tons of people I know milling around the room. Friends from my synagogue! Fellow parents from my kids' elementary, middle and high school years! The Health Professional With Whom I Had a Bad Experience!
It is very distracting, to have one's bra sliding towards one's belly button while one is trying to perform. I miss an entrance. I come in early on another one. But hey, I am just part of the chorus. Who is going to notice, really, either my vocal missteps or my wardrobe problems?
But then it is time to step forward for my solo. And maybe, just maybe, I am about to go full-on Janet Jackson:
Laurie, you are thinking, your situation has nothing in common with Janet Jackson at the Superbowl! Hundreds of millions of people across the globe were watching her live, close-up, on television, paying rapt attention to her every move. Meanwhile, in the cafeteria of Newton South High School, maybe fifteen people are half-listening to our chorus as they browse cutting boards made out of burled maple. Janet was executing sexy, intricate dance moves while wearing a fabulous, tight-fitting bustier and high heels. I am trying to sway a little so I don't look stiff as a board, while wearing a frumpy button-down business blouse and sensible shoes.
All true. But let me just point out the following:
Janet Jackson was wearing black pants.
I myself am wearing black pants.
What are the odds?
Anyway, I am about to step out for my solo when up walks a work colleague, someone senior in my field for whom I have enormous respect. This is alarming because 1) I am in a state of semi-undress, which may or may not be visible to everyone in the room; and 2) I am about to step forward and claim as my own the most inane song on the planet.
This song, "Everybody," was written by Ingrid Michelson, who also wrote some songs that I rather like. This particular song, however, is dumb as a post, words and music both. Thing is, Ingrid Michelson herself is absolutely adorable, so she can sing really doofy songs like this one and she is still totally fetching. My own adorableness, on the other hand, is well past its expiration date. That is why, when I write my own songs, I fill them with words like anaphylactic, obsidian, and eschew. The songs may not be particularly good, and I may not sing them all that well, and Lord knows I can't dance. But at least they might get you a few extra points on the SATs.
I usually hate hearing recordings of myself, and seeing videos is beyond mortifying. But I was relieved to see this one. Because as you can see, despite the fact that I was at that point going top-tier commando, it was not, apparently, particularly noticeable.
But I did learn from the experience! I studied that video - the Janet Jackson one, I mean, her full-length Superbowl performance. I did not fail to notice that as Janet gyrated, sang and leaped around the stage, her costume stayed perfectly in place -- and would have continued to do so, had Justin Timberlake not ripped it off of her.
So next time I gig a craft fair, I will do so in a tight-fitting bustier -- laced into place, so that it will not slip an inch, no matter how Alexander Technique-perfect my posture. Maybe I'll throw in a cape for good measure.
But I think I can keep the black pants.