Month: December 2016


I Flash Back.

Shane will be in the school play. In fact, everyone who auditioned will be in the school play.

The director – who is a saint – decided to keep everybody who auditioned, and has created two separate casts so that more kids will have a chance to do their things. They’ll be performing on separate days/nights – but all kids will be in both casts.

To be quite honest, I don’t care at all that Shane has a minor role. If there were no minor roles, there would be no play. It’s not all about “being the star” on stage. It’s more about working together, being together, and creating something from nothing. It’s about starting with nothing but a script and a group of people, and making a whole show.

It’s about the kids having fun and making people smile.

I think Shane’s going to have a really good time being part of the cast, helping to make the play great, and hanging out with his friends after school. He’s going to be able to take a bow at the end, and hear the applause, and feel that surge of accomplishment from being a part of a team that’s created something great.

My only real concern is that – once again – all of Shane’s closest friends got lead roles. His two best friends got the two roles Shane wanted most. His other very close friend got the lead. Two female friends from his church group got lead roles.

Shane has some very fun, smart, and outgoing friends who are going to be marvelous on stage. I am thrilled for his friends. They are all great kids, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the play with them in it.

But I can’t help myself: I flash back.

All of Shane’s friends who got lead roles in the play … were also patrols in fifth grade. And Shane, who would have been a spectacular patrol, was not a patrol. It’s still painful for me to think about, even though Shane doesn’t talk about it anymore.

Shane’s a pretty happy kid, actually.

But I was not a happy kid. And I’ve realized that a lot of my angst over Shane’s being overlooked is just unresolved sadness from my own youth.

When I was growing up we moved, on average, every two years. As the “new kid,” I kept trying to reinvent myself. I figured eventually, I would get it right. I would somehow show up at a new school, and suddenly people would like me.

This finally happened – sort of – in college.

Before that, I was bullied, ignored, beaten, rejected and – most notably – silent. In 6th grade, I auditioned for the school talent show – and didn’t get in. In 8th grade, I auditioned for the school chorus – and didn’t get in. I joined sports teams in high school without auditions, but I spent most of my time on the bench.

I didn’t speak to anyone. I didn’t smile. And I sure didn’t go out of my way to be kind to people. I just wandered in, glanced around in a panic, and said nothing – did nothing – while waiting for someone to like me.

Looking back, I realize that I was never comfortable with myself as myself – which meant I let very few people know me.

But Shane is not like that. He is already content with who he is, a characteristic I so admire in him. He’s happy with his friends, his family, and his way of being.

And he should be, because Shane is a great kid.

I could learn a lot from him.

Rejection is a Horrible Thing.

Shane texted me after he looked at the callback list, which was posted the day after auditions.

“I’m not on the callback list,” he said.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

As in the past, Shane seemed to have been overlooked. I flashed back to the days when so many of his friends were accepted into the GT program, when every one of his friends was selected to be a patrol. I remember only too well his self-proclaimed “worst day of my life” – the day that all the patrols went to a huge carnival, exclusively for patrols, and Shane was left at school alone.

It was hard not to think of those things again, as all of the friends who auditioned were called back to audition again. And Shane wondered, again, What about me?

Rejection is a horrible thing. It’s the kind of thing that can take a self-confident person and crush his spirit. Or it can take an insecure person (like me) and turn her into an incapable blob who gives up on life.

Shane is so loaded with talent. He writes better than anyone I’ve ever known. He has a natural-born ability to take photographs that surpasses even my greatest efforts over the past 50 years. He’s a great drummer. He’s fantastic in the tech booth for the school’s morning show, and will likely be the student director next year. He’s hysterically funny, in a low, off-beat sort of way. He gives spectacular speeches and was a great magician (when it interested him to be one). Shane remembers things – punchlines, statistics, things that happened when he was a toddler – so well that sometimes I wonder if there’s more to his memory than just intelligence.

He’s just got a knack for these things.

But when it comes to being chosen for stand-out roles, on stage or in the world, sometimes he just gets overlooked.

Why Did He Get a Separate Sheet of Paper?

Shane tried out for the school musical.

He loves acting. He had a bit part in last year’s musical, and he had a big part in a movie that was filmed by college students and (six years later) has yet to be released. He thinks acting is great fun.

So we all wish the best for him when he’s auditioning.

When he came out of the audition this year, he said he remembered every word of the song. “But I forgot to project,” he said. (Dylan taught him to project, to sing from the gut.) He was worried because he didn’t know what was most important.

Of course, no one knows what’s important. Acting is such a subjective thing. Shane’s drama teacher is the absolute best. She really tries to give everyone a role that works for them – even though (this year) 90 people are auditioning for the play.

“There was one interesting thing about the audition,” Shane said.

“What?”

“Well, when I was walking out, the teacher took a new piece of paper out. And I saw her write ‘Shane’ on it. I don’t know what the new piece of paper was for, and I didn’t think I should ask her, but my name was the only one on the piece of paper.”

My mind raced. With 90 kids auditioning, why did he get a separate piece of paper? Maybe she was just listing names, and she’d run out of room on the other piece of paper. But Shane was second-to-last that day, so I can’t imagine she would have started a whole new piece of paper for just two people.

It’s amazing how easily a little act like writing down one name on a piece of paper can become the Dark Mystery Of Our Time.

We are all anxious to find out what it means. My guess: it means nothing.

But who knows?

Auditions are always stressful.

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