Thursday, June 12, 2014

From Sailing to Singing: My Public Debut

Thought I would try something different this week. Being retired and all, I'm not on a strict schedule. And being middle-aged-going-on-senior, I've lost at least a few of the inhibitions that crippled me in my youth. Did you know that public speaking was so terrifying that I fainted during my first speech attempt, at age 17?

Who knew I would go on to become a speechwriter and speaking coach who would lead training seminars and speak at national conferences?!

To start at the beginning: If you haven't checked the blog lately, we moved the sailboat from Florida to a protected marina in South Carolina. Pope headed home. I hopped in a rental car to visit my always-exciting-and-full-of-crazy-ideas friends Cindy and Dave in Charleston.

This month, they are pursuing two new hobbies: shag dancing and karaoke. Both require a large degree of exhibitionism. No room for introverts or wimps with no backbone. Good thing I'm not one of those anymore!

Well, I couldn't very well shag without a partner, and Dave can't handle two women at once (or so he claims). So we set up an amp and mike in the living room and practiced for my public debut as Karaoke Exhibitionist No. 17,546, Public Nuisance, and Violator of City Noise Ordinance 32-573(c).

We headed out to a cozy joint called Finz with friendly and encouraging bartender  Joe. Joe had the good sense to bring earplugs.

I scoped out the venue and analyzed the audience, just like any self-respecting public speaker, performer, or Public Exhibitionist would naturally do.

Dave jumped in feet-first, with a smooth, silky rendition of Blue Suede Shoes. (That's karaoke DJ Steve in the background.)

It took an hour or so to build up courage,  but eventually I scratched my name on the list of would-be American Idol stars, willing to sing their hearts out for a sympathetic audience of 25 or so, at the extreme risk of severe and lasting brain-damaging humiliation. I was committed! This was harder than agreeing to give up my house and bed and refrigerator and car to live on a boat for six months!

As you can see from the photo, I didn't faint. I didn't even squirm after the first song. I sang "City of New Orleans" (Arlo Guthrie) with trepidation and great trembling but things went better with "Someday Soon" (Judy Collins). I was somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of quality. At least I could carry a tune. And I learned a thjng or two about timing and handling a mike, thanks to helpful DJ Steve. 

My fellow crooners (one of whom had performed on the Lawrence Welk show) were supportive with mild cheers, somewhat enthusiastic applause, and high fives. In the end, I jumped in and "performed" four songs, the last a Barbra Streisand/Neil Diamond duet with DJ Steve: "You Don't Bring Me Fliowers Anymore." Also another personal Streisand favorite, "Evergreen."

I got huge kudos from the pros for tackling Streisand!

Being suddenly in great demand for my entertainment value, I immediately hopped on a train and headed for my next gig, in Washington, DC. You can book me on my website; I still have a few spots left!

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