Over the weekend I was at the supermarket shopping for a couple of last minute things. Grocery shopping may be a dynamic activity for some, but for me it is not. I usually try to multitask while shopping because I would rather be anywhere else.
At one point I found myself in a trance facing the canned goods aisle. I recall I was, at that very moment, mentally rehearsing the Master Class I plan to give at Vent Haven this year. I am not sure that is germane to this story but it is a fact. (Also, I am not ashamed of blatantly promoting my part in the ventriloquist ConVENTion this coming July .. Here is the link:)
My trance was broken by a supermarket stocking clerk asking, "Can I help you find something?"
"No, uh.. I was just thinking out loud, " I replied.
The look on his face told me I said something wrong. Of course, never having seen him before this could be his normal look.
(A Wayland and Madame line is appropriate here, Madame: "This guy says to me..'Are you giving me a funny look?' I said to him 'you have a funny look but I did not give it to you.' ")
There was no time to consider that idea as I was returning to the real life trappings of a grocery store. Like someone caught asleep at the switch I felt the need to explain.
I continued to babble..."To myself.. I mean. I was thinking out loud to myself ... well, not out loud... that's why I wasn't saying anything, I was just standing here, but then you know that... it's why you asked if you could help, isn't it?" The clerk smiled defensively and quickly vanished from my view.
This obsession I have to fill silent space with words is very useful on stage but in real life it ends up causing more confusion than necessary. There was a simple and easy answer to the clerk's question, "Can I help you?" The answer is: "No, Thank you." But for some reason I thought I needed to explain what I was doing in that asile. It could be a mild form of Tauretts Syndrome. To over analyze it, until he interrupted me I was definintely not shopping, I was silently performing. It was as if I got busted by an "intention detective" and needed to give an alibi for taking up space in the green bean asile with no intention of buying canned goods. No one was asking and no one cared, least of all the guy who keeps the shelves full.
It reminds me of another time when my mouth was way ahead of my good sense. I was with a group of guys at Universal City Walk. The "Beach" bar was hosting a "Miss Hawaian Tropic.. bikini contest" which was in full progress. It consisted of half a dozen georgous young women modeling beautiful tans and wearing bearly legal string and thong bikini's for horny bar patrons. The MC/host would quickly interview the girls before they strutted their stuff down the make shift runway. To one particualrly voluptuous blond, the MC asked, "Give me three words that qualify you to be, Miss Hawaian Tropic Tan?" Very quickly I heard someone yell out:
"Big, F-----, Tits". As the crowd was acknowledging the line with a precocious laugh, I realized the obnoxious adlib actually came from my mouth. If I was on stage I could have blamed Bob, but he was not there, and I was not on stage. It was actually more of a shock to me than anyone else.
Those around me, who deal with my schitzophrenic split reality, have suggested I take a breath and come back to reality before I give a knee jerk vocal reaction. It is not as easy for me as one would think. It is so counter intuitive to my career. On stage it is the quick or the dead with an adlib. There is no time to think about how inappropriate it might be. The liberty and tolerance given to a performer is not the same as being socially correct. I'm working on it.
As you were,