On my way to Wordsmiths in Decatur for their open mic night, my car ran out of gas on Clairmont. It was a sign. I wasn't supposed to attend that reading, for the essay I'd picked to read was not polished or terribly appealing for an audience. But I didn't know that at the time, even if I should've, so I persisted in my quest to get to the bookstore.
I left my Yaris hatchback (which I've named Bill, incidentally) in the turn lane where he stopped, hazard lights blinking. I dodged cars, got the gas can out of the back and walked a half-mile on the sidewalk. All in all, I was delayed about a half-hour.
But my car was only looking out for my best interests. When I got to Wordsmiths, the reading started out well enough but quickly fell flat. I eventually just paused, for I'd not practiced the piece (which was too episodic and didn't have enough dramatic tension to carry the listeners through it), then I quickly summarized the ending (which wasn't climactic enough). I rushed it. I got off the stage.
The reason I'd picked the wrong essay to read was because, well, I chickened out and didn't read the more polished, actually rehearsed essay which would've gone over much better with the audience. My justification for that was that, during the last open mic night, an 11-year-old girl was there singing songs she'd learned from the radio in front of her proud Christian parents, and I didn't want to follow that act with a story featuring inferences to, um, mishaps that can occur during hot, involved gay sex.
This time I didn't even have that essay with me. I should've, though. It would've gone over well with the crowd that had gathered, and li'l JonBenet wasn't even there.
As I said, lesson learned. It wasn't a complete disaster. I've been invited back, and I got some good laughs from the part of the essay that worked. But there's a right way to do this, and I know what it is.
I've got to hold my work and performances up to my own standards. Otherwise, I'm just Britney Spears at the VMAs.
Weird, this was apparently my 1,000th post.