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Jinxed

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Three minutes of fear and trembling - performing at the Follies

I had been rehearsing for weeks, singing the song over and over until I heard it even in my deepest sleep. As I was driving, I was singing. I sang my granddaughter to sleep with it, I drove my daughter nuts with it, I sang it in the shower, and even made my dog Aspen listen to me sing it. 

The Angels Over Sandpoint were presenting “The Follies” and I was going to be on stage singing in front of a bazillion people. Well, not a bazillion, only 500, but you couldn’t tell my heart that. 

Tech-rehearsal took place the Monday before the Follies. I was sweating incessantly and I only had to sing in front of a few people! Even during dress rehearsal, my heart pounded so hard I was pretty sure you could hear it over the microphone and my saliva glands had migrated south, leaving my mouth a desert, and my bladder full and scared, which is very bad. 

My daughter, Stacey, was doing my hair and makeup. My friends Carolyn and Bugsy had created my dress, revealing more boobs than I am comfortable with and complete with a sexy slit up the side, that my notorious thigh kept creeping out of. I looked really good. Not very modest, but I looked good in a Mae West/hooker sort of way. It didn’t matter how good I convinced myself I looked though, my terror mounted as it grew near the time to perform. How do stars do this all the time? 

I stood trembling backstage while watching cowboys and Bo Peep make fun of Montana and sheep on stage, laughing at their antics, wondering how they managed to look so calm and so funny! My heart nearly exploded when “Queen Kate” introduced me and I was seriously afraid I was going to barf. 

I traipsed out on the stage, pretending to be fearless, my voice quivering as I sang my song, “There’s Lightning in these Thunder Thighs.” Even with the help of fellow performer Audra’s Clear-Voice spray, my mouth was so dry, I was pretty sure my teeth were going to be stuck to my lips forever and that my tongue had become a brittle, useless twig. 

I am not certain whether I swayed my hips the way the director, Deb had instructed me, or if I was twitching uncontrollably. I seem to remember showing my thigh off at the appropriate moment in the song, but as I look back, I am not real clear on those three minutes of fear and trembling that well. I was hoping that people were laughing as they should, but I can’t really remember hearing anything except my own voice shaking out the words. I remember praying before I went on stage, “Please God, don’t let me freeze up out there and please don’t let me faint,” and I thank God I did neither. 

While most people wear bands that say WWJD, (what would Jesus do), my own mantra is WWDD, (what would Daddy do… to me). While my Daddy would definitely not approve of the song, he would appreciate the fact that it was all done as charity work. 

The Angels over Sandpoint provide an awesome array of services in our community, from school supplies for kids that need them, to meals, support and transportation for area cancer patients. It was a privilege to be a part of something that would help raise money for such needs.

Before I went on stage, Angels Gail and Deb kept telling me I would be fine and just to go out on stage and “have fun.” Have fun? It crossed my mind that they might not realize how close I was to a complete melt down. I was trying to sing and convince my hips to move and my feet to dance and my entire body was on strike and just not very cooperative. I was down to the last verse of the song when the air that I was breathing suddenly vanished and I was spitting words out of my withered lips, hoping it sounded somewhat the way it was supposed to. 

Do you know how long 180 seconds are? Let me tell you, three minutes is a lot longer than you would think, especially when you are on stage beneath the lights, with several hundred strangers looking to you for some entertainment. I was grateful that Chris Lynch was playing the piano and I knew he would cover up any errors I made.

Even with all the encouragement beforehand, after I finished the last line of the song, I nearly sprinted off stage, flooring everyone who knows me with my speed. Who knew I could move that fast? I sure didn’t. If there had been a curtain call I don’t believe I could have gone back out, my fear was much greater than my desire to be applauded.  

I made my daughter Stacey walk with me over to Mick Duffs, where the Follies were being fed - live to the big screen TVs. All the performers walked over there after their act to say hi to everyone and let them know that they were a part of the Follies and very much appreciated. 

I was amazed when I walked in; some of my Clark Fork friends were there and started clapping for me. But that’s a requirement. I am from Clark Fork, they are my friends, but soon the whole crowd was clapping! I felt like a celebrity and the quivering mass of nerves that I had been toting around for a week faded away. I stood smiling and basking in the applause as if I were Elizabeth Taylor. A young Elizabeth Taylor! 

I went back to the Follies to enjoy watching everyone else perform, wondering if they were anywhere near as nervous as I had been. I didn’t notice any stuttering, or puddles beneath the performers, so I am thinking that I might have been the only one that was spazzing out like that under the pressure. Somehow, that just doesn’t seem quite fair. 

My boyfriend, Russ, had asked me earlier in the day, before I left to go the Follies, why I would put myself through that kind of stress. I looked at him amazed, stunned that he would even ask me that. I cleared my throat, looked dead into his blue eyes and with my most earnest voice, replied, “Because it’s FUN.” Duh!

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Author info

Jinx Beshears Jinx Beshears is a southern transplant to North Idaho, and shares her confusion with the Pacific Northwest Lifestyle in her column, Jinxed. When not writing, or living, her outlandish stories, she's generally lost somewhere in the mountains with her dog, Aspen.

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Angels Over Sandpoint, The Follies, singing

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