I don’t know how I ended up here, but I am here. It’s happening and there’s no turning back. Only one word can describe what I’m feeling: sweaty. To think, like all things scary, it all started in a cubicle.
Most of my life these days is spent in a cubicle. I can’t even begin to imagine the freedom of an open floor design. Just small, grey boxes filled with pressed white collared shirts, shared with co-workers with no sense of how loud their tapping can be. Frequent too. Tap, tap, tap, tap. It makes three minutes feel like fifty. Fifty feel like an eternity. I can’t legally or ethically murder them. I can only escape into my mind.
Generally my mind is a silly place. Imagine an ol’ timey cartoon marching band having the time of their life. If you can’t imagine that, then imagine the mind of a person who would think that a cartoon band would be a good metaphor. So in the creative desert that is a row of cubes, I begin to put silly things on to paper. To be clear, I’m also very productive, because I have the work ethic of an ox. That’s probably my only similarity to an ox, other than that I’m a babe [the blue ox]. However, I’m an intern so work ethic or not, I have a lot of free time. I write whatever standard operating procedure my supervisor assumed would take longer than nine minutes and then I opine about my thoughts on what the deal with Mondays is. I’m a movie star in the sense that I do one for them and then one for me. This process seems to drown out the noise. So I’m on the joke writing bandwagon faster than you can say STOP CLICKING YOUR PEN SHIELA!
Are these jokes? I’m unsure if one could call them that. Some punchlines may exist, but if there’s no audience it might not count. This is for me only. My cartoon band of a brain is starting to play a new tune. My brain is filled with dreams or what others may call “delusions of grandeur.” If I could just get on stage, I would destroy with these comedy gems I’ve cultivated from the cubicle farm. I just need a time, a place, and a resulting movie/television deal.
Lucky for me, the fall semester was starting soon and I just happen to be an event programmer for my particular institution of higher learning. What the college really needs this semester; a student stand-up comedy showcase, or what I will be personally calling Chris Todd’s road to instant stardom. Now I had the time and the place. The fans were sure to follow. Just a pinch of crippling stage fright is the only thing standing in my way.
THAT is why I’m so sweaty. Why did I have to advertise this event so well?! I didn’t even know 200 people could fit in this vintage, library smelling theatre. My marketing savvy be damned.
Seventeen thoughts are running through my mind waiting to go up on stage. Number one is “I need a drink.” Number two is “I should have practiced this.” Number three through seventeen is “Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap, oh crap, I should go home.”
My mother is in the crowd. I invited her and my whole family because I wanted to be honest when I accepted any future awards and thanked them for being there from the beginning. I’m regretting this, although it would be nice to have someone willing to hug me after I fail. I could use that hug now.
Now please welcome to the stage, a student who forgot to hand in an introduction for me to use, Chris Todd!
The next four and a half minutes are a mix of telling jokes and a twenty one year old desperately trying not to pee, vomit, or pass out. When it was over, it was an experience largely similar to what I imagine a coma patient feels like upon waking. I felt weak yet excited and desperate for a glass of water. My heart rate was that of a hummingbird on speed for the next 35 minutes as I waited for things to wrap up and the judges to deliberate. I’m a lock to win this thing. My best friends are the judges, I organized the event, and I had some killer material about the board game Guess Who?
Third place. The dream is over. I’m done. Retiring as the third best comedian to ever grace this small, liberal arts college, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I’ve reached my peak. My future is now cubicles and noise cancelling headphones. Paradise.