July 31, 2012 by jooshanoosh
When I was 11 years old, I was sitting in music class at Orem Elementary, and Mrs. Hudson told us that they were doing auditions for the musical “Oliver” at the high school. They were looking for boys and short haired girls and I thought, “I’m a boy or short haired girl!” She told us that if we auditioned we would get 10 extra credit points and if we made it to be a “Work House Boy” we would get 50 extra credit points and if we made it to be a “Thieves Den Boy” then we would get 100 extra credit points! There was an audible gasp from the class. I raised my hand and asked, “What if we make it to be Oliver?” And she sort of smiled and laughed and said, “I will give you an A.”
Without the knowledge of my parents, but with the help of my piano teacher, I prepared to sing that thrilling, turbulent, showstopping number “Doe a Deer a Female Deer.” It was a huge success, so much so that I was called back and needed to learn the song “Where Is Love?” Up to this point, I had believed I was auditioning for the Disney show “Oliver in Company”; it turns out there is a stage musical based on the Animated Movie that has nothing to do with Cats or Bette Midler as a poodle. So I got the song and it turns out it is Oliver’s big solo, so I went over to my primary pianist’s house and she taught me the song. I then headed back for my call backs. It was narrowed down to one three Oliver-y looking boys. I read some lines, stood next to some Nancys and Fagins and then was thanked and sent on my way.
That night I told my parents what I had done. They were surprised, skeptical, and supportive. After all, there was a distinct possibility that I was talking about a production of “Oliver” that Amanda Wixom and I were doing on Sister Pittard’s porch…even those had auditions.
The next day while sitting in class, I got a call over the intercom to come to the office. My mind raced with probable felonies, but couldn’t pinpoint my exact offense. I walked into the office and the secretary handed me the phone and told me my Mother was on the line. My mind raced with misdemeanors, but still nothing.
“Spencer called me from the high school,” she said.
“Oh? Is he okay?”
“Yes. He said that they posted the cast list for Oliver outside the Drama Room.” I didn’t know what a “Drama Room” was, but it sounded wonderful.
“Oh, they did.” Mind you there is no emotion in either voice. My mom gets this soft throaty quality to her voice when she’s playing down excitement; I was too young to recognize it then.
“Yes, they did. And your name is on the list.”
Things we quickly clicking into place and it didn’t seem like I was getting in trouble.
“Yes, it is. You were cast as Oliver.”
Out of the blue the secretary spins in her swivel chair and is shouting at me. “ISN’T THAT GREAT?! YOU DID IT!! I’VE ALREADY TOLD YOUR CLASS!”
What is she saying? Who is she talking to? Why is she spinning and screaming in that chair?
So I got to be Oliver. I was 11 had both top and bottom braces and hair that stopped just short of my lower eye lid. It was life changing and, for a long time, it was the finest accomplishment of my life…like, really, only supplying grandchildren has eeked past this event. My dad would leave work just a bit early and come over the high school and sit in the very back row and watch my rehearsals; he never once gave me acting advice or told me to listen to the director, he just watched and then would sneak out when the rehearsal was over. I never asked him to come and he never asked if he could, but I could see him sitting back there. Most of the time I didn’t notice him, I was standing center stage and I couldn’t see past the lights. I was never embarrassed, I was never anything, his presence did not evoke any emotion because it was so natural that he would come; he was my dad and I was his world. Of course he would be there.
Only now, as I start to see the world though my two-year-old daughter’s eyes, and her life is a stage and every light cranes it’s neck to engulf her, I realize I was not my father’s world. He had a job and a wife that was once just his girlfriend that was once someone he’d never met. And before even that he was still a guy who loved his car and lived in Salt Lake and went on a mission and ate one pot of spaghetti for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a month. And also, he was once so young that he thought his father was only there for one thing and that was to wait outside the front door until it had been almost too long then stumble in making up stories of people at work who never existed because they had nothing to do with him. These Doug’s and Fran’s who his father prattled on about were all part of his supporting role as “Dad” — In tonight’s performance the role of ‘Dad’ will be played by: Van Livingston. Not until we have children to we see the world for what it really is…theirs. And our friends? Our Book Clubs? Our 40th Birthday Parties? All just backdrops for our children to run screaming through, to stay up an extra hour, or have friends who don’t live on their street come over. Anyway, it’s all for them and we don’t even evoke emotions because of it because they expect nothing less.
Though my kids are young, I love being their set piece. They have no idea what goes into that day at the zoo or how hard it is to leave them to go to work…and sometimes, how easy. It’s true: It’s Daisy’s world and we all live in it. I learned that from my Father.