It’s FML Friday! So, I’m cooking up something fun to do as FML’s release date gets closer. Actually, I’m trying to cook up lots of fun things, but since we all know I’m a terrible cook, I’ll just tease you for now.
FML isn’t just about the horrible things that happen during Simon’s night. Sure, sometimes it seems like he’s moving from one disaster to another (which is sort of how life feels most of the time!) but he also makes some choices that really define who he is and who he wants to be. Those turning points are what really make Simon Cross’s story shine.
We’ve all had those kinds of turning points in our lives. Decisions we’ve made that shaped us into the people we are. Most of the time, those decisions aren’t momentous. Often, it’s the small, insignificant acts that set us on the path.
For me, one such moment was in high school. Tenth grade to be precise. I was in the Drama club and we were performing a night of one act plays and monologues. I’d chosen this dreadful monologue from I Hate Hamlet. To be honest, I didn’t really get the monologue or the character. I didn’t even read the whole play. I wish I could remember why I’d chosen it in the first place, but I can’t.
Anyway, we ran the show for just two nights. The first night, I survived, but it was a snoozefest. I knew it, Ms. B knew it, all my friends knew it. Only, everyone was too nice to tell me. The thing was, I really wanted to kill it. I wanted to show people who I was and who I could be.
To understand why this was important, you have to know that I was a real introvert. Shy, quiet, geeky. For me to even be in the Drama club was a minor miracle in itself. The day I auditioned for my first play in 9th grade (Dracula…I played Renfield) was another turning point in my life.
If I went on stage a second time and performed that lame ass monologue, I just knew I’d regret it. So I devised a plan. I didn’t tell anyone. Not even Ms. B, our advisor and director. Now, you have to remember, this was 1993. This would be wildly inappropriate today, but was only mildly offensive back then. And it was art!
I gathered up my mom’s pink flip-flops, some short shorts, and tied my t-shirt in a knot, went on stage, and played the whole scene ridiculously gay. I mean like Nathan Lane gay. Over the top, flaming queer.
And it was hilarious.
Looking back now, it seems rather insensitive, but at the time, I was putting on a show. And people responded. It was an insignificant moment. I never became an actor and I didn’t have an epiphany in that moment, but by putting myself out there and making a fool of myself, I unwittingly set the stage for the rest of my life. I became less shy, more likely to take chances. I never got over being shy, but I learned that if I took control of the narrative—if I made fun of myself instead of letting other make fun of me—that the slings and arrows didn’t hurt quite so much.
The debate coach saw my performance that night and invited me to join the team, which led to some of the best times I had in high school. I can trace so many decisions back to that moment. Taking off and going to Rome by myself, skydiving, publishing books, moving to a new state with only the contents of my car.
Sometimes I wonder what kind of person I’d be right now if I never got on stage in my mother’s pink flip-flops. I’m sure I’d still be around, but I doubt I’d be very interesting.