Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The best things in life are free

The best things in life are free, like sunsets and time spent playing with toddlers or puppies. So I guess this card isn't a "best thing." That's OK. I like it, anyway.

I read an account of someone else's audition for the game show in Indianapolis, and their video interview sounded so much more pleasant and personable than mine was. It's disconcerting. I always did well at interviews and auditions. I'm Southern, after all. We're practically raised knowing how to converse in a lively and entertaining manner.

Not long after my high school class began planning its 20th reunion (and before it all fell apart and then fell into my inept lap for the organizing thereof), I became friends with a fellow whom I had barely known when we were actually in the same high school together. Krum was popular and well-liked. I think he might even have been respected. I know that there were three girls in the theatre department who adored him avidly and desperately wanted to garner his attention.

But I really didn't know him well until five years ago.

And I'll be honest: Krum is not someone that you would suspect would be my friend. He's very logical and reasonable; he's extremely conservative, both in religion and politics. He's an extrovert who absolutely doesn't understand introverts. Krum is sporty and athletic. He can espouse the virtues of team sports as if he really believes playing a game with 10 other people can make a person a better person. And he has never once been in a play, sung a solo, or picked violets to wrap in a ribbon.

Sometimes, emailing back and forth with Krum was a little bit like learning to speak a foreign language without benefit of a textbook or an audio lab.

But there were benefits to getting to know him. For one thing, he remembered events from a completely different perspective.

Krum attended a dinner with me (and a group of other high school seniors) at the home of the town's most prominent lawyer shortly before graduation in the spring of 1984. I do remember the event, somehow. I knew the lawyer and his wife from church, but I had never been inside their home. The invitation to dinner was an honor reserved for seniors who -- well, honestly, I don't know how or why we ended up on the invitation list. Neither the valedictorian nor the salutatorian were there. But a bunch of the rest of us "leaders" were.

So we were talking about that dinner, and Krum piped up with a description of the attendees, all hunched together at one end of the table, while I sat at the other end with the adults and conversed about politics and art.

And then I started trying to draw my schoolmates into the conversation. "Oh, Mrs. Higgins, your collection of Depression glass is glorious. You should see Darla's mother's collection. It's just sublime. Darla, tell Mrs. Higgins about your favorite pieces!" And Darla stared at me because she couldn't care less about her mother's fabulous Fostoria collection, which even my mother envied, and Mama's thing was art pottery, not glass. Not so much glass. But c'mon, you'd have to be crazy not to love pink Fostoria glass things!

Then I tried to pull some other senior into the conversation, and I definitely remember the look of stunned fear when I said his name. Oh, my, goodness gracious -- I promise his jaw was agape!

And that's the way the evening went. On my end of the things, I could not for the life of me understand why these other teenagers were so silent and sullen, or why some of them looked fearful or lost, while I sat there trying desperately to keep the conversation from flagging at the end with the old people. I mean, come on, those people were actual blue-hairs! How could they possibly out-talk the cheerful extroverts I saw in school every day?

Krum told me all about it from his perspective. He said he sat there trying to dine without spilling anything on his tie, while I held the adults enthralled with my talk of collectible crap and theatre stories. I must have been telling the clean stories. I don't think I would've talked about what goes on in the costume closet. At a nice dinner. No, I don't *think* I would have done *that*.

But Mama raised me to be able to converse nicely. I didn't think about it; I just did it.

So if I had that experience in my background -- really well established in my psyche, really -- how could I so mess up at an audition that was far more important than a random dinner for graduating seniors?

Oh, well. At least I have sunsets, a puppy, a lot of cardstock and inks, and my health. The best things in life might not be free, but it's definitely cheaper to appreciate what I do have than it is to try to buy what I don't have.


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