When the delightful Pam Hill asked if I would compete in the third ever Scranton Story Slam, my initial reaction was one of surprise, nausea and overwhelmingly reluctance. A bit like oral sex. In what universe does that sound at all appealing? But, I am ever swayed by peer pressure; I knew others who had done it, friends who I am sure wouldn't lie to me, who told me I would be "awesome at it and have a damn good time!" And so, I donned my best underwear, sprayed twice, and took a deep breath.
I give you my oral all:
I won't give you the running commentary. But let's say, if you ever catch me flicking my hair nervously like that again, please give me a Chinese burn. Thanks muchly.
The seven minutes or more--probably more--flashed by in a blur. I was nervous, not just the flutter of small lepidopteran wings in my colon, but like, oh God almighty, Sigourney Weaver Alien Baby about to breach, and Lord knows there was not enough room in that dress for any kind of stomach issue!
Now, dear Reader, I know what you are thinking, "But Eleanor, you were an actress, this talking in front of people mullarkey should be a cake walk!" Well, no. No, acting is quite different. Acting you can be someone else. Acting, you are regurgitating lines from someone else's mind. You can blame them. Story Slamming, is all you. It is YOU under the lights, strapped to an imaginary chair, a chainsaw whirring through your cranium to cut a slice of brain for microscopic inspection. You are judged: for delivery, for eloquence, sometimes boob retention, but mostly for content. It's one thing to be thought talentless, quite another to be considered dumb.
There were several times I tried something new--I was spontaneous--and it didn't quite hit the spot, but the peel of laughter from the Thespos at the back, implied I was, at least, going in the right direction. Then I got to the broccoli bit--the physical flailing where I am in danger of losing my mind as well as my boob, apparently--and the adrenalin was hitting hard. I just wanted to get to the end, reach the climax of the story and roll off the stage for a glass of pinot noir and tuna bite. I writhed, shrieking like a banshee and as I dropped to my knees, I looked up, eyes wide, took a breath and it was the best feeling in the world; my vision sparkled with the glint of white teeth, the reflection of eyes, spectacles, pints of beer, glasses of wine; the glisten of sweat, and gums, tongues and tonsils; people were listening to me.
I didn't win, but it was okay, I'd had my own personal victory. I had made it through my oral! I had found my voice, "Yes! Yes!" People had listened and laughed! And I had done it all without a wardrobe malfunction.