Monday February 22nd, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the contestant.

There were only seven kids at soccer class today, so Max had lots of room to work with. He seems to like not being too crowded and I think this was one of his best sessions so far. Definitely showed off more of what he's capable of doing, in particular his awesome kicks.

I don't know where his interests will take him in the coming years, but I feel like if he sticks with soccer he'll do very well for himself.

It was a (relatively) warm and sunny day, so we spent some time after class with the other kids playing in the playground between the community centre and the elementary school next door. It's getting to be that time of year again.

Thank goodness.

Mine:

I need to relax. I'm stressing myself out over nothing. I know that. It's not like I'm the first person to ever go on TV for the very first time in their lives as a contestant on a game show. Countless others have travelled this road before me. I am not special.

And yet, somehow, none of these rationalizations are doing anything to calm my nerves.

It's not helping that something seems... off. I'd dismiss it as more anxiety driven nonsense, but I swear the backstage crew can sense it too. The way they're moving, talking, looking at each other. Or, mostly, not looking at each other.

Obviously I've never been in an environment like this before today, but it all feels... not right, somehow. Maybe this is just typical and it's not matching up with what I was figuring it would be. Not that I was aware that I had any expectations coming into this.

Seriously, though. Shouldn't there be a studio audience out there awaiting my arrival on stage? Why isn't there a studio audience?

"Hey!" I turn to find a fat man wearing a headset rushing toward me. "I've been looking all over for you. I need your key."

"My key? To what?"

"Whaddya mean, to what? To the cage, you moron! Come on, hand it over."

"I think you've mistaken me for someone else," I tell him with what I hope comes across as an apologetic shrug. "The cage? What cage?"

"Oh, so you're a funny guy, huh? Well we ain't got time for funny. Give me the key to the lion's cage."

"The.. what?"

"Come on, funny man. The taping starts in five minutes and I need to be able to release your big kitty pet on cue."

"Oh, that key," I say as I begin to slowly back away. "To that cage. Right, my bad. I must have left it in my car... be right back! Won't be a minute!"

2 Comments:

Greg said...

March is "that time of year again"? That's still pretty chilly in the UK (and nice for it too!). I think you'd like Malta then for living in, though you might have to live on Gozo if you wanted to keep farming :) And Max would find it much easier to make it into the National Soccer team I'm sure!
Ah, a longer piece from you, and entertainingly done too! I like the build-up especially, with the suggestion that maybe, just maybe, the contestant is a coward... and then the denouement with the mixed-identity revealing that he might just be sharp enough to survive this show after all! The conversation at the end is particularly good I feel, with the impatience with the perceived "funniness" coming across very strongly.

The contestant
"But we're not stealing anything." Cyril's face was as long as a basset-hound's and his eyes were as mournful. His voice, naturally deep, resonated in his chest (easily the size of two normal men stood side by side) and gave an odd gravitas to the sentiment that he wasn't being asked to do something illegal.
Kat, the other half of the experimental poetry duo Partners in Rhymes, who was as short as Cyril was tall, as petite as he was expansive, and solved tricky problems in relativistic physics in order to feel like she was keeping up her end of the intellectual see-saw, put her hands on her hips and cocked her head on one side. Soft brown hair fell over her head and she pushed her hips subtly forward, shifting her weight onto her forward foot, and smiled coquettishly. "We don't have to steal something everytime we perform," she said, but her words sounded just a little forced. "This time we could just win the first prize and have a fun... evening... out."
Silence fell between them like a velvet curtain.
"You don't believe that," said Cyril. There was a faint scent of honey emanating from him.
"No," said Kat. "But I'll tell you what, if we don't win we'll steal first prize anyway."
"Not win?"
The silence fell again.
"Yeah, I know," said Kat. "But according to the instructions we have to enter this competition and perform the Rite of Kathmandu as our second poem withouth drawing attention to ourselves."
"So unfair," said Cyril. His sigh was like a grizzly bear belching.
----
"Whose instructions were those?" Cyril was breathing heavily and sounded like a blacksmith's forge when all the apprentices were at work. He set Kat gently down on the ground. Her eyes were sparkling and her hands were full of gold watches and necklaces looted from a dying audience.
"Marco Qwan's," she said, breathless with laughter. There are six of them, and they should reveal, when followed to the end, where he disappeared to."
"And," Cyril paused, thinking back to the nameless horrors that had just been summoned and feasted on a crowd on unsuspecting philistines, "he hated audiences?"
"He hated audiences that didn't appreciate poetry."

Marc said...

Greg - I spent a couple of weeks in Malta in... I think it was early April. I recall it being mostly cool, with a couple of fairly warm days thrown in. I hope the country has been treating you well since your arrival.

Ah, another visit from Partners in Rhyme. Excellent! I'm still not sure how I feel about this recurring character of yours named Marco, but the rest of this vignette is spot on :D