Friday, June 30, 2006

Misadventures on the Metro

chapter 14
My internal temperature creeps higher as beads of sweat well at my temples. I blink, adjusting to the spotlight, and squint to make out the figures in the black abyss. Something inside reminds me to unlock my knees to keep from fainting. I clench and release both fists at my side, heart beating heavy in my ears.

I know this will happen. The mere thought of a performance induces these anxiety-ridden symptoms. Some comfort can be found in a big stage with hot, blinding lights and no view of the strangers staring back. I can pretend to be anonymous, in my own shower, no one watching.

The more intimate venue in regular lighting, especially among friends and acquaintances, can cause more severe stage fright. I feel exposed, stripped, metaphorically naked, susceptible.

There’s something to be said about the people who take it upon themselves to provide entertainment for Metro riders. I’m not talking about the dreadlock-wearing guitar player or sitar-like-instrument-strumming Yoda guy at the station. I mean the performers ON the Metro.

I’ve only seen it a few times. My first encounter happened during the Christmas season. As per usual my head was buried in a book when a middle-aged Asian man stepped on board the crowded train. Suddenly he began singing Silent Night. As if by a choreographed pop-and-lock move, all heads turned to catch a glimpse of the man with enough courage to not only speak, but SING on the Metro. His melodic rendition of the hymn was lovely, if not without a few “heavenry” and “Siwent” pronunciations. After the five verses, I felt warm and fuzzies and was thankful for the good Christmas feelings he inspired (at least within me).

The experience was a far cry from last night. The Metro has been miserably crowded and slow, forcing me into extra grumpy and annoyed mood swings. After three very crowded trains passed, I boarded and even found a seat. One stop later, I noticed a young teenage kid joining our ride home.

Back to my reading, I blacked out most surrounding noise listening to Sigur Ros on my husband’s IPod, when suddenly I overheard a sound, which, after yanking out my ear buds, I quickly traced to the unsuspecting teenager. I couldn’t help staring. He had his own set of ear buds plugged into what must have been a karaoke tape. Swaying back and forth, he was half singing, half screeching, lost in his own universe. I noticed my fellow passengers stealing glances at the performer. For six of the eight stops between my house and work, the young man continued his performance, oblivious to his surroundings.

It takes guts. I just wish it also took talent. Unfortunately, the stage-fright-free singer sounded more like William Hung than Clay Aiken. Blast American Idol anyway – it’s inspired too many talent-less people to pursue their dreams, some even on the Metro.

No comments: