In a sea of petty bitches + trick-ass ho’s, I was a real show pony.
I got a taste for fame at a young age.
At a mere 9 years old, I was hand-picked to play the lead role in my local acting camp’s rendition of “Peter Pan.”
I was kind of a big deal.
Chosen, of course, for my solid build and strong set of pipes – perfect for prancing around onstage in green tights and being hoisted up by ropes while belting out Mary Martin’s beloved song lyrics – I was a natural choice.
And I received the full star treatment. Man, did it suit me:
* First seat on the bus for day trips to the reservoir.
* The envy of my peers.
* A chance to sing on public radio.
* Top-billing on the (neon-colored flyers that passed for) show programs.
I was a real show pony.
As it does, fame brought me lots of friends… but also plenty of enemies. There were kids who salivated at the thought of my downfall.
Like Kyra Hanson.
When I broke the stall door in the theater bathroom, it was no secret who’d snitched.
That ho had been gunning for me ever since I scored the starring role, relegating her to the ranks of “dancing alligators.”
Never mind that we’d all taken turns swinging on that door before its hinges finally gave way under my weight…
I’d gotten a taste of fame, and I wasn’t about to let it slip through my fingers because of one petty bitch who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.
Acting was my destiny.
High on the fumes of showbiz, I started attending an acting class one night a week.
On my off hours, I watched and re-watched my favorite films to learn from my on-screen heroes…
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen in It Takes Two…
Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap…
Thora Birch in Monkey Trouble…
(Yeah. Nobody remembers old Thora, do they?)
I just knew that someday, it would be ME up there.
I was ready to do the work.
But also, I had a solid backup plan: enter as many of those Nickelodeon “star-in-a-TV-show” contests as I possibly could.
Success = guaranteed.
To me, it seemed that a superstar fate was unavoidable.
Then, Charlie Baxter happened.
Charlie was a 5th-grader – one year older than me – and widely considered to be a huge dork. You know the type: goofy, klutzy, chubby, spat when he spoke.
He showed up at my acting class. The nerve!
It was laughable that he was there, thinking he’d find a place among us seasoned thespians.
But as we began our routine exercises for the night, it became clear that Charlie had quite the knack for it.
He received countless compliments from the teacher. He was chosen for improv scene after improv scene.
When my turn rolled around, I didn’t get so much as a “thanks for trying.”
And I realized that my willpower – fueled by a motivation to someday kiss Jonathan Taylor Thomas – was not going to get me far.
I needed to find an alternate route to glory.
So, my parents asked a family friend to give me voice lessons…
… which worked like a charm as long as I only sang “On My Own” from Les Miserables.
Then, I decided music was more my thing.
On my next birthday, my parents shelled out for a guitar and a beginner’s class…
… 19 years later, I could maaaybe still strum a few chords from Counting Crows.
Soon after that, my youth group praise team was in desperate need of a bass guitar player…
So, my parents hooked me up with a starter version…
… which I rocked for about 3 months.
(Okay, pause. I can feel your judgment from here. Clearly, my parents spoiled the shit out of me. That is my right, as an only child. #SorryNotSorry).
My last attempt at a life in the spotlight came in 10th grade, when I tried out for the lead role in my high school’s production of Number the Stars.
My audition was flawless.
The only mistake I made was telling my good friend, Lacey, about it. Lo and behold, she showed up and literally stole the show.
Got to stage kiss Alex Markle and everything.
With that, my daydreams of Oscars and Emmy’s were kaput. Reese Witherspoon and I would never be besties. I’d never solicit dating advice over drinks with Julia Roberts.
I abandoned my preoccupation with performance in favor of more pressing pursuits: like boys. Late night skinny dipping in the ocean. And Rusty’s Pizza.
Six years later, I found myself in the middle of Parnell Square in Dublin, Ireland.
It was late morning.
I wore a cherry red sweater and my favorite pair of jeans – the ones that were perfectly worn-in and soft with a saggy butt that would later prompt my partner to “accidentally” throw them away.
Standing with a small group of college peers, I waited on the taxi that would return us to our hotel after a quick breakfast.
Across the square, a rag-tag crew was piecing together what looked like a stage and sound system for an event later that day.
As I stood there silently taking in the predictable chaos of the stage team, the locals, the traffic, a familiar sound cut through the air…
… the first few beats of Amy Winehouse’s Valerie.
I recognized them instantly.
Without a moment’s thought, my feet began tapping out the rhythm.
And I danced with my friends right there in Parnell Square, as the bass drum coursed along the city walls and washed us in its echo.
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