When you are a theatre major you end up taking some weird classes.You walk away with strange skills that lack practical application and are virtually worthless (monetarily speaking). Don’t get me wrong, I think choosing to major in theatre was absolutely the right choice for me. I am actually working in theatre. Beyond that I certainly use my problem solving and communication skills daily in my ‘real’ job. And maybe I could even find a use for my fantastic Irish dialect if I tried but it would be a stretch.
One skill that has never benefited me and never will, in part because I never mastered it (or even came close) is juggling.
I took a movement class. It sounds pretty hippy dippy, I know. Our teacher was not hippy dippy though and the class ended up being pretty cool. The worst part for me was the juggling assignment.
We were given a one day crash course in juggling technique towards the beginning of the semester. We were then told to practice on our own because juggling would be our final. I felt nothing but terror in that moment as I watched several of my classmates already starting to get the hang of it by the end of that class period.
I am not coordinated or athletic or any of the things that make you a decent juggler. I was the girl who screamed in gym class every time the ball came my way. I realize everyone hates that person. I’m not proud of it, but it’s who I am. Thank god those traumatizing days are behind me and only occasionally haunt my dreams. Anyway my early attempts at juggling were beyond pathetic.
My friend and partner for the juggling final was very supportive nonetheless. She was actually good at juggling and was even able to juggle four balls by the end of the semester when we were only asked to get to three. She forced me to practice. She pulled those damn balls out everywhere we went.
She even made me juggle at the bean downtown, a spectacular event that has since become an annual tradition. I started to get it. I wasn’t good, mind you, but I could get maybe three rotations in there before the balls exploded out of my hands flying every which way. This was the bare minimum required to pass this freaking final, which was good enough for me. I clearly have no future in clowning and I accept that about myself.
So suddenly the semester has passed us by and we find ourselves in a rush to put together this juggling act. We came up with some silly routine where I was the dorky bad-at-juggling clown who gets in over her head when she competes against the terrifying bad-ass-good-at-juggling clown. We were ready. We donned our footy pajamas and silly hats and prepared our playlist on a computer labeled “Brechtian BoomBox.” It was the most stressful final I have ever had to take. But at this point there was nothing left to do but try… In retrospect I am upset at myself for not documenting this performance.
The moment came. It was our turn. We stood up, took a deep breath, and grabbed our balls. Everything we had worked for had come down to this, the moment of truth. We began. I started with one ball. Things were going fine. I added the second. Now for the third…. I picked up the third ball and by some stroke of good fortune… who am I kidding? It was a freaking miracle? I juggled. I juggled like I had never juggled before. The balls flew higher and higher landing perfectly in my hands each time. I made it through SEVERAL rotations, ok? It was graceful…Inspired! And my tongue was not sticking out of my face in concentration or anything. In that moment, I was no clown… I was a juggling God. Our act was a hit and my friend and I aced the final.
There are very few perfect moments in life, so when you have one you accept that it’s not something that’s going to happen to you again. I didn’t juggle after that because I knew… I just knew it would be a huge disappointment.
Fast-forward about a year. My friend and I find ourselves at the House of Blues. We were there drinking and enjoying the music when suddenly they announce they are holding a juggling competition and anyone in the audience was welcome to enter. My friend was overjoyed. “WE HAVE TO DO THIS!” oh God… ok… So we signed up.
We signed up and ended up standing onstage at the House of Blues with three other daring patrons and a clown. A LITERAL ACTUAL CLOWN ON STILTS WHO HAD BROUGHT HIS OWN JUGGLING BALLS. If I had known my competition would be on stilts I at least would have put on a pair of stilettos ok?? Well crap… I had just been bragging to everyone that I had taken a juggling class in school and had passed my final with flying colors. Now I had to pray for another miracle. I introduced myself (in retrospect I should have used a pseudonym) and was handed three tennis balls. In fairness tennis balls are not good for juggling at all! Any entry level clown could tell you that! And surely the alcohol didn’t help my coordination any, but hey, would I have entered a public juggling contest if I were sober? Probably… I biked naked through the city sober…
Anyway the countdown began. On your mark, get set, JUGGLE! And… I failed… miserably… I was the first one out and did not even come close to making second to last place. Whatever divine inspiration that visited me during my final was long gone in this moment. Please enjoy the results and note the actual juggling ability of my original juggling partner who also lost to the freaking clown.