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A friend of mine, Cai, had contacted me with an invite for a surprise party for his wife, Renee. I had replied that I would love to go, but would more than likely, show up dressed in my 1950's retro attire....perhaps even dressed like Lucy!
My friend, Cai, replied that he'd love to have me show up dressed as Lucy! And right there, I had the genius idea to perform as Lucy at this surprise party!! I didn't really have the resources to provide her with a gift at this party, but I could perform a skit for her as a gift! A gift that certainly wouldn't be duplicated, right??!!?? I suggested the idea to Cai and he heartily agreed that his wife would love it.
WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING !!??
I had never even attempted to memorize any part of this routine, and it is complex to say the least! I had less than a week to prepare and it would be a crazy thing to attempt (but we all know I"m crazy)
I pulled up a video of the Vitameatavegamin episode on my iPhone and watched it at every opportunity; on the way to work, on the way home from work, as I lay in bed every night until I'd fall asleep.... Over and over and over again until I felt I had perfected every word, every comedic pause, every facial expression, every nuance that IS Lucy! I even located and printed the script so I could nail down every syllable as she began mispronouncing words as she becomes drunk.
I performed for some co-workers the day before the surprise party and had done pretty well, I thought, minus any props. They had laughed at appropriate times and to my credit, didn't require any explanation as to what was going on throughout the skit. On more than one occasion, I had even reduced them to tears as I became more "inebriated".
I was nervous as we drove to the party. I had put a lot into this and I had hoped Renee would like the end result. I watched my video and practiced one more time and jumped out of the truck, grabbed my props and walked into the restaurant....and I didn't see ANY familiar faces. I checked each and every table; all eyes on me as dining patrons wonder who I am and what in the hell I am up to.
My husband and I are then directed to the party... in the bar !!! The KARAOKE BAR !!! Oh great! I am NOT feeling as confident as I had been just moments before. I am greeted warmly, with lots of smiles and laughter and hugs. For the most part, the guests were my coworkers, so they were mostly aware of my vintage style. But I was quite the source of bar banter for those who didn't know me.
We all eat and visit for a while. One by one, my friends sing karaoke and are getting drunker by the minute as they celebrate. My confidence is wavering a little, and I even voice my concern that this may not be the right time or place ... but I am assured that everything will be fine.
I try to figure out how I am going to present my skit to my friend in a bar full of strangers. The layout of the bar did not lend itself to a skit, and now Cai had insisted that I perform it for everyone using the karaoke microphone! I pee my pinafore a little at this point.
As I steeled myself for my performance, I asked the bartender to add a little something to my prop bottle so I wouldn't have to fake the grimacing faces that Lucy makes as she takes the first few spoonfuls of tonic. The bartender obliged and added a shot of bitters. I glanced at the label as she poured, and, not to out-do Lucy, but this particular brand of Bitters had 47% alcohol !!! Going down in flames in five...four...three...two....and one!
I set up my props, got everyone's attention, Cai's holding the mic for me, took a deep breath and started my routine. The first spoonful of bitters knocked me silly upside my head and I barely got the spoonful down. Yup, I didn't have to fake the faces now!
I barely regain composure, take the second spoonful of bitters and seriously almost lost my dinner. I double over, retching, my eyes are watering, ears are ringing, throat is burning, knees are knocking, I should NOT have added to my prop... I should have stayed with what I knew!!!
I stand up, wipe the tears from my eyes, focus on my friends who are still cheering me on while trying to block out the jeers from the strangers sitting at the bar. I have shaken up the bottle in an attempt to mix up the mango juice with the bitters so I can continue on and like a Gong Show reject, I am shut down by a friend and coworker, who doubles as security at the bar. He has secured another mic and is begging for someone, anyone, to come sing a song. Despite some reassurance from my friends to carry on, I relent. I was shut down just at the point where things were going to get funny.
Wounded, I plastered a smile on my face (yes, a fake one) said my good-nights and relayed excuses about it being late and having to get home and go to bed... "Gotta get to work early in the morning, you know" ?
I learned some important lessons that night.
- Not everyone was fortunate enough to have been exposed to I Love Lucy growing up. They don't know classic comedy when they see it. What a shame.
- Always listen to your gut ... I knew I shouldn't have attempted that routine in a bar!
- Never, ever, ever attempt to perform a skit where someone unintentionally gets slowly inebriated in a roomful of people who are intentionally doing everything in their power to become rapidly inebriated...