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I mentally run through a checklist of “must-haves” each morning as I get ready for my walk run. If any of these are missing, I’m prone to freak out a little, go back home to retrieve the missing object or scrap the whole thing. I’ve been running and walking for a long time. I’m picky when it comes to my exercise.
My music is one of the most essential things to me when I’m out on the trail. I have playlists that, I swear, boost my speed and endurance. Also, if I’m queen of the road with no one around, I sing along. Actually, I do a bit more than just sing. I do arm gestures and have sometimes thrown in a shuffle step or kick. You see, at least 90 percent of what I listen to is show music. Say what you want about me—that I’m old, that I’m corny, that I’m a melomaniac—but I love show tunes!
It was my grandmother, Mimi, who introduced me to musical theater. She started taking me to Theater Under the Stars in Houston, Texas when I was five. It was theater-in-the-round and she always managed to score front-row seats. It was a magical experience that imprinted me for life.
It wasn’t until 5th grade that I actually had the guts to think that I could be a performer. One day, my teacher, Mrs. Johnson, ran out of things to teach us, and there were 30 minutes left until school was out. I think she was probably improvising when she suggested that volunteers from the class come to the front and act out a scene from a book that we were currently reading. My attention was piqued by fine-print things that no one ever tells you about motherhood. I had sung in the kids’ choir at church and had played at a piano recital, but neither was the same as “acting out.” I had never, ever done any kind of performing where I was solo, just me and an audience. Mrs. J gave us all about 5 minutes to come up with something. My stomach started to churn. A few kids got up and tried to be dramatic, and everyone clapped, but probably out of respect for their courage to actually get up in front of an audience rather than their acting ability. Then I warily raised my hand, and I kid you not, at that moment, a star was born.
From then on, not only was I hooked on watching live theater but I was obsessed with doing live theater. I was fortunate to have a lot of support from “theatrical” adults and a best friend who encouraged me to go to New York and win a Tony.
I acted my way through junior high and high school and majored in Theater in college. I did a few professional jobs. But then I decided that getting married was more important than Broadway lights in New York. So I taught theater for a few years, and then life moved on. But my love of everything theatrical, specifically music theater, stayed burning within me. It’s one of those things that can never be extinguished.
By the time I met Capt’n Clean eighteen years ago, I had had several careers. To this day, he has never seen me “act out” on stage. He just doesn’t know what he’s missing. Or maybe he does. I warned him, on our very first date, that I had a dramatic past. He nodded and smiled because that is what everyone does in a new relationship. He had no clue until we had been seeing each other a few months and it became evident that he was going to spend the rest of his life with a Broadway musical theater whacko.
Capt’n Clean had just finished an engineering assignment in Austin, Texas. I drove there to meet him. We had decided to spend a few extra days enjoying Sixth Street, Barton Springs, and Bee Caves before he had to move on to his next project. At that time, I drove a really sweet, mint-green Saab-93 turbo convertible. We both loved Saab-ie and had a blast darting around Austin with the top down, grooving to our favorite tunes. Capt’n Clean had brought along two huge CD cases loaded with his favorites, which was just about every classic rock album that existed. Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, the Stones – he had them all. Of course, not to be outdone, I had come equipped with my Broadway faves as well: Fiddler on the Roof, Hello Dolly, Gypsy, Oliver, The Music Man…I had them all.
When he saw my treasured discography, he kind of looked away and slid another one of his CDs into the car stereo. But, I didn’t care, I just smiled and nodded my head to the beat of the music, because that is what everyone does in new relationships. I liked most of his music, even though I couldn’t sing along with it like I could with my own collection.
Everything was great up until the last morning when we were getting ready to load up Saab-ie and go home. We had paid extra to lodge my precious 4-wheeled baby in a covered parking garage right off of Sixth Street. As I walked to the passenger side I noticed that broken glass was everywhere. One of Saab-ie’s side windows had been busted out. Thank goodness they hadn’t messed with the convertible canvas top. Capt’n Clean immediately started taking inventory to see what had been stolen. The stereo and knick knacks we had left in the car were still in place, but his CD cases were both missing.
“Oh, no,” I shrieked, “they took all of our CDs!”
He was speechless as he pointed to the back seat and shook his head.
Scattered all over the back seat and floorboard were A Chorus Line, Chicago, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, Godspell…every one of my discs was there. My CD case, however, was gone.
Eighteen years later, I still shudder when I think about it. I wonder about the awful people who did this to my car, to my future husband, and to my taste-in-music pride.
So, to the bandits who robbed us that day:
Shame on you. Obviously, you have no taste, no class, no artistic sophistication. I hope that nothing ever comes up roses for you. I hope you got caught and had to do the cell block tango. May your parades all be rained on. May all your dreams be impossible. May you never be a rich man. And, may your children all, like me, be musical theater maniacs.
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