COLUMN: In way over my head

“You’re going to be performing memorized poetry.”

The last three words of this sentence creepily echoed in my brain like in a cheesy sci-fi flick: “performing memorized poetry … performing memorized poetry … performing …”

I don’t like performing. Or poetry.

With memorization thrown into that batch, you’ve just cooked a little college freshman with bad fortune. I’m toast.

When I signed up for the “Fundamentals of Interpretative Reading” course, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Or maybe I did, and I just chose to ignore it in my utter obstinacy. "I can handle it," I remember thinking. "How bad can it be?"

"Bad," answered my conscience after the first couple class periods. "Very bad."

Not bad as in I’m going to be up-to-my-hairline-in-homework bad, but more along the lines of … embarrassing. Mortifying. Maybe even a bit belittling. That kind of bad. After all, I’m going to be reduced to nothing but a tiny speck of pathetic-ness after my first poetic performance.

It isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen. Not worse than getting stabbed in the heart by a stingray (RIP Steve Irwin). Or forgetting how to swim in the narrow Gansbaai channel (one of the world’s most shark-infested beaches, nicknamed “Shark Alley”). Or jumping off a bridge. Then again, if there was a trampoline for landing, I might have to rethink that last one.

Don’t get me wrong. Some people love this sort of thing, even relish in it. Some people actually like rattling off Shakespeare under the spotlight. I’ve heard, on several occasions, “Yeah, that class is awesome! You’re going to love it!”

Love it, I will not. At least I’ve already started to warm up to the idea of being the center of attention. Warmed up in a literal sense; that is, flushed face, heat waves–you get the picture. Our class has launched into a few “performance exercises” which had me standing awkwardly in the center of the room, my peers forming a circle around me, lights glaring and hot, and the room absolutely noiseless. I don’t care much for performance exercises.

On the bright side, maybe when the class is over, and I can breathe a sigh of relief, I’ll actually be able to look back on it and think about how much I learned. Or didn’t learn. Either way, I’ll probably have a little appreciation for it. More importantly, I’ll forever have the memories of each and every time I made a total idiot of myself in front of at least 25 people.

What could be better than that?


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