An Unexpected Opportunity

A phone call yesterday – somewhat panicked, in a sweet sort of way – from the incomparable Beth Byrd, found me at the Just Off Broadway Theatre last night as a performer for their annual fundraiser. “Call”, the time to be at the theatre was 5:30. Beth’s telephone call came at 4:00. One hour to get my costume together (the fundraiser is renaissance themed), put my game face (and attitude) on, find my contact lenses, get it all packed, and start thinking about what I’d do from their stage.

Luckily for me, it’s not a Christmas, Yule, or even Winter theme, so I didn’t have to scramble through my song list to find the most appropriate songs, of which there are, at most, two. I’m grateful my costume closet is organized, as well. The big question was my contacts since I wear them so seldom, but I did find them.

The fundraiser is not, in my experience, well attended, but those that are there are appreciative. I had to follow Miss M’chelle, a beautiful,  young, and amazingly talented belly dancer, but I don’t dance and she doesn’t sing so it worked out. Two song sets, six or so songs (I wasn’t counting), and even the scowlers in the top row were grinning.

Side note: through my involvement with renaissance festivals, I have seen dozens of belly dancing performances; I have never seen a good one until last night. Her control was astonishing.

The highlight of the evening came during my second set, but the setup for this story happened while M’chelle was dancing. During her first performance, Emily (of Bawdily Harm fight group) remarked that someone should tuck a dollar or two into her skirt’s hip band. As Michelle danced her second set, Emily crawled up all sexy-like with a dollar clutched in her teeth, and tucked it in. Beth (the clown) followed. That opened the gates, and the audience got into the act. Michelle must have made an easy $10.

After she finished, I stepped up with my guitar. As a part of my costume, I wear tights with a functioning codpiece (look it up if you need to), and I glanced down past my guitar at it and said, “Ya’ll are welcome to tuck money wherever you like, but I’m making no guarantees what you’ll find when you do.” Big laugh from the crowd, and I figured that was the end of it.

Not so.

As I’m singing an amusing little song called Miss Fogarty’s Christmas Cake I see Emily crawling toward me, dollar in her teeth. I fought mightily to keep my composure as she tucked it into my codpiece. On the next verse, Beth followed. Shortly after, John C. (the Scotsman character of Bawdily Harm)…that nearly broke me, but I persevered and came away $3.00 richer.

I quipped to the crowd, “When I get home and toss my costume into the laundry, my wife is going to question the unexpected windfall and, more to the point, why in happens to be there.”

Yeah, I talk like I write. It’s a curse.

I also tossed myself, so to speak, into the auction hat. A one hour, private performance, $100 value, start the bidding at $40 sort of thing. So, I’ll be performing at Californos on Westport the first Wednesday of March for an organization whose name I cannot remember, but where I believe there will be people with money and influence, and thus more opportunities for paying performances. Fingers crossed, there.

So there it is; it’s now Sunday afternoon. I spent my morning in church, coordinating seven video cameras (including the one I was handholding down by the “stage”) to record the annual semi-organized chaos that is the kids’ Christmas program. I am one tired, but satisfied Bill.

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