Unlike most folks I know, my first kiss was onstage. It was ninth grade and I'd been cast in a Christopher Durang one-act play, ‘Dentity Crisis, where the stage directions instructed me to kiss the other guy passionately. I was flummoxed about how one could kiss a guy passionately when I didn't even know his birthday.
Like most girls, I'd had plenty of conversations with my friends about how to kiss, but a stage kiss was different. How passionate I should be? Should be a French kiss or not? What exactly did you do in a French kiss? Of course, having never kissed a guy before, I had no idea what exactly a passionate kiss was - other than planting my hands on either side of his face and moving my head back and forth like on a soap opera.
When we finally around to blocking the kissing, it was fast and awkward and nothing to write home about. Definitely not something I should have wasted hours worrying about. But that set up the routine for my lifetime; I’d get cast in a show where kissing was to happen. I’d freak out and spend countless hours discussing the ins and outs of kissing on stage. The kiss would be incidental and life would go on.
The next year, I had to kiss two guys on stage in the play Hayfever. I thought I was a pro at this point. I'd kissed a boy or two since the last time. I knew how these things were supposed to go. Or so I thought. Opening night I had a scene with one guy - the same guy I’d kissed on stage the year before - where he kissed me passionately – yes the stage directions said that - as he told me he loved me. I said something brilliant in response and I sauntered sexily off stage. He followed me off a minute later, dropped his fawning character and proceeded to scream-whisper at me backstage at my apparent stupidity; I had not blotted my lips after applying my many coats of bright red lipstick. The lipstick had not stayed on my lips but rather had smeared all over his. He was not pleased and told me so in many different ways, using many different colorful whispered obscenities. Hard to take a guy seriously when he's shout-whispering cuss words at you with a large bright red lip smear where his mouth should be.
Flash-forward to last Sunday, I’d auditioned for a play that isn’t very well known, one I’d not read but I got a callback email. In the email, the director cautioned us that there was a part in the show that we needed to be comfortable with before committing to the callback; at the top of Act Two, the two actors are naked in bed.
I laugh-snorted out loud when I read that. And then I passed my phone to Husband to read the email and watched as his face went pale. To say he wasn’t comfortable with me naked in bed with an actor would be an understatement. To say his being uncomfortable about my being naked in bed with an actor didn't amuse me would also be an understatement. There is something very wrong with me.
Last show I was in where I kissed a guy, Husband left the theatre before it happened. Even though he knew the guy I was kissing was gay. He blatantly said he wouldn’t come to this one. Or talk about it. Ever.
As Husband wasn’t willing to discuss the possible ins and outs – and no, pun is not intended – of my nakedness on stage with another guy, I had to call, email and text my girlfriends for conferences. I needed input on the possible pros and cons of my jiggly bits out for all to see. Of course I was worried about Husband’s feelings but it would be my jiggly bits out there. Could I handle the exposure? How much grooming would have to happen? I’d obviously have to stop eating right now so that there would be slightly less of my naked self. I realize that’s not very “rah-rah all females are awesome no matter their shape and size” but vanity takes over when there’s a potential for more than one person to be looking at your naked self. Not to mention, some actor having to see and feel it all up close.
My friends and I discussed this actual scenario years ago when we were in our teens and we were all going to be in the movies. We discussed what body parts we would let them film. We wondered how actual sex scenes were filmed. With a certain amount of bravado, as none of us had actually had sex, some of us decided that we would have no problem pretending on screen. But only with certain actors we liked and would want to be naked and pretending with. As if theatre and film works that way. So yes, we discussed this particular situation many, many times.
What we never took into consideration was what our significant other might think about our possible rolling around in bed with someone that wasn’t him. Or that hundreds of people you don’t know might see you naked rolling around in bed and then chat with you in the lobby afterwards. Or, because Nashville is so small, have a conversation with you about the play in the grocery store over the fruit. Or that when you finally get considered for a naked role, you would not be at all happy with your naked self alone in your bathroom, let alone on a stage for all to see and judge.
Years later, the email/text/phone conferences conversations with my friends were very helpful. Yes, I got giggling much like we’d giggled as teenagers. Heck, I couldn’t stop giggling myself. Not at the part, at the thought of my life with Husband if I got the part. There is something very, very wrong with me. But giggling aside, my friends were very helpful and supportive, just like the friends I’d had as a teen. The advice was solid. I had a loose plan of how I might proceed with Husband and with the part.
And then yesterday, I got the “I wish I had a part for everyone.” email and the point was moot.
Husband was thrilled. Though he made sure to tell me I would have been the better choice, he could not stop smiling. I’m not sure what he would have done if I’d gotten the part. He’s always very supportive and complimentary about my work but this might have pushed him too far.
And I’m not sure what I would have done - other than wax every bit I have and stop eating French fries for the foreseeable future. I’m thrilled I don’t have to worry about it right now. That I can push the possibility of nudity on stage off into the hypothetical like we did all those many years ago. And I like that, all these years on from our giggly conversation about what we would and wouldn’t do, it’s still a discussion that needed to be had.
Totally flattered and absolutely terrified is an entertaining way to live.
My name is ej. I'm a girl. I say that because with the short hair and the short initials, folks aren't always sure. More brilliant insights to who I am in About me