Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Maybe I Hit My Head Harder Than I Thought...

Last Friday, I resolved to go to the doctor about my bump on the head. I think I just got tired of people asking me if I had been and then being shocked when I said, "No." The popular opinion seemed to be that a fall of that nature, coupled with a perpetual headache and near constant tiredness was cause for concern. I didn't disagree, mind you. I just didn't think it was serious enough that they were going to do anything about it. My self-diagnosis was: mild concussion. I've seen enough medical drama to know the signs. Still, the nagging finally got to be more annoying than the headaches, so I went. The doctor spent about five minutes with me. She twisted my head in a variety of directions. She shined lights in my eyes. She poked my bruise to make sure it hurt. Then she gave me her diagnosis. Mild concussion. She told me I'd have a headache for a couple of weeks, but should suffer no lasting ill effects. If I experienced any blackouts, nausea, bleeding from the eyes, or speaking in tongues, I was to come back. Fine.

I headed off to work where I received great sympathy from my boss. "You're one of those people that should wear a helmet at all times, like those kids." He laughed heartily. The day went by more or less uneventfully and I headed off to the theater to get ready for the show. The wife and kids weren't going to be coming, and I didn't have anyone from work coming either. No biggie. I'd still have fun. I was a little bummed that I hadn't had many people come up for the show. Whatever. The audiences have been good and the cast has been great. I don't need to know anyone in the audience to entertain them.

So, I went through my preshow routine. I did vocal warm-ups. I stretched. I put on make-up. I socialized with the rest of the cast. Then came the call. Places! I open the show. There is a brief intro in which I do a little dance ending with a couple of bell kicks, one left and one right. Then I go down on one knee and take my hat off pointing at the audience member three seats in from the stage right end of the center seating bank. Kind of a "Ta-Daaa!" without words.

So, I hustled out to my spot. Waited for the preshow announcements and the house lights to go out. Music! I made my entrance. I did my moves. My character is allowed to break the fourth wall, so I started surveying the immediate audience to decide who I was going to interact with. Kick. Kick. Hat. That was the point when I thought that perhaps my concussion was worse than I originally thought. Had to be. My hat was pointing right at my Dad! But he was in Massachusetts. And there was my Mom. And why were L and the kids not at their cookout? Everyone was sitting there grinning at me.

I'm told the look on my face was pretty priceless. I wish they had gotten a picture. I can only imagine. L has since asked what was going through my head at that point. Normally, I weight a beat or two before going into my lines. I try to see who reacted the best to my dance and deliver the opening line to them. Friday night, it seemed like an eternity before I went on. Here is what I was thinking: "No way. NO. WAY. Holy crap. I don't believe this. NO WAY! HOLY CRAP! How did they? Where did they? NO. WAY." I blame the concussion for my not having deeper thoughts. I'm milking that bad boy for all it's worth. After that, I continued the opening. But they had succeeded in throwing me off my game a bit. I had this strange grin on my face that didn't really fit the lines so much. I pulled it together after the opening solo, but it wasn't easy.

I made my first exit and immediately ran to one of my costars, the one that I kiss. "My Dad is in the front row! From Boston!" I whispered as loudly as I dared.

"I know," she told me.

I went to the guy who played my boss. "My Dad is..."

"I know," he cut in.

I had to do a cross. So I didn't have a chance to interrogate anyone else. I crossed and ended up behind the upstage curtain. I went to yet another costar. Surely she hadn't heard. "Gretchen! You'll never guess..."

"I know."

"Does everybody know except me?!?"

It turned out pretty much everyone did know. But they hadn't known for long. My wonderful wife did an amazing job of keeping me out of the loop on this. She dashed into the theater at 6:30, a mere 15 minutes before I arrived. She explained that she had a reservation under a false name and told the folks there what was going on. They let her save the appropriate seats so she could have the desired affect, a privilege normally reserved for groups of 10 or more. She wanted to be able to sneak them in when I wasn't looking. Then she dashed out through the alley and went several blocks out of her way to get back to the car, just to be sure she wasn't seen.

The story is even funnier than that, because they were convinced I knew and was toying with them. They held this belief up until they saw the look on my face. You see, I had called my Dad on Thursday night and Friday morning. No reason. Just to chat. Hadn't talked to him much lately and I figured I ought to pass along the concussion news. Well, he was kind of busy Thursday, so I told him I'd talk to him later. Friday morning was later. The only thing was, he was in California already for both calls. And both my kids were with him. So, he had to think and act fast to get me off the phone.

The cookout was also a fabrication, as if you didn't know. She and the kids were out to dinner with my folks. So was the sleepover at the triplets' house the night before. They were actually at the hotel with my folks. I gave them some added panic by calling my sister Sara-Anne during my commute home. She, too, was convinced that I was fishing for information. She became especially worried when I got home and wondered aloud why L's car was in the driveway if they were at a cookout. In truth, I thought that the kids had misbehaved and they had been forced to come home early. I excused myself and went to check. Sara-Anne immediately placed a panicked call to Dad who relayed the gaffe to L. Thinking quickly, she called me and asked me if we had any Benadryl. Her allergies were acting up because she was in Susan's car. Susan has a big van and it didn't make sense to bring two cars. The Benadryl also served to delay me a little as I had to make an extra stop on my way to the theater. Disaster averted.

I'd like to think that if I had been clear headed, I would have picked up on the signs. My Dad meeting with a customer at 8:30 at night is not unusual by itself. That, coupled with the sleepover out of the blue, coupled with him not calling back, coupled with the car being left in the driveway, coupled with the call about the car mere minutes after I wondered about it to my sister... Can that many things be 'coupled'?

At any rate, my weekend turned out great, concussion and all!