Best Day Ever, Y’all!

30 Jul

It was a day like any other day. Only it wasn’t, because of two things:

Thing number one: There was a life-threatening storm raging a war outside. When sitting in the greenroom, you could see the trees literally being blown completely sideways through the tiny, prison-like windows. There were tornado warnings. There was so much rain I could have taken a comfortable bath in the potholes leading up to King’s Island, and used a kayak to get to work. There was lightening, and thunder, and it was basically just like Poseidon saying a nice big “SUCKS TO BE YOU!” to everyone at King’s Island. So, needless to say, driving to work, and then walking into work was not only… moist, but also terrifying. I think I barely escaped death. I was not happy. On the contrary, I was petrified, windblown, and soaking wet.

Thing number two: Our managers decided to host a week of festivities by creating a “Christmas in July!” week. Activities included making candy sleighs for the British Invasion cast, making a Christmas tree out of green painted hand prints, and of course, the traditional secret Santa exchange. So I come into work, soaking wet and totally over it, and everyone is basically freaking out, running around the greenroom going completely crazy because we get our big gifts today. I ask myself, “Is it a full moon or something?” …But then I remember it’s Secret Santa day. Fabulous. So I open my gift, and then I basically have a seizure, despite myself, because inside a Victoria’s Secret bag is an entire collection of dinosaur themed goodies. We’re talking an informational hardcover dinosaur book, a plastic T-Rex, and dinosaur fruit snacks. I think it took a grand total of 13 seconds between me seeing the dinosaur book to me opening and starting to read the entire dinosaur book.

It didn’t take long for DJ to sit down next to me and start asking very informed and intelligent questions about dinosaurs, such as, “Wait… so… if there were all of these plant eaters, and they were all happy, then how did meat eaters come to be? Like, why even have meat eaters evolve if the plant eaters were happy?” and, “Could a raptor take down one of these guys?” (Pointing to a brontosaurus). Suddenly, we hear Kayla yelling from the costume shop.

Kayla: (Extremely angry and annoyed) Um, where are my tights?!
Taylor: (Immediately) I DID NOT TAKE THEM!
(Janelle is doubled over in the fetal position on the couch, clutching her lower abdomen in complete and total feminine agony.)
Janelle: (Very pointed.) I. do. not. have. your tights.
Me: (Not looking up from the dinosaur book) Did you check the laundry?
Kayla: Well DUH. They aren’t there, I don’t understand. This is bullshit. I can’t even find my ditty bag!*
Me: (Checking my tights) Uerhh… yeah, mine say “Carolyn” on the elastic.
Taylor: Well, um Kayla, I took a pair from the VERY back that NO ONE ever wears because mine have runs in them, see the runs? And I took that pair I found IN THE BACK and I’m wearing them, but they have a B on the tag, see? (Gets up to go show Kayla the B on the tag.)
Kayla: UGH!!!
Dallas: Can you guys try to be quiet? (Slams his head down on the table.)
DJ: You okay?
Dallas: I don’t know… I feel like I’m going to throw up.
Kayla: (From the costume shop, yelling over Taylor’s explanations) YEAH!? Well I feel really weird, like my head’s all cloudy and I can’t focus. WHERE ARE MY TIGHTS!?!?!

*Note: I find the term “ditty bag” to be extremely unsettling.

Suddenly, the bass of our preshow music can be heard out in the Festhaus. This means we have a grand total of two minutes to get into our costumes, grab our cowboy hats and microphones, and get into position.

Preshow Music: BUM. BUM. BUM. BUM!
Everyone: DEVIL’S HEARTBEAT, Y’ALL!
Janelle: Nooooooo!!!!!!! I DON’T WANT TO! Don’t MAKEE meeeee….
Dallas: I am literally going to vomit. I can feel it. I’m going to puke all over the stage. Like, just all over the platforms.
DJ: Well if you really do have to vom, just try to not get it anywhere near me, okay?
Dallas: DJ? I have never wanted to punch you in the face more than I do right now.

We all reluctantly get up, get dressed, and get into position. We’re all standing backstage, ready to go on, when suddenly, Janelle and I realize that something is wrong… very wrong.

Me: Where is Taylor?! She’s going to miss our entrance!
Dallas: That stupid bit-
Janelle: NO! EVERYONE just STOP freaking out, OKAY!?!  GOSH. Taylor isn’t even IN this show, Kayla is, and I told Amanda to hold house for a couple of minutes because Kayla still can’t find her-
(The preshow music ends, and there is a moment of heightened silence. We’re all waiting to see if they hold house…. Then-)
Recorded Announcer Voice: CEDAR FAIR ENTERTAINMENT AND KING’S ISLAND-
Janelle: (Literally screaming like a banshee) NOOOOO!!!!!! NO I TOLD THEM! I TOLD THEM TO HOLD HOUSE! I TOLD THEM ALL! I HATE THIS PLACE, I HATE IT!!!! I TOLD THEM NOT TO-
Recorded Announcer Voice: -WOULD LIKE TO WELCOME YOU TO-
Dallas: (Actually about to vomit) Jesus CHRIST Janelle shut the F*CK UP you STUPID B*TCH!!!!
Recorded Announcer Voice: AMMMMERICAAAAAN COUNTRYYY!!!!!!
(We all run onstage)
Dallas: C’mon y’all!!!

Silence. Just, complete and total silence. Not even so much as a clap for our appearance onto the stage. I mean normally we have one person in the back give us a few half-hearted claps, or someone will yell out a short, “Woop!” or even a “Ye haw!” if we’re lucky. But not this time. Oh no. This time? The audience is made of up literally 25 people, at most. Fabulous. There is a group of males in the first few rows, about 12 of them, ages ranging from 10 to 35. Hm, I think. That’s weird. I’m forced to move over a couple of feet to save the formation and make up for Kayla’s missing body. In my head I’m mentally preparing myself for a 2 girl show, trying to re-choreograph and re-block a few things to make the formations look normal.

Then, Layke comes onstage, and I swear to you it is like Justin Timberlake just popped out of a pile of pompoms at a cheerleading competition. The “audience” (AKA the group of 12 males in the first few rows) ERUPTS into high-pitched screams and applause. It’s already a running joke within our cast that Layke is “the best singer” only because during meet and greets, clueless tactless guests will approach us and say things like:

Clueless Tactless Guest: Yes, all of you guys did a great job but YOU! Yes, YOU RIGHT THERE! LAYKE JONES! You, young sir, have the voice of a GOD! My grandmother here used to have a lame leg, but after seeing this show and hearing your glorious voice, she’s been cured! See look!
Grandmother: (Springing out of her electrical wheelchair) I CAN WALK AGAIN! BLESS YOU, LAYKE JONES!!! BLESS YOU!!!!

Keep in mind, things like this happen right in front of the other guy performers. So, needless to say, Dallas is already a little bitter about this fact, and now the American Idol crowd for Layke isn’t exactly helping his, shall we say, putrid demeanor.

Dallas: (Holding his cowboy hat down over his face, muttering) You have GOT to be kidding me…

And so, the opening number plays on, and we’re forced to figure it out as we go. I’m looking out into the audience at our supervisor Amanda like, “What is going on!? Where is Kayla!?” and she’s looking at us singing and dancing onstage, like, “What is going on!? Where is Kayla!?” We all run down the steps from the upper platform to the bottom of the stage, my mind racing on how to fix these formations. We usually have 3 girls and 3 boys, leaving everyone with a partner. But now there will always be one man without a girl… I run to my usually choreographed place next to DJ on stage right, hoping that Janelle will catch on and take Kayla’s place at stage left and partner up with Dallas, leaving Layke center stage by himself to sing his solo (A fact that I don’t think his fan club would be too heartbroken over). But because of their heated “tiff” that literally took place 14 seconds ago, Janelle wants absolutely nothing to do with Dallas, and Dallas would rather slam his hand in his truck five times in a row than spin Janelle into him… And so, Janelle continues to partner with Layke at center stage, leaving Dallas stage left… by himself.

Now, at this point, we have partner choreography. I instinctively hold out my hand for DJ to spin me in, but my hand falls down and lands at my side. It’s like I’ve tried to hold hands with a ghost. I look over to DJ, still singing and smiling, and with my eyes I’m like, “Yo, DJ, dude, what gives?” and he looks back to me being all like, “I tried to salvage this situation by not doing the choreography because I didn’t want Dallas to look stupid over there dancing by himself, but now that I think about it that makes no sense, and I immediately regret that decision.”

We keep going. Everything is a complete mess. I see Taylor in the audience and both hands are clasped tightly over her mouth and her pupils completely wide as if to say, “This is awful… This is awful… Please don’t let any of this be my fault…”

So the opening number ends- “It’s America!”- and the group in the first few rows just starts SCREAMING “OH YEAH! WOOO!!! YAYYYSSS!! YOU GO LAYKE! LAYKE YOU’RE THE BEST! LAYKE YOU’RE AMAZING!!!! LAYKE IS THE WAY!!!” and Layke is literally beaming and panting. To be completely honest, I don’t know if he was even aware that Kayla wasn’t on the stage.

And so, the first video montage starts. DJ and I walk to our positions on stage right and strike our poses, acting like this is the first time we’ve ever seen this video. And then, suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see Kayla creeping onto the stage, excruciatingly slowly… almost as if she goes slowly enough, no one will notice the new blonde girl who just magically appeared next to Dallas. She finally gets into place, and then shoots me a glance that is like, “I give zero f*cks.” I notice she’s wearing a pair of tights with a run in them.

DJ: (Muttering out of the corner of his fake smile) WHAT is going on in this show?
Me: I literally have no idea.
(I look down at Janelle. What I see is truly terrifying. She is sitting on the steps, staring directly down, with the most intense gaze I have ever seen. It’s like she’s trying to activate a secret laser vision power or something…)
Me: Janelle?
(And then… it happens. There was no stopping it, no warning, no inkling that this was about to happen. Janelle BURSTS into hysterical sobbing. We’re talking body heaving, pregnant bride crying about the wrong color wedding cake sobs.)
DJ: Is… is she serious?
Janelle: I. AM. PMS-ing. SO BAD! And… AND DALLAS!!! Dallas was (gasp) SO! (GASP) MEAANNN!!!!
DJ: But like…. She can’t be serious!

Now keep in mind, the ENTIRE audience (all 25 of them, mind you) can see what is going on right now. Janelle is shoving the mouthpiece of her microphone between her legs in hopes of muffling her own noises, but it’s not helping. The result is a scruffling sound of fabric against the mic, plus the half magnified sound of her mental breakdown, blasting through the monitors. Realizing that I’m the only female on this side of the stage, I know that it is time for some serious damage control. I move from my regularly choreographed place and sit down next to her.

Me: (Calmly, through my fake smile.) Hey. Janelle? Listen. Listen to me.
Janelle: But… but… (gasp GASP SOB gasp!)
Me: I know… I know it’s hard sometimes…
Janelle: (Nods her head in hysterical agreement, GASP!)
Me: But remember what we said yesterday about PMS? Hm? Do you? What you’re feeling? It’s not real. Remember? Everything you are feeling is actually false.
Janelle: BUT! But Dallas was… Was just… (SOB!) SOO MEANN TO MEEE WHEN WE CAME ON STAGE AND-
Me: (Intense stage whisper) JANELLE! Hey! We are ON STAGE right now. Okay? GET IT TOGETHER. Okay?
Janelle: But-
Me: Reel it in! Dallas is really sick today, he’s already on edge, and you’re PMS-ing. Okay? It’s just a bad combination. It’s nothing personal. But you know what? Hey. Look at me, Janelle. You know what?
Janelle: (Through teary and bloodshot eyes) …What?
Me: Not your chair, not your problem.

Well, that was just the absolute wrong thing to say. Instead of bursting into more sobs, Janelle then makes the glorious life choice to burst into hysterical fits of LAUGHTER. Oh yeah. Just, ROARING, belly-heaving laughter… like a demonic and scheming Santa Claus laughing openly at a naughty child who has no gifts to open on Christmas morning. My face goes completely blank. DJ looks horrified. He literally has no idea what is going on. I look across the stage. Kayla is gazing off into the distance, not even smiling. Dallas is hitting his thigh to the beat, but he looks seasick. And then there’s Layke, downstage center, completely GIVING it to the group of 12 guys in the front row who are all completely DYING for it. DJ and I exchange a glance.

And it is at this point that DJ and I realize… It’s up to us. This entire show? Everything happening right now? It’s up to us.

The video ends, and Janelle manages to pull it together enough to sing her part of the harmonies. The show then transitions into “My Maria.” At this point, my mind is still reeling because I’m still trying to mentally change the blocking to make it work, but now Kayla is back, so there is really no need for me to be doing that. I try to get a hold of my thoughts: I am Dallas’ partner during “My Maria.” Okay. Good. We can do this.

I run to my spot and hold his hand, acting like I’m Maria and that I’m the best thing since coconut water, and I beam up at him. And then I realize- Dallas doesn’t look so good… Actually, he looks perfectly awful, and terrified. He’s singing, holding my hand and performing with a smile, but his eyes are saying, “I have to vomit, Carolyn. I have to vomit. I am going to vomit. I am literally going to vomit on this stage.”

At the end of the song, he’s supposed to hold my hand up to his mouth and kiss it, and then we are supposed to frolic off stage together like the happily-ever-after couple that we are. But instead of holding my hand up and kissing it, he literally throws my hand back at me, like, “GET THIS THING AWAY FROM ME!” and starts to SPRINT up the stairs off stage. I’m left center stage, completely alone, so I strike some kind of pose, hoping to make it seem like I’m Maria, and I’m okay with the fact that my man just threw my hand away as if I am the most repulsive woman on the entire planet, and then I follow him offstage.

The second I’m offstage, I see Dallas HEAVING into a trashcan that he must have preset. At this point in time, DJ and I cross paths backstage while we’re walking to get to our new positions for our next entrances:

DJ: (Still laughing about Janelle’s emotional breakdown) WHAT is going ON!? WHAT are our lives!?
Me: (Deadpan) Dallas is throwing up.
DJ: …
Me: Looks like it’s a two guy show now. You cover for Dallas, sing his track, and I’ll concentrate on re-blocking the formations. Okay?
DJ: …
Me: GO!

So DJ SPRINTS to the other side of the stage, immediately going into “Fight or Flight” mode. I really have to give him a lot of credit here. He is ready to take Dallas’ place and cover for him. So “I like it, I love it, I want some more of it” is next. I’m trying to work out where the best place for me to go would be, due to the uneven partnering numbers again. I guess I was so preoccupied with those thoughts that I FORGOT that DJ would now be singing for Dallas, who is usually my partner for “I like it, I love it…” So I run onstage, the transition music blaring, expecting to see DALLAS, when low and behold, here comes DJ with a look that says, “I have never performed this song before, and I think I’m going to die.”

Now, this is literally the WORST time to have only 2 guys in the show, because there are supposed to be 3 couples of dancing; happy young country people with one couple on the upper platform, and the other 2 couples on stage left and stage right. I frantically look around the stage to see the damage, and that’s when I see her… Kayla. She goes to hip bump DJ, but because he’s with ME covering for Dallas at center stage, she’s left with no one…

Everyone: I LIKE IT! (Hip bump) I LOVE IT! (Hip bump) I WANT SOME MORE OF IT!

Only, Kayla wasn’t aware that she didn’t have a partner until the very moment her hip goes FLYING off to the side because, obviously, there’s no one there to hip bump with her. So now, not only am I trying to send good “You can do this!” vibes towards DJ, but now I’m forced to watch Kayla dance with an invisible man this entire number. I’m DYING laughing while DJ can barely breathe on a solo that isn’t even his.

But, as always, the show must go on. We transition into the only all-girl number of the entire show, “This Kiss.” Layke and DJ run off stage, and I finally feel okay. We can do this, I think. We can save this show. See? We have three girls, just like we’re supposed to. We can DO this number without anything going wrong! With my new-found determination, I’m completely GIVING it to the 25 guys in the front row. They look at me like I am the lowest creature on the entire planet. Okay. Alright. You know what? I’m not Layke Jones, and that’s fine. I can handle that! I mean So WHAT if they look pissed that Layke is no longer on stage… right? I mean so what if the only other people in this theatre are custodians, and one of them is currently mopping the floor right in front of us? WE’VE GOT THIS! WE CAN DO THIS!

And then… it happens. It just happens. It happens like Janelle’s emotional break down- without warning, without a single sign that this would ever come to pass…

Kayla stops singing.

She just, stops. It’s time for her to sing her solo. She’s supposed to say “Cinderella said to Snow White, how does love get so off course?” but she just… doesn’t. She doesn’t say anything. The music is playing, and Kayla just… isn’t singing.  So then it dawns on her that the music playing is to HER SOLO, and she comes in with a mumbled, “…’Ella saidda Snow White, how does love gesso off couurrrse woah…” She looks at us like, “What the hell just happened to me? Why didn’t I just sing!?” and I look back at her like, “Are you okay?” and Janelle is still just, trying not to cry or laugh into her microphone.

And at this point, I have completely lost all hope.

Another transition, this time into  “Standing Outside the Fire.”Layke Jones returns to the stage with more energy than I’ve ever seen him have. I mean he is literally just GIVING it, 100% to this strange, all-guy fan club that he seems to know, and they are eating it up like sweet Layke pie on a cool summer night…

(Layke Enters)
Fan Club: Oh my GOOOOOOOSHHHHHH ITS LAYKE HOLY BABY MOSES IN A BASKET FLOATING DOWN THE NILE TO ESCAPE PERSECUTION FROM THE PHAROAH HES HERE HES BACK HES SINGING IM CURED IM FREE IM SAVED IM FREAKING OUT OMODFJ EDKLDSKFJOKJFEWOI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As we girls run off stage, I glance up at Layke to give him a “Are you serious with these people right now?” look, and that’s when I see it: He doesn’t have his guitar. He’s supposed to have a mic stand and a prop guitar, but all he has is the mic stand… I literally don’t even know what I did. I think my jaw dropped, at the least, but all I remember is looking on, horrified, at Layke busting out these last minute half-assed Motown moves with a mic stand during an AMERICAN COUNTRY show and his fans just dying for it, completely oblivious…

I run off stage. I see Dallas, clutching the trashcan.

Me: (Breathless) I literally cannot handle what is going on right now! Layke doesn’t even have his effing guitar! Like, what else can go wrong!?!? Are… are you okay?
Dallas: (Grabs trashcan and heaves again.)
Me: Gotta go!

I book it to the other side and make it just in time, my mind reeling because (BIG SURPRISE!!!) we have PARTNER choreography. I’m mentally fast-forwarding the show and realize that if I don’t run center stage, Kayla will- once again!- be holding hands with a no one. I act before I can stop myself. I sprint to center stage. I can do this! I can save this number! Only… as we’re running towards each other, smiles flashing, dresses swishing, Kayla and I suddenly realize at the exact same time that… I’m a girl. Annnnnd so is she.

So! There we are. The newly formed lesbian couple, dancing together downstage center. We both can barely keep it together.

The song ends. Layke’s fan club is practically crying with joy. I go to sing “Suds in the Bucket.” Only, there are no buckets. The boys just… I don’t even know… DON’T bring the buckets onstage? Then Kayla goes to sing “Love Story” by Taylor Effing Swift, and she’s left WITHOUT A PARTNER… and as she’s singing (Yes, she remembered to sing this time!) she just sits on the middle platform. Just sits there. Almost as if to say, “You know what? I’m tired. I almost got killed by a tornado on the way to work today, so I’m going to sit here on this platform. And! I am not going to give a single f*ck away. Not one.”

I’m dancing with DJ, who is still looking around like “WHAT IS MY LIFE!?!?!!” and I make the mistake of glancing at Kayla… The second I see what she’s doing, I’m toast. I just start laughing uncontrollably, and I can’t stop. Because the second I see Kayla PICKING AT HER FINGERS WHILE SHE IS SINGING A SOLO, I lose it. I just can’t contain myself anymore. She is LITERALLY singing, “Romeo save me, they’re tryin’ to tell me how to feel!” while examining the side of her hand, then the platform she’s sitting on, and her facial expression is saying, “Ew, I just put my hand in something sticky, what the hell is on this platform?”

I’m panting like a maniac, praying for this show to end. I look over to DJ, who has been singing every single one of Dallas’s songs, PLUS his own track… He looks completely exhausted. He looks like a beaten dog. And then, before I can stop it, a metaphor pops into my head…

This entire show, this entire “situation”? It’s like this:

I am pulling a truck with two missing wheels (One representing Dallas, one representing Taylor who is, by the way, still sitting in the audience with her hands over her mouth in complete horror…). The truck represents our show. I am pulling the truck with a rope, by myself. DJ is, of course, behind the truck, PUSHING as hard as he can. Dallas is sitting in the driver’s seat of the truck, puking into a Krispy Crème sack. Janelle is sitting shot gun, crying hysterically and shooting Dallas evil glares in between sobs. Kayla is in the bed of the truck, looking up to the stars while smoking a cigarette. And Layke is standing ON TOP of the truck with his mic stand, completely GIVING it to the mob of fans walking slowly behind us, who are changing, “LAYKE! LAYKE! LAYKE! LAYKE!”

The second this image enters my brain I’m lost. I just can’t stop laughing. I’m laughing so hard I’m crying. I literally just want this hot mess to be over…

And, like clockwork, it is. We make it through the 9/11 section without anything going too terribly wrong, and we do the reprise of “IT’S AMERICA!”

Everyone (except Dallas): IT’S AMERICA!
(Layke’s fan club is, at this point, practically flipping their table over in passion. Layke is beaming with complete and total performance victory. He really is just so pleased with himself. DJ and I are left center stage, panting, sweating, and almost crying.)
DJ: We… we did it…
Me: We did it DJ!
DJ: We… we made it through! We made it through that show!

Standing in a crowd of Layke’s fans who are ignoring us, we hear Layke ask Amanda a question:

Layke: Hey. Hey! Hey Amanda? Hey, Amanda, would you mind taking a picture of me with my youth group?
Amanda: Sure, Layke.
Kayla: (Muttered) You have got to be effing kidding me…

And just when we thought it was all over, just when we thought we were safe, and warm, and could take a minute to breathe… we see AJ the Sound Guy go SPRINTING out of the sound booth with a towel over his mouth.

Me: AJ, are you going to…?
AJ: Bluuubbbguurrrffffffffff….
(AJ runs backstage)
DJ: He did not just vomit into that towel.
Me: …I think he did.
DJ: No. No, he actually didn’t.
Me: He totally just vommed into that dirty towel.
DJ: Nope.
Me: (Laughing) Yeah, he did.
DJ: No. He didn’t. That is false.
Me: AJ just threw up into a towel while running from the theatre.
DJ: But like… what just happened?
Me: AJ just threw up into a-
DJ: NO I mean, like… that entire show. WHAT just, happened?
Me: …I don’t know.
(There’s a moment where we look across the way to see Layke beaming at his fans who are hugging him and saying things like, “I just can’t BELIEVE how good your voice is!!!!”)
DJ: Well… Show 2 is done.
Me: …Only 3 more to go.
(Beat.)
DJ: (Weighing the pros and cons) Do you want to go check on Dallas?
Me: Not really.
DJ: Yeah, me either. I can’t really handle vomit.
(Beat)
DJ: …Do you want to go look at your dinosaur book?
Me: DJ? There is nothing that I would want to do more than that right now.
(We exit.)

The. Fricken. End.

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