My first and only time in the limelight was when I was 9 years old in school. I was a sunflower in a play about dogs and flowers. I don't recall the name any more, although I think I still have the playbill somewhere among my old papers.
The gig entailed getting all dolled up in a hot costume. I mean hot as in temperature, definitely NOT hot as in sexy. White tights, white ballet shoes, green skirt, yellow sunflower bodysuit. Our faces were painted yellow with cat stripes. I don't know what the stripes were honestly.
The girls were all backstage and giggling like can-can girls about ready to go out and WoW this crowd. We were ready!
Maestro whistles her shrill whistle and off we go, lining up one by one. My big entrance was coming. Suddenly, I looked out on to the stage. I could see faint outlines of people in the audience. To me it looked like a HUGE amount of people. I had to go to the bathroom! Frantic, butterflies in my stomach churning and making me think I would lose my dinner, I panicked. I ran off stage and told Maestro that I had to go to the bathroom. She was very tall and thin and wore small glasses on the end of her nose, through which she gave me the "look".
Everyone knows this look. German people have it especially well. As they get older they perfect this look as part of the rite of passage of growing old and having survived life.
I am sure my eyes got wide and I was scared and I was so afraid that pee was going to start trickling down my legs. I started dancing from one to the other. Maestro said that it would take too long to undo the costume and I'd have to hold it.
I ran back to my place in line and Gertrein, who was behind me, patted me and said "Look, your family is there in teh front row!" I looked out and after a while staring beyond those bright lights, I could see them smiling. Mum saw me peeking out and winked at me.
Suddenly I was one degree less nervous. Oh I still had butterflies in my stomach and felt the urge to go to the ladies room. But I knew I could do it and ran out on my cue as though nothing was wrong.
I think we had to sing a song and do a little choreographed dance. No one was a disaster, although I don't think any of the class went on to perform on Broadway.
Afterwards I was in the back with everyone while we congratulated ourselves on what an absolutely amazing job we had one and I realized that I didn't have to go to the bathroom any more and that my stomach didn't hurt. The butterflies were gone. I knew at that moment that the "spotlight" is not for me and I would never, ever make myself willingly experience that awful feeling again.
Mum and Pop took me and my sister out for ice cream afterwards.