Saturday July 02, 2022
Dreaming That Big Broadway Musical
Here's a dream I had the other night. For some reason, my dreams early this week were fairly vivid:
There was this girl who thought I was smart, and who might’ve been sweet on me, and who gave me this part to do in a play. She said just read these lines, it’ll be easy, and I said sure. (I thought I was smart, too.) And then we get to my line and … it’s in a song? And I have to sing it? I look down and the line is:
Exposes exposes exposes
But how does it go? How do I sing it? The person who feeds me the line, the other actor, the main singer of the song, who’s in costume, is looking at me with panic as I haltingly read it off the paper rather than sing it as it should be sung. As I guess everyone knows it should be sung? Because it’s kind of famous? The big hit number in a big Broadway musical? We’re on the set of an old-timey store, an immigrant shopkeeper’s shop, vaguely Jewish, and maybe we’re being filmed for television or something, and this other actor then picks up his lines of the song, hurriedly now, since I’ve put us behind the pace. But there’s still panic because he knows I don’t know anything. We’re walking through the aisles of the shop, and he’s singing, and others are singing, and then everyone turns to me and I have to sing again. The same line? I look down. Yes, the same line:
Exposes exposes exposes
And after a few rounds of this, as it keeps coming back to me, the other guy, and the other cast members, begin mouthing the words at me, as well as the rhythm, and I begin to get it. And it’s not exposes, as I’d first read it and sung it. It’s exposés. And it goes:
The first two times sung hurriedly, the last time lingering over every syllable.
And while it’s beginning to work, as everyone is kind of pitching in to remake the disaster I’ve made of everything, I’m still hugely embarrassed and keep thinking, “How did I get here? How did we not practice?”
A few things about this.
After I dreamed the above and wrote it down in the middle of the night, then got ready for bed again, I worried that I wouldn't remember the tune when I woke up. I was proud that I'd dreamed up music. I mean, it wasn't Paul McCartney dreaming “Yesterday” but it wasn't bad for me, and I wanted to remember it. So I nudged my wife awake, gave her the Cliff's Notes of the dream, and sang her the chorus. “Will you remember that?” I asked. She nodded with eyes closed. I looked at her and thought, “She won't remember.” Then I realized I could just record it via QuickTime or whatever, which is what I did. A bit later, returning to bed, somewhat mischievous, I nudged her awake again. “Do you remember the song?” I asked. She nodded with eyes closed, 90% asleep, and sang: “Scandal, Scandal, Scaaaan-dal.”
It was only after I wrote down the dream that I realized there was a kind of real life precedent to it. When I lived in Taiwan in my mid-20s, I was private tutor to a Chinese woman who taught at a big ESL school. And she thought I was a great teacher and super-smart, and she may have been sweet on me, and one day or week or something she told me her school needed a new ESL teacher and she asked me to to do it. Are you sure? I said? Didn't you tell me your teachers have to go through like a week's orientation? Because you guys have a certain rote pattern and rhythm to your method? And she said, “Oh, that's just for them, you'll be fine. You won't need it.” Because I was so super-smart, see? So I agreed. And it was a disaster. I didn't know the rules, I was completely out of rhythm with the pace of the class, and at one point, trying to explain the word “dry,” I resorted to the Mandarin, but in my haste I went fourth tone instead of first and wound up saying the “F” word in Taiwanese. Worse, I realized I'd said the “F” word in Taiwanese, and went “Oops” and covered my mouth, while the kids in the class laughed. The parents sitting in the back row weren't too amused by that. I was not asked back.