Spotlight is a yellow veil in front of my eyes, cheap net hanging from a bad hat, a Tiffany lampshade on my head. I stand at the podium reading to a good-sized audience at Someday Lounge, worrying that my writing is cliché, worrying that I'm mixing my metaphors.
In these new girly shoes with the high heels, I was afraid I'd trip coming up to the mic, but it's my tongue that's been tripping. I keep reading. If I look confident, maybe no one will notice.
Now the sentence that does its slip-on-a-banana-peel out of my mouth contains words that aren't even on the page. My pronouns are the Three Stooges, running around, and I is where you should be and you is where he should be, and maybe that's more Abbot and Costello than the Three Stooges, but I keep reading. If I look confident, maybe no one will notice.
Now I'm back on track, and things are going along fine. I read a line and the audience laughs. But as I read, I'm thinking about the experiment I decided to conduct prior to this event, where I would not let myself get all over-the-top about practicing like I always do, how I'd just read my piece through once or twice and then get up there and perform it, like every other writer does - how this was not a successful experiment.
My dry tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
Now Shemp does that thing where he pokes the V of his fingers into my eyes, and my words take a tumble again.
"Can't I just read this?"
Did I say that out loud?
Maybe no one will notice.