December 10, 2009

By the seat of my pants

By nature, I am not a risk taker. I am an overly cautious, neurotically prepared worrywart. That said, contrary to my usual character, I occasionally find myself flying by the increasingly large seat of my pants. It's not a conscious decision; somehow I simply forget my usual hypervigilance and wing it.

Take driving. I'm still a novice, or a n00b as the kids call it nowadays. Now that I've got the whole gas pedal versus brake pedal thing down pat, however, I've really relaxed. This is in spite of the fact that the extent of my practicing is a 30-minute drive to or from my parents' house once every couple of weeks. The same route, over and over again. I could do it in my sleep. Sometimes I nearly do. Yes, I've become that relaxed.

I remember my mother trying to get me to relax when I was a stressed-out high-school student. She would ask me what was the worst thing that could happen if I didn't finish cramming for a test, and she even suggested that I might try taking a test without studying at all just to see how I would do. It must have been hard for her to witness my anxiety attacks whenever I felt that the amount of studying I had to do far exceeded the amount of time in which I had to complete it. And yet, there was that one time in university when I quite enjoyed taking an exam for which I had not studied.

I once risked very public embarrassment by failing to prepare. I had a bit part in the play "Rebel Without A Cause" in high school. Even if you've seen the movie a few times, you are still unlikely to remember that the role of the planetarium lecturer ("There was a planetarium lecturer?" you're thinking) was played by a man of about 60. Uh-huh. I had tried out for Natalie Wood's role but instead I won the role originally portrayed by a man born in the late 1800s. At the time I had no idea what a terrible actor I was. Anyhow, I was also assigned the part of understudy to the main female character. I had never heard of an understudy for an amateur high-school production. Much later it dawned on me that the two drama club teachers were simply being kind to me. They both had cougar crushes on my brother, who was also in the drama club, and I suspect that they wanted to curry favour with him by pretending that his little sister hadn't completely sucked during the auditions.

Rachel Stroud. I believe that was the name of the girl who played Natalie Wood's role in our high-school play. Thank goodness she didn't lose her voice or break a bone or find herself otherwise unable to perform, because I never bothered to learn her lines. I have no idea why.

Me, in my planetarium lecturer finery, bottom right.

I'm going to live dangerously now and post this without proofreading it a third time.