Friday, November 20, 2009

Day Twenty: What Would You Rather Be?

While exploring the web for ideas for my blog today, I came across this question: Which would you rather be -- a famous athlete, a great singer, or an important politician?

Childhood memories came flooding back when I thought about my athletic abilities, or lack thereof. Gym class was my nemesis. Oh, it was okay during the early grades where we did synchronized marching, played dodge ball, pretended to be things like trees, crabs, camels, etc., and played games like "Red Rover," engaged in some simple calisthenics, and folk dancing. But in junior and senior high (this was pre-middle school era), sports seemed to take over the curriculum. It was soon evident that I would never be a female Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, or Barry Bonds. There are two things you must do if you're going to hit that ball: (1) keep your eyes open, and (2) don't duck! Occasionally, I would connect with the ball, but by the time I opened my eyes and stood up, I'd usually already been tagged out. Basketball was only slightly better even with my eyes open. Dribbling the ball was fun, but I swear the net moved every time I took a shot to try to make a basket. In track and field, I tripped over the hurdles. Then there was gymnastics. About the only thing there I was good at was the trampoline. So, being an athlete is definitely out. I'll leave that to those who are taller, more fleet of foot, and more coordinated.

As for singing, this is something I did a lot of both in church and in school. In the early sixties, a friend and I taught ourselves how to play the guitar, and led our assembled schoolmates in Hootenannys. For those of you too young to know what I'm talking about, a hootenanny was an informal concert comprised of folk songs. Armed with our guitars, we would mount the stage in the school auditorium and lead the audience in the popular tunes of the day by the likes of Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. It really was a "hoot," and I have very fond memories of those days before Beetlemania took over.

At one point in high school, our music teacher set up an audition for me with a woman from the Metropolitan Opera Company. The thought of studying and singing with that august group filled me with both excitement and anxiety. Then, at the last minute, she had an emergency, the audition had to be postponed, and, sadly, never took place. As an adult, I sang in churches, became a choir director, and sang on local TV a couple of times. I love to sing, but would I want it as a career with all the pressures and publicity? Very definitely, no!

That brings us to "important politician." While I have great respect for those who honestly try to do a good job of representing their constituents (very proud of my Vermont Senators and Congressman), there are just too many who end up in the headlines in less than a favorable light for less than stellar behavior and activities. I'm afraid I wouldn't be very good at playing the "game" of politics, where ideals are traded away for special projects, bills are padded with pork, and the hard-earned money of American citizens is squandered by corporate executives on outlandish salaries, bonuses, and schemes that leave their employees without jobs, healthcare, or retirement benefits.

So, what would I rather be? I'd rather be just what I am: a wife, mother, animal advocate, child sponsor, and, hopefully, a pretty good writer. As a writer, I can use the athlete, the singer, and the politician as characters in my books and hit the ball out of the park, have a platinum album and a world tour, and become President--without all the fishbowl living, the paparazzi, or the negative press, unless I decide to include them. Give me my computer, a blank screen, an idea, and some time to spin a story, and I'm a happy camper. And if something I write is published and other people get to read it, well, that makes me happy, too.

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