The Perfect Role Model
It turns out I kind of hate attention.
To set this story up, I'm going to start off by stating two relevant facts:
1) When I was younger, my mother was the type to tell me very often how beautiful she thought I was (as many other parents did with their children, I'm sure).
2) Like (hopefully) many other kids did, I went through a legitimate phase where I wanted to be famous.
"The Perfect Role Model"
It turns out I kind of hate attention.
You know how malls have those salespeople who flag you down and try to get you to give them your time through some form of sorcerous, psychological manipulation?
Yeah, my family and I tended to run into those often. We usually did what most people do: avoid eye contact, keep walking, hope they go away...those sorts of things (no offense to anyone who works a promotional booth in a mall of course...). However, we managed to get reeled in every once in a while.
This particular time involved snazzy adults and a makeshift studio put together for professional photo shoots. Being a kid who was interested in becoming a celebrity, my attention was instantly drawn to them. I ended up dragging my mom over to where the fancy-looking people were and making her ask them what they were doing.
"We're setting up a talent and beauty contest," they had informed us.
Of course, I wanted in.
They ended up giving us a few fliers and telling us to return the following day for a photo shoot.
The next day, my mother did my hair and picked out my outfit. We showed up to the same spot, and I took my photos. Surprisingly (not really), we had to pay in order to get these photos mailed to us in the future. Totally fine. All part of the process. However, what they told me next gave me second thoughts.
Apparently, I had to showcase an actual talent in the talent show?
Before I'd started writing, I wasn't exactly the type of kid one would call talented. I'd never really stuck with anything long enough back then. My parents tried; it's not their fault that I quit ballet, quit piano, quit swimming, was removed from my Tae Kwon Do class (don't ask), etc. So I spent that night stressing over what nonexistent talent I could pretend to have two weeks from then.
Before the actual talent show, however, there was a segment where the contestants simply had to introduce and give a few interesting facts about themselves.
This was the worst.
I don't even remember what the other girls said because I killed the memory, but they were all great, compared to what I went and did.
For the most part, I tried to stay true to myself. What did I like to do that I may have be able to demonstrate?
Laugh. I enjoyed laughing. I'd say that.
It was a terrible idea.
"Hi, everyone. My name is Taylor, I'm in the seventh grade... and I like to laugh."
"Hello there, Taylor! You seem like a swell person, anddd you said you like to laugh! Would you like to go ahead and laugh for us??"
*loading the most pathetic phony impersonation of a laugh you could possibly imagine*
I'm just going to attempt to type this out phonetically. Yeah.
Don't know what that was?
No one else did either.
*silence in audience and judge panel*
All of the sudden I just wanted to be off that stage and away from all the eyes because I just felt so talentless and exposed and wow I couldn't even laugh-
The silence ended rather quickly, albeit it felt like ten thick minutes of cringing and painful reflection on what I had just done. The judges allowed me to exit the stage gracefully, although they couldn't fool anyone. That was not a "great job". Thanks, though. I appreciate it.
I honestly did not want to step foot back in that competition after that day, but I had been invited to return (for some inexplicable reason), so my mom brought me back.
I thought of a "talent" to share, which was playing the violin (thanks to a mandatory music class at a charter school I attended). My father and I went out and rented a violin, and I practiced playing a little every day until it was time to go back to the mall.
I realized they were redoing the introductions and I sure as hell was not re-attempting that laugh, so I thought of a better answer for my hobby.
"Hi, my name is Taylor. I'm in the seventh grade and I like to have fun."
That would teach them! Because how was I supposed to have fun onstage? Right? :D
...Yeah, no. The answer was probably the lamest I could give, so I ended up embarrassed all over again, but at least I didn't have to make as much of an ass out of myself this time.
Afterwards, I proceeded to play my lovely, screechy rendition of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and exit the stage. And then jumped out of a window.
I was not called back to the competition.
And I no longer wanted to be a celebrity.
Later on that day, an elderly couple had run into me when I was leaving the mall and told me I did a wonderful job. I was never more grateful for kind souls.