I Am Not, A Puppet

Here’s what I remember: I remember sitting down in the hallway outside the audition room, and raising my eyes to find a sea of other girls. These other girls were cute and blonde and smiling. I was only 7 but I was well aware that I was none of those things.

As I cast a spectacled eye around the waiting crowd I saw that each little bundle of perfection was doing something. One was practicing pirouettes, one was playing violin, one was rehearsing acrobatic tumbles, one was singing … I felt a sturdy ball of dread lodge itself in my throat. Apart from the fact that my plump, brunette, glasses-faced self clearly stood out like a sore thumb, I now realised that I was completely unprepared. I looked up at my smiling, beautiful Mother who was telling me not to be nervous darling. I looked back at the practicing dollies. I looked at the blank wall. As my Mother explains it, “you could see the little cogs turning in your little head”. I hadn’t prepared anything. Not a thing. I felt naked, only far less entertaining.

I suddenly realised that whilst I had spent an inaudibly large amount of time imagining how fabulous I would be once I’d got this part and became famous and was in movies and had people asking for my autograph and Frank eating his words about me being a fatso loser … I hadn’t spent any time at all actually thinking about what I had to do in the audition. As soon as my teacher had suggested the audition, I just informed my Mother that I would die horribly if she didn’t take me, then I mentally skipped to the bit where I was awesome.

As I sat outside that audition room, I remember thinking, ‘No one told me I’d need a talent!’ … and then deciding that I’d been had, deliberately. I felt that indignant rage that only the irrational can. I felt set up. I hadn’t been told. This was a cruel joke on the part of “them” (whoever they were) to make me look like an idiot. I wasn’t going to stand for it, I knew that much.

When we were called into the audition room, my Mother and I found 2 chairs facing a panel of people who sat at a long desk. My Mother took one seat. I refused to take the other seat, instead climbing up onto her lap, and sitting on it – facing her, with my back to the panel. There was a long moment of awkwardness where my Mother tried to get me to sit on my own chair. And failed. Then it began. The panel tried to get me to perform. They tried to get me to talk. They tried to get me to look at them. And failed.

I don’t know how long this went on for, but it seemed like a long time. My Mum was turning various shades of beetroot as they all tried to coax me into speaking. When I remember it, I see it from their perspective: the back of my little, obnoxious head, and my Mother’s lovely, apologetic smile as they asked, “Georgia, do you know any jokes? … Have you got any stories you could tell us Georgia?”

Finally, 100 questions from the panel and 100 non-responses later I said the only words that were to leave my mouth in that room. Still facing my Mother, with my back to the panel, I boomed, “I am not, a puppet!” … I said it just like that, with the pause between “not” and “puppet”.

Oh yeah, I might not have had a talent like those other b*tches outside, but I sure knew about pausing for effect. Take that! … There was a very long, very silent pause. I felt my Mother’s chest start to spasm and saw her lips pucker as she did her best to suppress her hysterical laughter. I remained stoic, back to the panel. My Mother lifted me up and apologized to that audition panel, who all said “Never mind” without needing to suppress any amusement at all. To this day, it’s one of my Mother’s proudest stories of my youth. Her daughter, 7 years old, and thoroughly disgruntled.

A great ending would have been me getting the part. A little up yours to those do-gooders in the hall. However, the truth is, I was a snotty, righteous little kid who didn’t have any talent and had the audacity to be annoyed at the rest of the world for it. There were no less than 20 lovely little girls outside who had been practicing their hearts out. Why in the hell would I get the role? I certainly wouldn’t have given it to me.

Due to the fact that I am innately lazy and eternally pissed that I was not born a savant, the feeling I had in that audition when I was 7 is something that re-surfaces frequently. Indeed I am still that snotty little punk of a kid. To this day, when I find myself facing a deadline or impending due date, I get annoyed. Resentful. Sure, I’ve actively procrastinated to the point of ruining my chances, or I’ve idiotically assumed that just turning up will be sufficient to land me the applause, but I’m annoyed at the world when I stand in front of my consequences. Yes, I may know that I’ve got a column due, and that I have one due every month, but each time I sit down to write it and find that it doesn’t flow out of me like hot breath, I am indignant.

Every time I’m stressed about my ability to perform I hear my own 7-year-old voice in my head, “No one told me I’d need a talent!” … In these instances, I find the only way to justify myself is by thumbing my nose at the world and exclaiming my response aloud: “I am not, a puppet!”

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I Am Not A Puppet

Comments

4 Responses to “I Am Not, A Puppet”
  1. avatar Jade says:

    I still recall my first Jazz dance lesson at the old Richmond School of Arts and the absolute dismay I felt at not being able to do the splits, a one handed cartwheel or a round off ‘just like that’ …. what do you mean I need to practice? … I gave up there an then.

    • avatar Georgia Keighery says:

      Oh tell me about it Jade! I started learning not one, but 7 different instruments as a kid. One by one I gave them up as I realised they ALL required practice … Not, a puppet!

  2. avatar krazy_kate says:

    Georgie, your stories always make me smile. One of your many talents.

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