As soon as the host, Jason “The Local Celebrity” Jacobsen, introduced me to the crowd as a wonderfully gifted dancer I thought I was in trouble and had made a mistake because my specialty performance was singing, not dancing! I could feel the rush of blood drain from my head and I became so light-headed that I had to lean against the backstage railing that was leading up to the stage behind the velvet curtains. I could feel the cold sweat beginning to condense on my forehead. I remember thinking, “Oh no!
My make-up is going to smear! ” My mom later told me that my eyes were as big as apples when I shot a glance at her right after he said that I would be dancing for my special talent section. I nervously walked out onstage with my hands shaking and sheepishly walked up to Jason to whisper to him in his ear, “Sorry Jason, but I like to sing more than I like to dance so I’m going to sing, O. K.? ” He smelled like expensive cologne and his hair had way too much gel in it. I thought he was going to throw me out of the pageant!
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Thankfully he handled it like the good host he was and then he apologized to the crowd for his “egregious” error and then he excitedly announced to the crowd, “We are in for a huge surprise, we are going to be serenaded by song instead of dance, enjoy! ” He looked back at me with a huge, fake smile and delivered the tried and true line, “Alright, the stage is yours, take it away! ” It almost felt like I was in a cheesy teenaged Disney movie. As soon as the lights dimmed and the crowd settled in I knew I was going to be great.
I composed myself, took a few deep breaths and waited for the song to begin. After all, I had practiced I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly hundreds of times before. Of course it was going to be great. Right? I remembered the first time I heard the song at the end of the movie Space Jam with Michael Jordan and I immediately fell in love with the song because of the hope it inspires. I remembered singing it to my parents at the dinner table the night before the pageant and them standing up and cheering for me after I had finished.
Most of all, I remembered waking up in the morning and immediately posing in front of my bedroom mirror, comb/mic in hand, and belting out I Believe I Can Fly before I hopped in the shower and to sing it some more. If you want to know the truth, I don’t even remember singing in the pageant. As soon as it had begun, it was over. All those flashbacks must have occurred while I was on stage. The next thing I knew the crowd was on their feet and clapping and cheering. For me! I couldn’t believe it.
Jason Jacobsen came out from backstage and gave me a wonderful hug and I smelled his god-awful cologne again and then the next instant I was back in the dressing room sitting in disbelief staring at myself in the mirror. I had no clue if I even sang the right words but all I can tell you is that was the greatest feeling I’ve ever had in my whole entire life! It didn’t even matter to me whether I won or not, I had fulfilled my dream of performing my favorite song in front of an audience of strangers, and apparently they even liked it. Who could ask for more? I was really flying…
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