Monday, April 28, 2008


"I Commend My Spirit"


The thing about being in one's forties is that there's a humbling amount of perspective.

As I look behind me and see the wee charmers nipping at my heels and then look ahead of me and glimpse the sometimes quick and easy slide to the grave, it's hard to have a big-picture sense of importance, consequence, bangin'itude.

But then I remember that night in high school when I went to my dad's college (he didn't actually own it outright; it was more of a time share dealie) to sit on a folding chair out in the middle of the football field.

You might be thinking this was my way of lodging a protest against the game of football--of me staging a sit-in to make the point that human kitchen appliances deliberately slamming themselves together under the guise of "strategy" is a proposition approximately as ludicrous as Owen "Pass the dutchie to the lefthand side" Wilson playing a former soldier of fortune in Drillbit Taylor.

However, that night in the early 1980's, I perched upon a folding chair out on the football field, anticipating something far more exciting than the prospect of getting cuffed and having my limp, Martin-Sheeny body dragged protestingly off to jail. You see, I was poised on the turf to watch Billings, Montana's first ever out-of-the-doors performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. It was a premiere event I was attending at Rocky Mountain College, there under the big spotlights.

On the 50-yard line.

In my Flashdance-ripped sweatshirt and patterned overalls.

Then the lights fell, and first, there was nothing.

It was like a slow, glowing dream--a dream that my fear seemed to hide deep inside my mind.

What a feeling.


Wait a minute. That feeling wasn't me having rhythm now, nor was it Mary Magdalene despairing that she didn't know how to love the sandal-clad superstar that was Jesus. Nay.

That feeling was my soft contact falling right off my eyeball and landing on my cheek.

Christ on a sports field. The show had just started, and there I was, grabbing my contact off my face, balancing it on my finger, trying not to drop it in the dusk. Within minutes, as I considered and then rejected a sprint to the bathroom (if I missed Judas' entrance, I'd completely lose track of the chain of events that would ultimately lead to Jesus pushing a big rock away from a cave entrance, rubbing his eyes blearily as he peeled the shroud from his body, picking up a few Cadbury eggs from beneath the bushes for sustenance, and then inventing Rolling Rock beer), I watched my contact lens teeter on my finger, buffeted by the wind, as it started to dry out.

What to do? What to do?

With less thought than I had applied to choosing potato cakes over curly fries at the Arby's earlier that day, I popped the thing into my mouth.

For the next two hours, from Gethsemane to King Herod to that cross business, I sucked gently on the lens. Neither speaking to my companions nor shouting "bravo" after the finale, I focused on keeping the lens nestled in its cocooning little cheek bed.

I remained quiet--some might have assumed reflective--all the way home, until I dashed into the basement bathroom, snatched up a bottle of saline solution, and popped that baby out of my mouth, shouting, "Gag, but that was illin'."

Due to my fortitude, though, the next day at school, when my friends asked me how I'd enjoyed the show, I was able to look them directly and clearly in the eye and report, "Actually, I only saw about half of it. But the righthand part of the stage looked great. So did the actors who stood there."


And so whenever I wonder if my life has importance, if I'll leave any mark, if there has been worth to this puny existence of mine,

I remember that night and the example I set for humanity.

Sure, Jesus was bitchin' out there on the football field, but I, with my admirable unflappability, was schweet to the max.

23 comments:

Diana said...

Hah! More in common than deer and window-washin'. Can't tell you how many hours an errant contact lens has been cheeked by me (although mine were hard lenses and, therefore, a bit more sturdy, but prone to pop out at most inopportune times) during various performances. Something about the sitting staring unblinkingly at the stage while the air circulates unimpeded past my shrivelling corneas.

And yet I can't imagine doing Lasik.

I've never actually seen JCSS, thought. I've been deprived.

lime said...

LOL! ya know back in the day i witnessed both my mother and my cousin "rewet" a lens in their mouths and pop it right back on their eyeball. i'm a lens wearer and i daresay i don't think i could do that. i;d have to sacrifice it's little plastic life. i am relieved to learn you used saline prior to reinsertion. truly i am.

i'm also really relieved nothing in the production or on the drive home caused an inadvertent gulp thus sending the lens on a trip through your GI tract. though it would make for kind of an interesting magic school bus style post. "come along class! today we're toboganning thru jocelyn's descending colon!"

Em said...

What an excellent story! Mostly I find it funny that you didn't run to the restroom because you might miss part of the "chain of events". After all, it is a pretty similar story every time...so I bet you would be able to catch up. LOL

(P.S...good to be back! Missed ya!)

pistols at dawn said...

"Gag, but that was illin'." Even in your moment of pain, you could still quote Keats.

You truly are an inspiration to us all.

chelle said...

Wow that is perseverance!

Mother of Invention said...

You're hilarious! I'd never have thought of that!
Contacts give me the heebie-jeebies although I can give myself about 6 needles a day of insulin.

flutter said...

"Christ on a sport's field" is a curse I shall now adopt as my own.

Thank you for your public service to my vernacular.

Shari said...

I remember when I was in third grade, a teacher's helper had one of her contacts off to the side of her iris area. That was the first I've heard of contacts, too. She was trying to put it back on the right spot. Kudos to everyone for using contacts. Hubby only wears them once in a great while.

Dorky Dad said...

Man, I hate contacts. I hate glasses, too. But nothing in the world results in stories like that one. Except contact lenses. Nutty, stupid things.

Mother Theresa said...

Hey, I've done that too, albeit not during Jesus Christ Superstar. I once even put it back in my eye, since it was that or go hours with it in my mouth, and we hadn't had dinner yet. So, it was my eye or my stomach, guess which won out? But miraculously I didn't go blind. Nothing happened. Well, I did see blurry until I got home, but that's a small price to pay for a good dinner.

Glamourpuss said...

I'm not convinced you missed much - the left hand side of the stage is notoriously 'difficult' in that particular biblical musical extravaganza.

Puss

Claudia said...

Is it bad that the flashdance type sweatshirt still makes me want to wear it again and again, even if no one is looking??? That was HAWT! Leg warmers, however, not so much.

August said...

Your A-Ha moments make Oprah's seem like Huh moments.

I actually had a Flashdance sweatshirt -- to match my teased fro.

August

seventh sister said...

So do you carry a little bit of solution with you now?

Say It said...

Stories like these are why I only wear glasses.

SQT said...

Two hours? How did you not swallow the thing?

I too had the Flashdance sweatshirt. And the legwarmers.

AmyTree said...

I am most impressed that you didn't swallow it!
Funny enough, I suffered - blinded - through a production of JCS a couple of years ago, and later worked out that I had put my left contact in backwards/upside down/whatever... I don't think I would have been (wo)man enough to keep it in my mouth for the whole show though, and it certainly would have cramped my gin & tonic later on!

Maddy said...

Before I worse lenses a pal of mine had the old 'hard' lenses. When they fell out she'd spit on them and pop them back in! Vile!

When I became a grown up person with an income I bought soft lenses, hopeless as that was before 'toric'.

Now I stick to the bifocals [and a bit of spit and polish]
Cheers

Tai said...

Mmmmm, contacts and JCS. On a football field. In a flashdance shirt.
How do you wind all those things together!?! Your talent for it humbles me.

Mother Theresa said...

Got your lenses in? Good. Tag, you're it my brilliant friend.

steve said...

From here on out, I'll take comfort knowing that when we're at a meeting together, you will unflappably handle any moment of crisis that should arise.

Jocelyn said...

Steve--

Too bad you missed the meeting the other month when Kelli got all sad and defensive and huffy...and she accused Jerry of attacking her and treating her with disrespect...and then she tried not to cry, so, quite unflapped, I stepped in and summed up her stance and pointed out how it actually dovetailed with what Jerry was implying, which caused Kelli, for a week afterwards, to declare me her hero. Then they tried to hug, and Damon and I had to look at each other and holler, "NO HUGGING. NO HUGGING AT DEPARTMENTAL MEETINGS."

You gotta come back from sabbatical, my friend. We have way big fun that you're missing out on.

HeatherAnn Fragglehead said...

I probably would've forgotten the contact was in my mouth, and I probably would've bitten/swallowed/spit out the lens.

Kudos!