Aunt Shirley dropped me off at the Confederation Centre at around 7:30am, and I was greeted by some really friendly security guards. The second one asked me if I was excited or nervous as he put the red auditioneer wriststrap on my left wrist. (Come to think of it, they should ask people, "Are you left handed?" and put the strap on the right wrist when they say yes.) Congenial treatment like this really helped put me at ease, because just a few minutes ago, driving into Charlottetown in all-too-light traffic, I was nervous as heck and didn't want the car ride to end. I was tempted to skip the audition entirely, and I was only going because I knew that I'd be haunted with regret if I didn't.
I sat in the atrium, where a small but dedicated crowd had gathered. We had chairs, which of course did us more good than I realize, considering how long we were there. Off and on, I was able to read my book, Helliconia Spring, and I also made fast friends with some really cool people. This happened much more readily than it did last year, as Idol 2004 was pre-Dale Carnegie.
Prince Edward Island, despite all the talk about it being a "small" province, and the persistent myths about everyone knowing each other, is really a small province where everyone knows each other. For the first round of auditions (Tier One), I was in the lineup with a really cool guy who told me about the independent video productions he was involved in and the stuntwork he did. He was from Fortune, so I did the usual checking to see if we had mutual acquaintances. No dice, he just came in from Ontario a few years ago. Ah, well. So we talked, and then Aunt Shirley came back to see how I was doing. She took note of my fast friend, then introduced me to Jon Haines. This was too funny; all this time I was talking to the guy who was in a play with Uncle Shane, whom Aunt Shirley had been telling me about for days and said that I ought to meet. And I was right next to him in line, 07977.
Another "I-know-people-you-know": I met a girl named Alison from Guysborough County, Nova Scotia who goes to Saint Mary's Academy (a public 8-12 school), and it turns out she's a really good friend of Elise, my mother's brother's wife's sister's daughter, whose family lives on the same driveway as my mother's parents in Sherbrooke. We had Christmas Dinner at Elise's house this past year. Her boyfriend gave me a winning ($2) scratch-and-win ticket when I walked by him in the hall on the way to (you'll see in a few paragraphs). I must cash that in, but not before I think of something nice to do for a stranger with the $4 in kind-gesture money I have built up so far.
So anyway, I had my Tier One, and I sang "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate" and "I Am A Rock." And, wonder of wonders, I was asked to stay behind! I got a yellow ticket! Me! I was on top of the world!
This euphoria settled down during the ensuing four-hour wait, but I stayed in good spirits, met more facinating people, and read a lot of my book, which was getting better every chapter. Eventually, I found myself in the lineup for the Tier Two auditions, which are done individually in front of a television camera. Here, they were being done on the Confederation Centre Mainstage. Wow! I hadn't been on that stage in over twelve years! Even just stepping into the dressing room hallway brought back a flood of memories. When I was little, I played the Mayor of Munchkin City in a production of "Wizard of Oz." Rehearsing, singing, dancing... wow, it was quite a life and I got to miss a lot of classes. =)
I stood on the Mainstage in front of a producer, and I sang my song.
After "Pirate": "We've heard that song once before, but that was definitely the more rousing version. You sang it with gusto."
"Why, thank you kindly."
After "Rock": "Good, good. Well, thank you very much for coming out, William. That was an excellent performance. I'm not going to put you through to the next round because your singing voice is not the quality we're looking for, but your performance was one of the most entertaining we've seen, and we'd like to put you on television."
I was in a state of bitersweet esctasy as I left the dressing room area, saying my goodbyes. I was happy to hear that I'm a good performer, even if my voice is, shall we say, "unique," as Uncle Shane puts it. I was relieved to be finished for the day. I knew in my heart that I wasn't a classical singer with a clear, melodic voice. Generally, I'm happy if I can be on key. =) The emotion at the forefront was the sad reality that I probably wasn't going to see my fast friends ever again. They were so cool. They made me feel good because they were interested in how I did.
Uncle Shane and I then went out for Greco, and then we went to his friend Randy's to say hello and watch The Golf Channel pundits talk about The Masters. A satisfying evening.
START TIDBIT Today I went to the Souris Hospital and saw Dr. Bruce. Anyone who's had the privilege of sitting beside me for the past four months might, if I were to have had a weak moment, know something about the pressure problems plaguing my right ear canal. (The constant flexing of my jaw muscles to relieve the pressure gives it away. You wouldn't want to sit next to me on an airplane - during ascent and descent, I have to do it non-stop.) In August 2004, the problem was a (stop reading now) wax build-up deep inside the canal, which was cured in ten seconds with a syringe, water, and a well-placed towel. This time, it's a sinus irritation that's making me build up fluid in the passage inside and beyond my ear drum. No wonder the doctor in Poland wouldn't flush out my ear! There really wasn't any wax there like I was convinced there was. I had just figured maybe Poland had lower ear hygiene standards or something. So this is a reminder, if one is needed, that medical services by translation can be bad for your health! The antibiotic eardrops (cost in Poland: 1.59zł, or 75¢) prescribed by the Polish doctor were meant to address a problem I didn't even have. Now I have some Nasonex (cost in Canada: over $30) that I will use daily for many weeks, and some medical assurance that my problem will go away with sustained treatment. Hooray! END TIDBIT
Tomorrow is Communication Day. I'll dedicate the day to writing to my friends in Poland, who deserve better from me. There are way too many people I haven't even e-mailed yet. I'll also get some photo chores done tomorrow, and you'll be able to see the pictures I took yesterday. And The Masters will be on the TV. What a great day! Maybe I'll get more of my book done, too.
Ruminations from my last Idol experience, featuring a walk-on by _juju_, among other things:
April 23rd, 2004 - I am no one's Idol
April 26th, 2004 - 01366, Thou Art Kaput