As my alarm clock honked for dear life, I sluggishly made my way out of bed and zombie-walked to the bathroom to muster some sort of quick hygiene routine. I made the freshman mistake of signing up for morning classes so the first class of my college career started at 8 a.m. When I finally finished getting ready, I grabbed my oversized and overstuffed backpack and made my way to the bus stop with optimism I could only compare to a single worker ant trying to drag a dead garden snake.
I told myself I wanted to branch out, meet new people and make a name for myself; the typical sitcom aspirations for college. In the spirit of branching out, I decided to join a spoken word poetry club. I dabbled in poetry in high school, and thought maybe I should take my amateur skills to the next level. How foolish I was.
My first open mic night performance was one for the books. The night before, I rehearsed my poem over and over and over again. So much, I didn’t have a chance to enjoy a luxurious bowl of SpaghettiOs that I had decided to treat myself to while shopping earlier that day at Publix. That college budget is a killer.
I turned to YouTube to get a feel for how I should relay the poem and if I needed to add any theatrics. I looked up my favorite spoken word poet, Shihan, and studied his performance. I soon realized that doing spoken word isn’t just as easy as reciting a basic poem; you have the opportunity to really engage the audience to where they can interpret what you mean. I tried reciting my poem in various ways, stressing some words and even adding in frequent pauses. I wanted my first performance to be a memorable one, so I was adamant about making it perfect.
Somewhere between reciting my poem and choppy blinking, I dozed off. Mind you, I had an exam in the morning, which would determine how my day would go. It sounds weird, but that college voodoo is something that can never be explained, but is always understood. I ended up oversleeping and in a sort of Power Ranger transformation state, I got my clothes on, grabbed my books and ran out the door.
You know what’s worse than being late to an exam? The “late for the exam” walk of shame into the testing room where the door leading in always seems to creak obnoxiously, grabbing the attention of every single person in the room. To make things worse, the only empty seat was one directly in the front, which I had to almost do the robot through the rows to reach.
Having more than likely demolished the exam, in the literal sense, I took the rest of the day off to bounce back and get my psyche right for my open mic debut. I went home, recovered the jewels of the O’s I left the night before and reviewed my poem once more. By some miracle, the poem flowed much smoother with minimal hiccups. I felt as if I was ready to demolish the performance–in the good sense of course. I had to be on campus and at the ballrooms by 6 p.m. so by 5:30, I was out the door and I arrived on the scene around 5:50 pm.
Once there, the club president let me know that the roster would be announced shortly–cue the nerves. I decided to go outside and just take a little walk in hopes of easing my nerves, but as the time ticked closer to the roster announcement, the only feeling I had in my stomach was nausea. Curse my love of ABC SpaghettiOs. 6:50 p.m. hit and I was told I’d be the first one to go. There was no turning back.
As the introduction started and everybody took their seats, the club president called my name and I made my way to the stage. I felt like I was walking in slow motion and the not the cool slow motion. It was more like the “I’m about to fall but can’t stick my hands out in time to brace myself” slow motion. When I finally made it to the mic, the lights flashed on and my inner spaz ran rampant. Not only could I not recite the poem to save my life, but my voice sounded like a fusion of Porky Pig and the Tasmanian Devil. Just horrible. Scattered applause littered the room after I was done burping out my poem.
Needless to say, the car ride home was a long one, but I had my Drake playlist on hand to cushion my heart from the embarrassment. As expected, I waited a couple semesters before I took another crack at an open mic night…and SpaghettiOs.