Thursday, November 21, 2013

Gray Coat: A Dance with Insecurity

I've gotten better over the years, but when I was younger I was a huge show-off. I absolutely loved getting in front of people and [insert action here]. Sing, dance, sing and dance, act, do cartwheels and walk-overs (both front and back), talk in accents, be absolutely ridiculous, you name it--if I could do it I would and if I couldn't do it you were going to watch me try.

I want to be very clear--my parents were (and still are) very loving and gave me plenty of attention. It was just that...I needed the rest of the world to love me and give me plenty of attention, too. For whatever reason(s), I didn't have very many friends when I was a young child. It always seemed like people didn't want to play with me. I imagine I was something of a bossy and melodramatic preschooler (yes, that's how young we're talking), but I think a lot of my insecurities stemmed from that. 

And from my insecurities (and whatever natural inclination I had) grew my love of performing, because you didn't have to have a ton of friends to be the center of attention on a stage. You could just be you, do your thing and substitute the adoration of a crowd for the closeness of a group of friends. 

Don't worry. Like I said, I've gotten better. I still love performing, but I do have some incredibly close friends who I hold dear. The thing is that we cannot completely get rid of the wounds from our childhood. Part of me will always feel like I don't quite belong, that people don't want to interact with me or don't see me, that I am best kept at a distance, to be observed but not held close, that my worth is only apparent when I am onstage. I realize that these things are probably not true, but these are the scars that I wear. And while most of the time they are faded to the point of being almost invisible, they sometimes flare up, pinch and burn bright.

To be honest, this too has gotten better over time, but there was a point when my scars would appear as I watched others perform--as I wished it was me onstage being cheered by the crowd. I would think about how much the audience loved the performers, how much better a job I could do, how much the crowd would never know, how much attention I was not getting because I was not the one on stage. I would leave shows and concerts feeling jealous and frustrated, because I felt I could do better and I wanted that recognition. 
Do I sound like a horrible person yet? 

I learned. Shows are to be experienced and enjoyed. Performers are to be appreciated, encouraged and supported. There is no room to be jealous of our contemporaries. That is not to say that there is no room to try to be better than our contemporaries, but there is no point in letting pride and/or insecurities get in the way of what is supposed to be entertainment.


However, an emotion as strong as jealousy sure does make for interesting songwriting.




Gray Coat
By Rachel Oto

Through the haze of lantern-lit
Smoky rooms with gold coins spent
On shots of courage with a twist
On coasters on an old oak bar
Heels stomp a salted stage
Ruffled skirts kiss fishnet legs
This the best parts of their days
Hoping to attract her gaze
From me they all look away
But

Slip me in a red lace dress
And I’d bewitch and make them twitch
Oh, I could make them want me fast
Just as she makes castanets
Of their hearts
She burns her mark on their poor hearts
Each fiery dance
It’s clear I never had a chance
Here

Condensation starts to drip
Down the sides of glasses sipped
And down the sides of minds unzipped
With all the ways the night could end
Roses thrown at dainty feet
A graceful bow, but doesn’t meet
Their hungry eyes as she retreats
Disappointment squirms in seats
And not a second glance
But

Slip me in a red lace dress
And I’d bewitch and make them twitch
Oh, I could make them want me fast
Just as she makes castanets
Of their hearts
She burns her mark on their poor hearts
Each fiery dance
It’s clear I never had a chance

The tab is paid and I slip out on crowded streets
The sidewalk full of pretty girls in pretty things
Me and my gray coat pass by so quietly
They don’t know what they’re missing
But

Slip me in a red lace dress
And I’d bewitch and make them twitch
Oh, I could make them want me fast
Just as she makes castanets
Of their hearts
She burns her mark on their poor hearts
Each fiery dance

Slip me in a red lace dress
Just as she makes castanets
Of their hearts
She burns her mark on their poor hearts
Each fiery dance
It’s clear I never had a chance
Here

Just for the record, you don't need a red lace dress to get noticed.

Be bold.

R

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