This is an installment of Suzette Andujar’s weekly column “As I Was Saying”
Have you ever thought that you were really good at something? Let me rephrase that: have you ever thought you were the absolute best at something and no one could compare to your talents…like ever? When I was in high school I had that over-inflated attitude. Not with everything mind you, just with one specific thing: I convinced myself that I was the best actress/singer in my school. Oh yeah, I was one of those. I may not have been good with classroom speeches but I belted out “I Dreamed A Dream” like I was about to win a Tony.
In my first high school play I got the lead role. I had my own song and everything (it was Showboat if you’re curious). I didn’t just portray Julie; I WAS Julie. I’m sure I was made fun of for exaggerating (it was high school, not Broadway, but so what?!) and I didn’t care. I got rave reviews and it was one of the best experiences in my life.
The following year the production decided to do West Side Story. I decided to come back for blood.
I was going. To. Be. Anita. Nostradamus prophesied this event. The other girls contending for the role expected me to get it and didn’t hide their unpleasant sneers. I walked into the audition and went on the stage like I was winning my Oscar. The director instructed, “Sing the ‘A Boy Like That’ number.” I smirked. I knew it so well I convinced myself that I wrote it. Let me be clear: I SANG that song. I could hear my name being printed on the playbill. The part was mine.
I was dead wrong. You want to know why I was dead wrong? I sang with the thickest Spanish accent you’ve ever heard. Did I not mention that I’m from Jersey? To this day I still can’t explain what came over me. I sounded like a broke-down version of Ricky Ricardo’s speaking voice. You want an example? Prepare yourself. The line is: “A boy like that, who’ll kill your brother. Forget that boy, and find another. One of your own kind, stick to your own kind.” This is how it came out: “A boy like dat, who kill ju brah-der, ford-get dat boy an find-u-nudder. One ah ju own kind stick tu jur own kind.” *insert deadpan-face emoji*
I nearly tripped as I rushed off of the stage. The other girls looked at me with sudden pleasantness. I didn’t get the part. As a matter of fact, I was demoted to ‘background dancer #2.’ I embarrassed myself because I thought I was “all that.” I let my haughtiness take control and learned the hard way that I should never have a big ego. It isn’t attractive nor fun. So I admit: one time I thought I had swag but all I had was a big slice of humble pie with whipped cream and a cherry on top. And you know what? It doesn’t taste so bad.