Destiny Takes a Detour

When I was seven or eight, I heard my life’s calling, and it came in the form of a show tune.


My parents had gone to see Les Miserables and I got the first taste of my destiny—to be on stage, to sing, to perform—to be a star. I played that tape over and over, memorizing every word to every song. While I was too young to know the story, it didn’t stop me from rollerblading dramatically around the driveway to the songs or performing solos on our deck to flowerpots and pets. 

I was destined to be a star, and it’s not like I didn’t have experience.

When I was four, I had to be dragged off the stage after a breathtaking tap/ballet performance. Then there were the dozens of living room concerts, foam balls stuffed in my shirt for fake boobs and a gaggle of bangles adorning my wrists. I would shimmy and shake down the staircase, emulating Mariah Carey or Barbie and the Rockers in what could only be described as an exact approximation of their talents.

The years saw me hand jive through “Grease” and sing for my “Rent” of “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes."  I’m not sure what happened, but somehow the use of my musical talents became restricted to years of piano lessons and leading cheers in the dugout of softball games.

I can only assume that this town just wasn’t ready for my unique talents.

As an adult I’ve seen a few shows locally—Les Miserables a couple of times, of course—and a trip to New York afforded me the opportunity to see my first Broadway show—“In the Heights.” I left in awe, reminded of the life I could have led.

(And hearing show tunes still gets me singing and dancing around the same way that watching Jackie Chan movies gets me karate chopping my way through the house.)

But apparently being able to sing well is a prerequisite for starring in musicals, and unfortunately, things always sound much better in my head and living room than they do when presented to an external audience—say, people at the grocery store watching me sing “Summer Nights” to the summer squash.

I suppose sometimes destiny takes a detour.

(insert dramatic sigh)

Lesson learned.

This post is in response to the RemembeRED prompt:


Write a post that either starts or ends with the words "Lesson learned." Word limit: 400 words.

39 responses to “Destiny Takes a Detour

  1. OMG are we sisters or twins !!!???? I could have written this and honestly felt exactly this way but the tape I played over and over was CATS and RENT when I was a little older. I still get butterflies before the curtain goes up on a broadway stage and because we live close enough to NYC we see quite a few. I loved this…don’t worry I can’t sing either but hope spring eternal!!!!


    • I’ve only been to the one Broadway show (and I didn’t have to pay for the ticket,) and I was literally speechless and in awe for days. I get goose bumps and even the thought of the stage and the performances, even the beginning notes of a soundtrack. It’s a blessing and curse. I’m jealous you’re a regular!

  2. theladyinredink

    Please tell me you tap dance in the aisles of the grocery store, too.

  3. …sigh…I know exactly how you feel…except I can’t sing or dance, but I’m certain I’m meant to be on stage! Hey, we could take this show on the road!

    • Considering our considerable talents and undying confidence, I have no doubt that if we threw in a small animal and some puppets, we would be a hit.

  4. One of the items on my bucket list is to audition for a Broadway show. And I did sing “On My Own” as an audition once and despite my lack of being cast as the OBVIOUS star of the show, I was offered some lame part in the background because I was just a lowly freshman and politics were running rampant through those hallways.
    I never tried out for another musical again. Shut me down will you!
    Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll be singing the entire score to Jesus Christ Super Star in my bathroom.

  5. I live my life as a musical. Meaning, I spontaneously burst out into song and dance. Its embarrassing for everyone involved.

  6. I too dreamed of being onstage. Instead I worked backstage. I still sing Rent or Wicked or Les Mis when no one’s listening.

    • I declare you awesome for mentioning my three favorite scores, and I also declare that we should all start singing when people ARE listening. Screw talent, we’ve got heart!

  7. I probably have the worst stage fright ever, but I love musicals. My dad and I adore classic rock with a side of Wicked. It’s a good balance.

    I was so sad when Rent went off of Broadway. I’m hoping they’ll bring it back someday. Don’t they do that sometimes?

  8. I used to prance around my living room singing all the words to “My Fair Lady.” I would wave around my magic wand in my pink tutu singing out “the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain!” out in a very bad British accent. I felt like I was the shit. Oh those were the days…

  9. I saw my first musical show in Thailand. It was a drag queen show, and I was like 6. My parents didn’t know it was a gay parade until it was too late. They told me it was men dressing up with fake milk-squirting boobs for fun. Just an eccentric performance, they told me. Hah!

    My second musical show was in high school as a freshman. I saw my schoolmates perform Chicago and earn a national award for it, and boy did I want to be in Broadway as well! I sang and danced and leaped around the hallways (literally, my friends were embarrassed for my behalf) for weeks afterward.

    Unfortunately, I cannot sing. I was content to just be a backup Broadway dancer, actually, but writing called out to me. Now I’ll still be in the audience, except I get a pen to critique them. Heh heh heh.

    • That first part of your comment is so completely epic that you need to write a post about it. The visuals alone might traumatize some, but I would love to get the details on that…

  10. Great post! I LOVE show tunes and musicals! I could never get on stage, though…. I get way too nervous! 😛

  11. Refuse to learn! Music is for joy…not entertainment. Unless I paid for a ticket–then talent is required. But seriously Abby, any show in grocery aisle is more than I paid for.

  12. I feel your pain. I took ballet as a kid (mom’s idea, not mine). At my recital my grandmother had to be asked to leave the auditorium because she was laughing so hard at me. Not the most graceful thing, am I… lesson learned!

    • I only had the one recital, and I’m not sure if it was because I wasn’t that great or because I decided I didn’t want to be bothered with following instructions and sharing the stage. I still wore my tap shoes around the house though.

  13. I always thought I’d be onstage. But more a pop star than a Broadway star. When I was 9, if someone turned on Madonna and gave me a hairbrush, I might as well have been onstage. Or at a terrible karaoke night (I can’t sing!). Who am I kidding? I still rock the songs–with or without said hairbrush.

  14. Even though I don’t watch most musicals, I have watched Grease about 60 times, no joke. I am obsessed with it the way little girls are obsessed with vampire boys. I have the entire movie soundtrack on my workout playlist, too, so if you ever see me on the treadmill, moving my arms up and to the side and doing that wiggly thing with my legs, I’m not having a seizure, I’m just singing, “Grease lightnin’, go Grease lightnin’!” in my head. My favorite song is Sandy and Summer Nights and one day, I want LO and I to dress up as Sandy and Danny for Halloween. In other words, I am super cool.

  15. Oh Abby, how I adore you. Let’s go grocery shopping together, shall we? I, too, sound better in my mind. But my best guess is that *no one* performs quite like you!

    I love when you’re all reveal-y like this. Because you? Are amazing!


  16. LOVE Grease! I remember when the re-leased it in theaters years ago and my friends and I went. Everyone in the entire theater sang every song and people were dancing in the aisles. It was the best!

    Karate chopping your way through the house? Hilarious!

    • I think it’s agreed that “Grease” should become our national theme song, as who doesn’t love “You’re the One That I Want?” The only ones I’m not crazy about are “Beauty School Drop-Out” and “Stranded at the Drive-In.”

      And yes, I still think I’m a martial arts master after watching action movies. I haven’t outgrown that either.

      • I hate Beauty School Drop-Out but I love Stranded at the Drive-In : “What will they say, Monday at schoooooool?”

        Apparently, they have Grease sing-alongs in theatres these days. If it ever comes to my city, I am quitting my job and going on tour.

  17. I am pretty sure one needs talent and a lovely voice to be a movie actress or broadway star, and these seemed to be the only things holding me back from my true calling as well.
    Picky bastards.

  18. What…no Chorus Line?
    I was a stunner at the age of 9 singing tits and ass in my hypercolor t-shirt at Summer Camp.

  19. This sounds to me like a simple case of geography- you need to head to the big city where you’ll get the recognition you deserve! I mean, did Sandy give up on Danny? No!!!

    I have NO singing talent whatsoever but was fortunate enough to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and became completely obsessed for months afterwards. Played the CD until everyone around begged me to stop. Philistines.

  20. Amazing. My grandma used to play the record of Evita over and over for me. And I mean over and over and over. “Don’t cry for me Argentiiiiina…” The kids and I sing all day long 🙂

  21. I did this! I totally was obsessed with show tunes and Broadway growing up…despite having never seen a musical on stage until my adult years. I was convinced I’d be a huge star one day, but I had this paralyzing fear of being on stage in front of real people. Plus, I sucked at singing.

    Another dream dies a slow, tortured death. Oh well, I can always fall back on my juggling talent.

  22. Grease is the only musical I can stomach. OK, not true. I liked the Book of Mormon when I saw it last month. All other musicals remind me of the scene in “Elf” when Buddy sings “I’m in a store and I’m singing!”

    But I too used to perform…only I made up music videos for Abba songs. Oh God.

  23. I now have “There’s no business like show business…..” in my head. And I have the visual of a little girl tapping her little heart out with no music on while adults pull her off stage. I still listen to the Grease soundtrack, a bunch of the songs are on my workout list. I’m cool like that.

  24. I would have never thought this about you. Now I see it all. I would pay decent money to see you jazz handing around your office.

    My six year old, The Goose, sings and dances all the time. She writes songs. She memorizes tunes on the radio after two listens. hmmmm, maybe we;’ve got the next Lea Michele in our house.

    • I have no idea who Lea Michele is, so for all I know, you could either be raising a pop music star or a trapeze artist for the circus…

  25. personal sidenote, albeit, I feel very important to our friendship.

    My wannabee fiance came to visit me while I was living in London and I took him to see like, the most famous Les Mis show ever in an old amazing historical theater.

    He fell asleep.

    Let’s just say, we didn’t make it.

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