The Plunge to Embarrassment

Kristina Melo, Contributor

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Ever since I was in the womb, my dad has found a way to expose me to hundreds of genres of music and their importance – sometimes being almost as boring as the extreme long classical music playing in the car. My dad has been perfectly playing all those genres in concerts, restaurants, schools, or any location with a decently tuned piano for as long as anyone in my family can remember. Living up to that is NO joke. At about three years old, it became my turn to become the next concert pianist, but each lesson was quickly interrupted by my excuse of, “I need to use the bathroom” or “SNACK”, which became my favorite habit. However, as the years passed by, I began to understand the importance of practicing and performing as it gave my dad great pride (and occasionally receiving a new toy).

As a five-year-old performing in my first performance at the JCC, I was more focused on the motion in which the butterflies in my stomach were spinning than the piano piece itself. A new feeling of adrenaline caused by both fear and excitement filled me as my tiny fingers pressed against the piano keys to create harmonic sounds. It was…PERFECT. The crowd cheered, my parents cheered, all the cute five-year-old boys cheered; the stage truly felt mine. From that point on, I continued to perform by playing the piano and singing despite dreading having to sit my ass on the hard, wooden piano bench. One flawless performance after another, I soon grew a love for the stage, and the audience, and was willing to put myself out there for what seemed like the world.

Some more years went by when another opportunity to express my musical talent was announced. The 8th Grade Play. I was given two major roles and most of the piano pieces for the songs in the play. To perform the piano pieces, I had to jump off the stage and into the pitch-black “pit” on time for each opening scene. 8th grade me was feeling the authority and responsibility… and I liked it. I practiced for weeks on end because I did not want to mess up in front of all those parents whose children I interact with on a daily basis, or the BIG, SPOOKY high schoolers. It was difficult to feel confident because there were four performances and each one was an opportunity for failure – something my 12-year-old self-esteem could not afford. 

After months of rehearsals, the two show days finally came and suddenly I felt a lot like the five-year-old me at my first performance, but on the first day, I overcame my fear and was able to successfully recite my lines, sing my solo, and play piano in the pit. A day later and it was the final performance for the parents. Only one more time to mess up, no biggie. The show was running smoothly as I superbly act as a nosy drama queen teen for the last time (at least the last time on stage). I hit all the notes in my last 8th grade play solo. I knew my dad was smiling from ear to ear in the audience. I quickly change into my neon pink Nike hoodie with matching leggings costume and prepare to bolt through the dim stage and into the “pit” during a scene change. Quickly running to be on time for my cue, I step off the stage and onto the amp. 

BANG. my head slammed against the stage end, along with my dignity as I fell.

CLANG, CLINK, CLATTER. Trumpets, flutes, and saxophones fell off their stands and trampled me over as if I had thrown myself into a Buffalo stampede.  

GASP. The air was intoxicated with an awkward tension like when a fifth grade boy says the word penis aloud. Everything and everyone just stopped and stared. Sure, I was hoping to be extra special, but this was REALLY not my ideal scenario. I ruined my flawless performance and could feel the embarrassment (and probably concern) running through my parents’ bodies. In hopes of breaking the tension, I extravagantly leap from the ground with my pounding head and shout, “Don’t worry! I’m okay!!!”. 

“Ehhh”, I thought. What just came out of my mouth. I now not only look like a clums, but like also a dumb one. 

While spreading my sheet of papers on the piano stand to begin playing, I knew in those moments I had lost my chance of proving myself a responsible musician. As I walked back up the stage to return for my last scene, I had lost a few brain cells from the head trauma, lost my dignity knowing every camera captured that moment, and gained a fear of the “pit” greater than my fear of bugs.

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