Tag Archives: Sports

Lil’ Disasters! Occurring In: Theaters

Jana: Here’s something new for the cheap seats in the back: A segment called “Lil’ Disasters”! In these posts, Cath and I will tell mini stories of times that we have embarrassed ourselves horrifically, but in small ways. Today, enjoy some individual moments in my life when I’ve walked away from a situation thinking “Jesus I wish I were dead.” 

In the inaugural edition, let’s talk about my acting career, shall we?

1993, The Beginning

In the third grade, my class did a play for the first time. As soon as the activity was announced, I felt something stirring in me and knew that this was my destiny. Then, I got the lead! The play was called “Daniel, Servant of the Lord,” and I was playing DANIEL. Yesss. I didn’t even notice that this was customarily a part for a boy! When the time for dress rehearsal finally arrived, I donned my tunic and tights with nervous excitement.

During that rehearsal, I was feeling PRETTY great about myself and my future as a gender-ambiguous actress. I had to go to the bathroom, though, so I left the auditorium in costume and headed downstairs. As I rushed down the top step, I saw the school receptionist heading up the stairs towards me.

“How are rehearsals going?” She asked, catching me off guard.

“Oh, great!” I managed to choke out.

Then, my tight-clad feet slipped out from under me, and I fell down the ENTIRE flight of stairs. Aside from sheer, body-wracking embarrassment, I don’t actually remember what happened next; all I know is that I avoided that receptionist at all costs for the entirety of my 5 remaining years at the school.

2005, The College Years

During one of the first rehearsals for the musical “Hair” that Cathy and I both had minor roles in our sophomore year of college, we were rehearsing a racy dance number, “Hashish”. The intimidating director was teaching us some choreography, and he placed me in contact with my crush, Peter. Peter was a junior, and I believed him to maybe BE the funniest person I’d ever met. I was thrilled that he’d have to touch me, which I expressed by looking at the floor and scratching the back of my neck. 

Unfortunately, on the day of this rehearsal I had chosen to wear my favorite workout pants. Like all of my favorite things, they were 90s-esque, with an elastic waist. During one dance move, Peter had to lift me up (YES!). BUT. The pants were so loose! Peter grabbed my waist. BOYFRIEND!, I thought. One second later, I felt my pants slide down. Like, all the way down, so that my underwear was exposed to not only Peter, but the entire cast of people I was hoping to impress. THE CLINCHER: My underwear had been purchased at American Eagle, and it was decorated with “school” phrases, like “To do: Homework!”, and little lists that read: “Field Hockey Practice, Math, TV!” 

Everyone laughed at me, I tried to be like “Ha, who doesn’t love American Eagle?”, and rehearsal continued. Shockingly, Peter never became my boyfriend.

This is what I ended up looking like in the real production of “Hair”. HELP THESE PANTS DON’T FIT ME, I wish I had been screaming. As I mentioned, Peter and I never dated.

2009, On The Downslide

Right after college, no longer an actress but still “wanting to be involved,” I worked as a House Manager at a local theater. One morning, I got dressed in what I deemed to be a classy, adult outfit – consisting of a strapless black top and a cardigan – and headed to work, where it was my job to instruct the volunteer ushers.

The ushers who showed up on this particular day were a man and woman in their late sixties. I gave them some little job to do, like picking up trash in the empty auditorium, and headed to the supply room to get the box of Kit Kits we’d sell at intermission. I leaned down and hoisted the box up into my arms. Easy breezy! Then I returned to the ushers. Like a professional, I instructed them to do another task. As I talked, I noticed they were looking at me with pained faces, as if they were being tortured but had yelled at to be cool about it. What a weird couple! I thought, but I didn’t let it get to me. I made some generic joke like, “Don’t get lost now!”, and sent them on their way. I was KILLIN IT. 

Confidently, I went to check in with the box office attendant. “Jana, oh my god,” she said. “Jana. Your shirt is off! I can see your whole bra! Oh my god!” She gestured wildly towards my chest. I looked down: BOOBS. The strapless black tank top was now just hovering underneath my completely exposed bra. The fucking Kit Kats! The strapless top hadn’t been able to maintain its position under the weight of the concessions! AHH NOO THE USHERRRS.

To my credit, I shimmied my shirt back into position and continued instructing the ushers as if they hadn’t just almost gotten to second base with me. To their credit, they didn’t complain to the theater that their House Manager had exposed herself while on the job. It was a win-win, if you think about it some way other than the way I think about it.

That’s all for today! I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of “Lil’ Disasters”! Don’t worry, there are more to come – lil’ disasters happen in my life every day.

Catherine: JANA YOU ARE A DELIGHTFUL TREASURE TROVE OF HUMILIATIONS. I love the image of your “tight-clad feet” giving way under you, sending you tumbling down the stairs, your bobby pins breaking free and dispersing wildly.

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If You Can’t Swim, Don’t Take A Swim Test

Catherine: As a youngster, I went to a Catholic Lithuanian Heritage camp in Vermont. It was awesome. I get that you don’t think it’s awesome, but that’s only because you are judging. Stop it. It was awesome. Except maybe for my brothers the short week they came, when their sleeping bags were set on fire. They didn’t think it was too great.

At camp, every day had a pretty similar outline, with swim time coming after lunchtime. After getting either a soda or an ice cream (it was also a health camp), we lined up with our cabins and walked down to the pond, which had a leech problem. Like, if you went in, you were gonna wanna make sure you didn’t just get ‘leeched.’ The most prominent leech spot was the shallow end, which was also not the cool hang out spot.

The cool hang out spot was the dock. You could only hang out on the dock if you passed a swim test, which meant that you could swim, oh say, 30 feet and back, or some really stupidly short distance, without drowning. And then you had to tread water for two minutes or until the lifeguard got sick of watching your head bop unenthusiastically up and down. I REALLY wanted to hang out on the dock, and for this I convinced myself that I COULD swim, despite every bit of evidence to the contrary (largely, that I had never been able to do so.)

I went at the same time as my friend, Alex, which calmed my nerves (which were REALLY JUST WAY TOO LOW FOR SOMEONE WHO COULDN’T SWIM). We got to the little floating rope thing, me doggy paddling just marvelously, and then I starting sinking (since I couldn’t swim). So I thought Alex would get my back and let me lean on her a little. Well, that backfired when she yelled out (and I can still hear this ringing in my ears) “She needs help!” Oh, good god. For someone taking a swim test so she could hang out with the cool kids, I really needed to have thought about the implications of making the too-cool-to-jump-in-the-water counselor rescue me.  It didn’t make me any cooler, you guys. It made me  LESS cool.

The counselor inquired, why did you take the swim test?? And I probably mumbled, “I thought I could swim… but I guess not…”

Sulking back to the leech infested half of the pond, everyone was staring at me, and asking if I was ok – I wasn’t dead, so just drop it guys. Don’t wanna talk about it. If I were to guess,  I was fighting back tears as I headed back to read my Baby-sitters club book on my towel.

I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. So, guys, if you can’t swim – don’t take a swim test. You can’t swim. You will fail.

You can’t tell from the picture, but that dragon is covered in white glitter. This was taken the summer of the incident – 1998.

Jana: Oh, Cathy. Poor Cathy. This reminds me of endless horrible camp experiences (my parents sent me to “Adventure Camp”; Adventures TERRIFY me), a similarly embarrassing swim test experience, and a bad leech experience. So yes, we’ve all been there (or possibly just me and Cath). I forget if Cathy can swim now, but I feel like she can’t, and this story brings a lot of things together for me.

Also, just so everyone knows, Cathy once told me about a “Genocide re-enactment” day that took place at this Lithuanian Camp. Apparently, they put the children into vans and blindfolded them and some other stuff that she’ll probably share at some point. She told me this story while we drove from Vermont to Boston, and I thought she was kidding most of the time. Then I realized that she was NOT kidding, and felt like I should take some kind of legal action on behalf of the Lithuanian children. I have to, I thought! But then I thought, ah well – someone else will take care of it.

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Mirrors: If You Kick Them, They Will Break

Jana: Throughout my childhood and into my adolescence, I played soccer. I didn’t LIKE soccer (in fact, it made me VERY nervous and upset), but I did play it, every year: every fall, every spring, and lots of winters. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in my adulthood trying to figure out why, the fuck, I kept playing, if I hated it so much, and all I can come up with is that a) I really wanted to be like my sister, and b) I really don’t like change. I’m a routine kinda girl! In the fall, I played soccer, because when I was eight I followed in my sister’s cleated footsteps and signed up for soccer clinic, and then it was just accepted in my mind as a perennial part of my life.

Me on the soccer field, looking a little angry and a little scared. Look closely for a glimpse at my hair horns (you’ll also want to note the receding hairline, caused by my obsessive need to pull the ponytail as tight as possible).

However, although I deeply hated my own soccer team (note: to any former teammates who may stumble upon this, it was entirely because I was such a weirdo. You were all really nice to me even though I was so weird, so thanks! Go Waves, and all of that! – yes, our team was called the Waves. What?), I remained genuinely invested in the soccer career of my sister. Starting out as a Purple People Eater, her star rose quickly, and she made varsity as a FRESHMAN. That’s unheard of, people. I was beyond proud.

One year, her indoor soccer team had a tournament. Now, indoor soccer doesn’t really matter, but I was a big fan (again, not of PLAYING it – I hated that too, but did it religiously). The tournament at hand was on a Sunday, and consisted of many games in a row, with teams being eliminated as they went. It was a lot like the Olympics, if the Olympics were held in a really depressing indoor sports facility in Burlington, MA, that also hosted birthday parties.

But what better did I have to do with my Sunday? I’ll tell ya: nothin. I was pumped. I went, I stayed all day, I have a weird feeling that I was wearing purple pants of some kind. And my sister’s team was KILLIN IT! They kept winning and winning, and I was overjoyed.

But then, in the final game, things seemed off. The other team was coming off of an hour’s rest, and my sister’s team had played straight through. The other team had lots of subs, and ours only had one or two, or something. The ref made bad calls! I don’t know. Honestly, I do not know nor can I identify with the version of myself that was really invested in this. But invested I was. So invested, in fact, that when they eventually lost the game I was very worked up; I’m sure my hair was frizzing out even more than usual and my cheeks were red. I felt a familiar rage boil inside me, and I knew I had to let it out.

Here is how I chose to let it out: I walked to the bathroom. The bathroom was a rectangular space, and on one end of the room hung a full-length mirror, presumably for young athletes to admire themselves fully pre- and post-games. Without a second thought, I bolted to the far end of the room, got a running start past the sinks, and did a FLYING KICK into the mirror.

Here is what happened next: THE MIRROR BROKE. OBVIOUSLY it broke. It cracked down the middle. Why did I think that it might NOT break? Why did I not consider the cold, hard, fact that mirrors break when you kick them, let alone RUN at them and then kick them? But still! I saw the mirror crack and it destroyed me in an instant. I felt that flash of fear that actually feels like your heart has cracked. What had I done? I was overcome with guilt. I was crying. I was deeply, deeply ashamed.

I couldn’t face anyone right away. I picture myself behaving like someone in a movie who has just shot someone else – alone, shaking my head a little, pacing up and down the empty bathroom. I probably also shook my hands out, like really close to my chest, like an “ahhh what just happened” shake. Once I’d fretted enough, I tried to brush the tears off of my face, hung my head, and found my mom. Then I whispered to her what had happened, in between gulped sobs. Being reasonable, she was confused, but she was just like…. ok, let’s go. This is a large, asshole facility. They can fix their mirror. I couldn’t believe her nonchalance! So we left, while I cried. I continued to feel guilty about the mirror for years to come, until gradually I stopped feeling guilty and started just feeling like… why’d you do that, Jana?

Catherine: YOU DID A FLYING KICK?? Why is this not on tape somewhere? I can see it now, your purple pants flying through the air as your bobby-pinned head lets out a cry of disgust. Also, since you intentionally broke that mirror, I believe you signed up for way more than just 7 years of bad luck, which explains why your life still sucks.
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