It is time for another awkward tale from my college years where weird things happened because I was still extremely introverted and I was also very sleep deprived. I went to class all day, rehearsed at night and then stayed up into the early morning so that I had recreation time. I got along pretty well with everybody even though I was strange and I was also one of the few guys in my major. I really liked the people I worked with but since I was guarded and private, most of them knew very little about me. This led to one of my favorite moments in college history.
Now, as I mentioned on Saturday, I went to college with every intention of becoming a stage manager. I had been an assistant stage manager and a production assistant and I liked the responsibility. Very quickly, though, I heard the siren call of design. I felt at home in design classes and I was friendly with a lot of designers who were a little rougher and tougher than my put together, female compatriots. I got along with them too, don’t get me wrong but more and more I remember feeling better in the shops than in the office.
I started to minor in sound design. At first, it was just for fun. The studio was a fun place to hang out during the day between classes as it was both pretty chill and very interesting. We worked under a teacher who used to be a rock and roll roadie for bands like Steely Dan and AC/DC. He was by far the coolest teacher I ever had which was saying something because I actually had a lot of cool teachers. Before I started to actually sound design my own shows, I assisted quite a few people. We were the black sheep and the red-headed stepchildren of the design family all put together. We were practically unofficial but appreciated and we tried to do a lot more than we were authorized some of the time.
So I remember doing a little assisting on a show called Betty’s Summer Vacation, a show that warped my little brain and has stuck with me all these years. Anyway, the designer was a good friend of mine at the time and he had the idea of doing a vocal effect using wireless microphones. We were a Meisner school and we were not allowed to use microphones unless it was for a specific effect since actors were supposed to be able to project. So I get handed three wireless mics and I am told to go out on the catwalk and help test them out. Sure, hand the shy guy microphones and make him the center of attention as the crew worked around us.
So I started to say “Check” over and over and that quickly got old as we were adjusting the sound. So somehow I must have had some sort of breakthrough or maybe it was a psychotic break. I decided the best way to continue to test the microphones was to sing. Although, now that I think about it maybe somebody I was friends with shouted out the suggestion. So the first song that came to mind was our national anthem. I got a few lines into the Star-Spangled Banner until I couldn’t remember anymore. Instead, I started to sing Oh Canada which is the Canadian national anthem. Somehow, I remembered all the words and sang until I was told the microphones were well-tested.
Afterward, for over a week people thought I was Canadian. That was the rumor going around. I was both amused and very flabbergasted. I thought I had been clear how proud I was of my Baltimore heritage. The fact that I knew all the words to Oh Canada and not The Star-Spangled Banner was used as evidence that I was Canadian. Not that I would mind being Canadian. A lot of cool people are Canadian. I mean Chris Jericho and Ryan Reynolds alone is pretty awesome. However, the truth of it is that Oh Canada was just easier to sing for one simple reason. The South Park movie. For two years I had listened a lot to the South Park soundtrack which included the track where Geddy Lee, Terrance and Phillip sang the Canadian national anthem. It was probably stuck in my head that day. It illustrated how distant I still was from some of the people I was friends with.