How I Got Here Part One

I can think of a two moments in my life which were true forks in the road where my life went decidedly in a brand new direction. They weren't planned or anticipated; they happened and it was only in hindsight when I saw that I'd went in a brand new direction. 

This is the story of the first and arguably the most important of those two days.

Let me take you back to my sophomore year of high school in Spring 1994. I had chosen to stretch my artistic muscles in a brand new performing arts academy instead of using my actual muscles on the football field, baseball diamond, and so on. By the start of that spring semester, I was ready to put my artistic pursuits on hold and try to make it as one of the cool kids because, you know, that kind of nonsense mattered back then. That meant this acting experiment was over and I was going to join the football team in the coming summer. 

Mr. Albertson
At the time, I was enrolled in Acting Styles, which was a fancy way to say Class for the Beginners. My teacher was Mr. Albertson, a man best described in all ways as booming. He was imposing, loud, larger than life, and was unlike what I thought a theater teacher was to be. He once coached the football team, taught science, and took a very manly view towards the arts. He also had a reputation for often wearing shorts that accentuated other booming aspects of his, ahem, personality. 

Mr. Albertson was also directing the spring musical, South Pacific. On the life changing afternoon in question, Acting Styles was cancelled because South Pacific auditions were going on at the same time. 

The best show ever (when I was 15)
Sweet, I thought, I'd make it home to catch back-to-back episodes of Beavis and Butt-head. The only problem was that my normal way home would take me right in front of the theater where the auditions were held. 

No problem, I'll just take the long way around the the administration building, cross Main Street at Utica and go that way, avoiding those damn auditions altogether. As I quickly walked by the front office, the doors swung open, and there was Mr. Albertson, right in front of me.

"Where are you going, Mr. Lux?" he said.

"I thought class was cancelled because of the auditions," I said, trying to be super cool. Like, come on man, I mean, who really wants to be in a stupid play anyway, right?

"It is. Now get your ass over there and audition."

Not Pictured: My character
You didn't argue with Mr. Albertson. You didn't try to bullshit him. You didn't try to plea. You just listened and shut up. I turned around, walked back across the campus to the theater and auditioned. The next day,  I was cast in the role of Seaman Tom O'Brien. My casting I'm sure had nothing to do with any notion of a "killer audition." No, I was a guy who for some reason showed up to be in the musical. That was good enough for high school theater, performing arts academy of otherwise. My three lines in the show were in the Bloody Mary number where I was sickened by Mary's collection of shrunken heads.

I had tried to avoid it. I tried to get away from it, but it (oh, that magical "it") wasn't having any of that. It was not satisfied with giving me a semester and change of Acting Styles. It had plenty more in store for me. 

Had I decided to try my luck and sneak by the theater, I probably would have missed the audition, but no, I tried to not do it, and there was Mr. Albertson, appearing from the blue to round me up and shepherd me back in to a dark theater with the other misfits, some to become my best friends. Hell, both of my prom dates (different years, mind you) were in that show.

And of course, as the story goes, I never looked back. How could I? South Pacific was way more fun than any baseball, basketball, or soccer game I ever played. That experience led to another and to another and to another and to a college major and then to graduate school. And it all stems from that day when I tried to get out of auditioning for South Pacific. I'm not exaggerating when I say that with a handful of exceptions, nearly every friend and milestone I've had over the last 17 years came as a result of where my life went that day when I thought I was just going to go home early to watch Beavis and Butt-head.

Funny how things work sometimes, you dig? 

And to think I tried to not have that happen. To what? Play football with those goofs? Tsk, tsk.

So, that's pretty much how I got here.

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