(Nordette asked me the other day if I could pass on some reminiscences of when my husband entered a certain contest. Things got a little crazy this week, but hey, here it is. And if you want to see some examples of what I'm talking about, head over here to check out some video.
If anybody needs me, I'm gonna be catching some cabbages at the St Patrick's Day parade running through uptown today.)
My husband can be loud. Some days, I and other family members swear he was born without volume control. When he gets animated, when he talks on the phone, when he wants something done and the little guy's not doing it, I often find myself telling him to pipe down.
"What? I'm NOT YELLING!" he'll usually say.
I'd think I was going deaf or crazy if it weren't for the times when his own mother chided him for getting up there in the top of the lungs department. It's always good to have confirmation.
On occasion, it's funny. We went to a Zephyrs game during our dating years and settled into some nice seats behind home plate. I walked down along the first base line mezzanine to get some Dippin' Dots (a hot-as-hell ballpark is the only appropriate place to have 'em, incidentally, as the nitrogen burns off almost immediately in the heat) and found I was able to suss out over the general crowd noise a familiar voice screaming "STRIKE 'EM OUUUUT!" near the outfield with little trouble.
So when he decided to enter the Tennessee Williams Festival's Stella and Stanley Shouting Contest one year, I figured he had a good chance of getting somewhere with it on his natural capacity for volume alone. At the very least, he'd get some passes to the Rock 'N' Bowl out of it for exerting his vocal cords a little.
Up on a Pontalba Apartment balcony on the edge of Jackson Square, right by Le Petit Theater du Vieux Carre, where most of the main festival events were being held, were some stand-ins for Stella and Stanley, and the judges for the contest, one of whom was actress Stephanie Zimbalist, a fairly frequent attendee and sometime participant in the Williams Festival doings (though I don't think she ever yelled up at a balcony, not even when she was Laura Holt on Remington Steele).
It was clear that there was a lot more to this than just yelling a name. It was theater, for crying out loud. It was crying out loud with the stand-ins as motivation for Method acting gone amuck. Men AND women were getting into it (in case you hadn't already guessed, the women were screaming for Stanley...and no, I don't recall any men in drag screaming for him). There were props. There were people on their knees imploring loudly. There were those who took their three chances to yell and turned them into a small three-act play in themselves. Crowd reactions were taken into account just as much as the contestants' selling their Kowalskian despair.
How did my husband fare in all of this?
Dan, sad to say, is not an actor of any sort, though he plays a good clarinet and sings a nice tenor. The closest he got to the stage in high school was the orchestra pit. Wearing a t-shirt and his usual slacks and some sneakers, he ramped up his voice as only he can and made it heard all through the Square. His volume didn't fail him, but he didn't really sell it. Applause and appreciation for his efforts was all he needed, and he got it. He certainly got a big hug and a kiss from me. It takes some guts to stand out there on the slate and scream in front of Stephanie Zimbalist.
Anyhow, even if my husband isn't a mad Polack, he can yell at my balcony anytime.