Thursday, August 23, 2007

The day I brought the house down

Update: Apparently I have remembered some of the details incorrectly. My sister corrects me in the comment box-and in talking to her last night I heard corroboration on her version from my mother. So, if you scroll down to the bottom of the story, you will see the real story.

Every Saturday night we used to watch the Lawrence Welk show as a family. It was a big deal-the TV didn't get turned on much in my house growing up-less and less as the years went on. We grew up listening to my Dad's records of the big bands of the 30's and 40's, so Lawrence Welk Show was a natural. We knew the songs, had our favorites, etc.

Well, one Friday evening when I was in 4th grade my Mom and my oldest sister mysteriously disappeared for several hours. They had gone to see several of the Lawrence Welk performers on tour in Attleboro-a town some 15-20 minutes from us. Joe Feeney the Irish tenor (my favorite), Bobby and Cissy-the dance team, and Gail Farrell-one of the singers. This was BIG around our house. My oldest sister related every detail, every song, every audience participation bit. Wow!

Well Sunday had a surprise for us. The weather was bad, and sometime over the weekend the Lions Club (which was sponsoring the tour date in Attleboro) called Mom and told her they had a lot of cancellations due to the weather. They offered free tickets for the whole family (10 children, 2 parents, and my grandmother). Sunday after Mass we left for Attleboro. I am sure they didn't tell us where we were going until we got there.

Not only did we have tickets, they gave us 3 tickets for for the front row center and the rest (10 because my Nana came with us) were for the 2nd row.

Because they thought Joe Feeney may come down in the audience and sing to some of the old ladies, my parents had me sit with Nana (and one of my sisters, I can't recall which) in the front row.

So, the show goes on. Joe Feeney did indeed come down and sing to Nana. He also went to my parents and picked up my youngest sister (at the time-two more were to come) and sang Too Raa Loo to her.

But the best (or the worst for me) was yet to come.

Gail Farrell took the stage. After a couple songs she was looking for a male volunteer from the audience. I slouched in the front row. (Remember, I knew what song she wanted to sing, and why she wanted a volunteer, because my sister had told us everything.) I think my slouching was like magnet to Miss Farrell. She points to me. I shake my head, but she beckons energetically. Being obedient, I headed for the stage. My Dad later said it looked I was trudging to my own execution. (I am sure the smile in the photo is forced.)

On stage, she asked me if I knew the alphabet, and would I say it for her, pausing after every letter. She was going to sing "A You're Adorable, B You're so Beautiful" etc. Well I knew what "K" stood for, and I wasn't happy about it.

So we go along, and I get ready. I say "K", she sings "You're so Kissable" and the moment she leans over to kiss me, I jump back away from her. I brought the house down. She tried again, and I jumped back some more. The laughter and applause was deafening. You should have seen the surprise on her face. I'm not sure she ever encountered this before. She finally did get a kiss on-but I dramatically wiped it off-and the audience roared.

The rest of my time on stage remains mostly a blur. Every part of me was focussed on avoiding "the kiss", so the rest is hazy. I think she made me dance with her; I didn't like it, but it wasn't as bad as the other.

As you can see, her attempt was caught on camera. Having eight sisters I was an expert at avoiding kisses-yet I failed at this crucial public moment. (My younger brother proved a better expert at avoiding kisses-but even he succombed eventually.) Notice how far away from her I am compared to the previous photo.

I am not a natural comedian. To get a laugh, I have to play the straight man. That day I did-and brought the house down.

Oremus pro invicem!


Anonymous said...

As I recall it was after she kissed you, when you "wiped it off" that really made the audience laugh!!!

JCurley said...


Okay I confess-maybe she did get me. But you are right-I wiped if off!