November 3, 2011
Remembrance of Dinks Past
By Gaëtan L. Charlebois
On my first day of theatre school there was a transit strike. The buses were on but the metros were closed. So I got up at five a.m., bussed up to Montreal North to try to grab a bus to a shopping mall where I would then get the bus to the suburban school.
First class: Movement! Twenty or so insecure first years having to change into tights right there in the room.
The operative term is "try to". I got lost in the boonies, unable to find the bus stop, weeping, begging the map I was holding to talk to me. Then, WHAM!, I walked into a concrete wall. When my head cleared, there was my bus! There! Like a mirage! I ran, paid the fare, got on and a woman looked at me and screamed. I had blood pouring down my face. I tried to sop it up with a moist Kleenex (it was hayfever season). At the shopping mall, where I was to change buses, everything went smoothly. I even had a minute or two to wash my head-wound, and then I was at school.
First class: Movement! Twenty or so insecure first years having to change into tights right there in the room. One of the girls in the class, I couldn't help noticing, hadn't bought tights but instead wore black pantyhose and had a bush that was out of control. For a closeted 17-year-old Queerboy it was not a turn-on - more frightening than anything, actually. Could this get any worse?
"Now," said the madman who was the teacher, "I want you to pair up, face each other, close your eyes and touch each other. And I mean REALLY TOUCH EACH OTHER!!!" I was paired with Bob Barnard who would become a best friend. Then it began.
"TOUCH!!!!!" the movement teacher shrieked.
(I later learned from the rest that there was a lot of shoulder, elbow, knee and foot touching but no groping of gonads.)
Bob and I fumbled about each other's faces, neither of us going below the shoulders. "You're not going to go further," I mumbled. "No, you neither right?" he answered. The teacher was off in another corner of the room, egging a pair on to, "Get into it!" I didn't even want to see what he meant. (I later learned from the rest that there was a lot of shoulder, elbow, knee and foot touching but no groping of gonads.)
Then there was rhythmic marching. We lined up and marched on the beat of the lunatic's tambourine. We stood in line as we waited our turn and the girl in front of me, trying to be nice, looked at the cross I wore on a chain around my neck, back then, took it in her fingers and said, "It's lovely."
"LET GO OF HIS PENIS!" the teacher roared. He was speaking of her and me and the whole class swung around towards us, ready for anything in this asylum. The teacher swooped towards us as the girl denied vehemently she had been toodling my cojones while I, simply, wanted to be dead. "You might as well have been playing with his penis," the teacher hissed. "That's the impression you gave me anyway!"
And then, thank you God!, my first class on my first day of acting school was over.