|I believe in quiet Christmas holidays. I tend to keep a low profile because of my past experiences with holiday plays and pageants.
Let me explain.
I was probably four or five years old and living in Harrisburg, Penn. My church — which I don’t really remember the name of — was holding one of those dreary pageants where we recreate the story of Jesus’ birth. Naturally all of the children were taking part in it, myself included
So what part did I play? An angel? A wise man? Joseph? Mary?
Unfortunately, I was not selected for any of those roles.
I was to be a shepherd and I wasn’t happy about that idea. For one thing, we never auditioned. My Sunday School teacher selected us for the roles and naturally picked out her favorite pupils for the good roles.
The second reason I wasn’t happy about being a shepherd was the costume.
Apparently the church felt that since we were shepherds, we would wear any old thing. This meant I was wearing an ugly multi-colored flannel robe and some awful orange wool knit hat. At five years old, I may not have known that I liked men, but I did know that there was no way in Bethlehem that I would look good in what they had given me. I didn’t know what shepherds wore back in those days, but I am sure they were more color coordinated than I was. Comments from other cast members about how I looked brighter than the Star of Bethlehem only served to make me angrier.
In contrast, the female who was playing the head angel of hosts was to wear a very nice white robe, complete with a halo attached to the neck of her costume and translucent wings attached to the back of her costume, both streaked with glitter.
Needless to say, however, I heeded the unselfish call of the Christmas spirit and rejoiced in my little, albeit crucial, role in the holiday pageant. And I also performed my role with dignity and grace far above my youth —right after I performed a little altering to the costume of the head angel.
I would like to chalk up the fact that I “accidentally” mislaid the head angel’s halo, glitter and wings to youth and immaturity.
But who am I kidding?
If I was older and more schooled in the art of backstage chicanery like I am now (thank you “All About Eve”), I probably would have ended up stuffing the young girl in the same closet I stashed her halo, wings and glitter and taking her place on stage.
But as they say, what goes around comes around. I was paid back for my bit of youthful indiscretion decades later when I agreed to take part in the city ballet’s version of “The Nutcracker.”
I was to appear for three nights and had a short role as one of the party guests in the opening scene, which would be three minutes.
I think that one of those spirits that scared Ebenezer Scrooge into changing his life was waiting for me with a bat in his hand.
My costume was tight and itchy. And on top of that, my dance partner had a very negative disposition. I don’t blame her much for that. Having the flu and sprains on both of one’s legs would probably tend to make anyone act like Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest.”
And just so that there was an aura of complete doom over me, my dance partner was also young, thin, white and blond; no doubt to inflame some members of the audience to want to meet me backstage and “compliment” me on my performance just in case I got too close to her.
Even with so many figurative “swords” over my head, I performed excellently and without any mishap.
That is until the third and final performance.
But as I look back on it, I realize that it could have been worse.
The sound of my pants splitting could have been louder, thereby making people in the audience think I expressed some intestinal emission instead of making just my dance partner and others on stage think that.
And I did wear underwear and was able to move at an agile pace, thereby sparing the audience a view of my tighty whities.
Of course, the little children on stage were another matter. I like to think that they were so distracted that they didn’t see a thing.
Since that time, I have officially “retired” from all Christmas ballets, pageants, plays, the singing of carols, etc. I fear that the next time I take part in such an event, something extremely calamitous may happen, like Alan Keyes turning out to be secretly gay.
I do my best singing and dancing alone, at home, and in front of the television to the tune of a Charlie Brown Christmas.
— Alvin McEwen is the author of the upcoming book, “Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: The Lies of the Anti-Gay Industry.” To learn more about this publication, visit www.holybulliesandheadlessmonsters.blogspot.com.