I like to sing, even though I can't do it very well. But apparently my thirteen-year-old self thought I did a stupendous job, as evidenced by this personal narrative written in middle school. I'd like to take a quick break from your regularly-scheduled video game programming to bring you a tale from my elementary school days. A tale wrought with dreams of stardom, defeat, and Disney's adaptation of Pocahontas. Enjoy this narrative and make fun of it wholeheartedly. Those were different times back then.
At the age of eight years old, I was positive that a myriad of talents lay dormant inside of me. Having already been praised on my artistic and literary prowess, I had set my sights on the stage. Stonestreet Elementary, the illustrious public education facility that I had attended from first through fifth grade, had an annual talent show for its faculty and students. More of a way to measure social status than actual entertainment, this talent show was anticipated by both pupils and staff. Young hearts were broken and spirits were crushed by the auditions alone. Yes, auditions. This was premium child star material.
If some poor child wasn't intimidated enough by the leagues of other talent show hopefuls, the initial shock of standing before a sea of strangers was even more unsettling. I was among the select few that saw the bare wooden floor of the minute gymnasium's stage as a way to prove myself to the public. A way to stand up and announce to my peers that I was a force to be reckoned with; someone to watch out for in the years to come.
On the fateful night of the talent show, I stood nervously in the left wing of the stage, going over my lyrics and chatting with different individuals around me to calm my nerves. "Colors of the Wind" had been my selection. Pocahontas, Disney's current marketing bid, had featured the track as part of one of the movie's more "romantic" scenes. The formulaic masterpiece had me entranced. I was among the billions that went along with Disney's half-baked character marketing schemes, and now, decked out in my Pocahontas Halloween costume and very uncomfortable moccasins, I was about to re-enact my (copyrighted) favorite scene.
"Nervous?" Some random bystander's voice interrupted my thoughts. Just when I was getting to the part that required the most concentration! I didn't take my eyes off the paper. All this person received was a slight nod, if you could even call it that.
The sound of "Brother For Sale" emanated from the stage where my mortal enemies Natalie and Emily Gaither were performing. Performing. Scoff. Identical twins doing their rendition of a childish song originally recorded by other, famous identical twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. I didn't know whose idea that was, or who thought it would be an extremely cute thing to do for an elementary talent show, but I knew whoever it was had to be out of their ever-loving mind. I assumed that the culprit had to be Natalie and Emily's mother. PTA parents and soccer moms were just like that, it seemed. They usually already had the best of everything else, so their children had to measure up for fear of being fed to the dog. Of course, either that, or the twins were evil geniuses bent on achieving world domination by being completely and utterly cute. Yes, you may gag now. I know you've been holding it back for a while.
Their "song" was almost at its end now and my turn in the spotlight was fast approaching. I adjusted the stereotypical Indian feather that was tucked behind my ear and took in the reassuring smiles from the people around me when the master of ceremonies took the podium.
"Thank you, Natalie and Emily!" The applause was deafening, but not because the spectators were stupefied by the twins' performance. They were simply overjoyed that they wouldn't have to suffer any longer. Yes, even at this young age, I experienced bitter jealous and hatred. I examined their saccharin grins, ones that just hissed "Beat that!" as they pranced by me, off the stage and down to sit in the audience. Watching their pigtails bob up and down as they made their way to a seat gave me the insatiable urge to grab one and pull as hard as I could.
Finally the emcee ceased her incessant banter, tasteless material prepared especially for events like these. Some of her premeditated quips worked for a minor quantity of the audience, but the most she ever received was a snicker or two...perhaps a chuckle. There may have even been a few guffaws, but I digress. I tuned out the rest of her garbage until I heard my name.
"...And now, folks, here is eight-year-old Brittany Vincent, performing the Pocahontas hit, 'Colors of the Wind'!" I shuffled timidly out to center stage. Palms sweaty and heart fluttering like a frightened rabbit's, I faced the crowd of fellow students and adults to force a bright smile. My eye caught a glimpse of my father and his camcorder, about to immortalize this atrocity on film. Oh, joy. The first notes of the song blared through Stonestreet's unimpressive sound system and I walked up to the microphone.
"You think I'm an ignorant savage
And you've been so many places
I guess it must be so
But still, I cannot see
If the savage one is me
How can there be so much that you don't know?
The crowd in stunned silence, the music quieting for a moment to strike up the next chorus...I felt completely at ease. I watched all of my worries and anxiety fly away like the words sailing out of my mouth. I smiles and began the next verse. It wasn't until a few lines in that I realized the complexity of the song I was singing. I didn't have much time to ponder it, however. The last verse had arrived...and...
"You can own the earth and still
All you'll own is earth until
You can paint..."
Holding my arms wide open, I hit the last few notes.
"...with all the colors...of...the...wind."
The song slowly faded away and I took a bow in response to the thunderous applause. It was true. I was multi-talented and I could do anything I set my mind to. This talent show was in the bag. Walking down the side steps to settle down in the audience, I felt like royalty. On top of the world. Nothing could ever bring me out of that euphoric state. Still, I played it cool.
"That was excellent!" beamed Ms. Roth, the talent show coordinator. Trying my best to mask the big smile on my face with a contemplative blank stare, I mumbled something like "It was okay, I guess." I passed the twins on the way to my parents. They stood and smiled, very politely. Very cute. Very fake.
"That was great, Brittany!" Emily almost seethed. Hatred oozed from her words like blood from a package of uncooked hamburger meat.
"Probably better than us," added Natalie. "I think we messed up a few times." Lying through her teeth, of course. I mustered a "thank you", sarcasm thick as honey, and sought out my parents. They too showered me with compliments and undue praise. After suffering through such, finally, the moment I'd been waiting for arose. Mr. Perkins, the current principal of the incredulous school, walked out onstage, all eyes suddenly on him.
"We've had a showcase of so many wonderful talents!" he boomed, adjusting his tie. I rocked back and forth in my seat impatiently. These adults. They loved keeping everyone in suspense. On and on he droned until he reached the only important part of his lifeless monologue. "The time has come now to announce our winner! Rather, our winners," He said this with an enormous grin. "Remember: Everyone who participated is a winner." I rolled my eyes. It was such a shame that my elders always had to rely on such banal clichés. Get to the point already!
"The winners of Stonestreet Elementary's annual talent show are..." He paused dramatically, obviously wanting to prolong our suffering. "Natalie and Emily Gaither! Girls, come on up and get your prize!" My face fell. HOW in the world did they win? WHY? Anger boiled in my stomach like the infamous concoction of MacBeth. My eyes bore a hole in the twins as they displayed their sweet little "I'm-perfect-and-there's-nothing-you-can-do-about-it" smiles. Cockily they accepted a small silver trophy.
"Thank you, everyone!" they shouted in unison. My parents rushed to console me, afraid that this defeat would emotionally scar me for life. I don't know. Maybe it did. Everyone kept giving me these hangdog looks. Their sympathy made me nauseous. I didn't want pity, I wanted to win! Only a couple moments later, the spawns of Satan pushed through the writhing masses of the gymnasium to meet the rest of their perfect family.
"Nice job, Brittany," Emily sneered. "I didn't think you'd win for a minute." Little Miss Mary Sunshine, wasn't she? However, after those words left her mouth, what I'd felt during the performance surged through my head again. I'd felt important...everyone had been looking at me. Me. I turned my head to her and shrugged.
"You only won because you sang a song about selling a sibling. People go for that sort of thing." I turned my back, not waiting for a reaction. I gave her time to try out my tongue twister before facing her and Natalie again. "Besides, we all know who the real winner is. Right?"
Indeed, we did, namely myself. Even though I hadn't won the trophy, I'd felt sensational. I'd had my so-called fifteen minutes of fame. Well, four minutes. The other eleven would come another time, perhaps. I had been doing something that it seemed I was skilled at and it felt wonderful. In my mind, I was the reigning talent show champion. Maybe those tired clichés are clichés for a reason. "Everyone who participated is a winner." They're true.
Brittany Stormborn of House Destructoid, Queen of the Weeaboos and the First Otaku, Khaleesi of the Great Plains, Breaker of Bust A Groove 2 Jewel Cases, and Mother of Niche/Rare Games
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About Brittany Vincentone of us since 12:05 PM on 11.01.2008
Can't play witcha, I been busy workin', baby.
Brittany Vincent is an accomplished video game and freelance entertainment writer whose work has been featured in esteemed publications and online venues like G4TV.com, Mashable, Joystiq, Complex, IGN, GamesRadar, VG247, Kotaku, Tom's Guide, Nerdist, TechRadar, The Escapist, Gamezebo, GameSpot, and more. She’s been writing professionally for ten years and enjoys combining her lifelong love of gaming and extensive video game knowledge with her passion for the written word.
Currently, she is one of the Managing Editors of [email protected] (syfygames.com/news) and previously an Associate Editor at Destructoid. She's a regular contributor at several other outlets as well.
She also enjoys writing for horror publications like Rue Morgue, Bloody Disgusting, and Dread Central. Over the past few years, she’s also worked with PR representatives to build relationships and obtain review products for her work, having managed her own gaming website and small teams to attend video game conventions such as PAX East in 2010 and E3 in 2011. In addition, she was the community manager at Japanator from 2013-2014.