When I was growing up, I never had stage fright. Didn't even know what it was, really. I was the Stage Manager in my senior class production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town. If you're not familiar with the play, understand that the Stage Manager is not only a speaking part, it's probably the one with the most lines. Opening and closing monologues to each act, countless asides to the audience, that kind of thing. Perfect for a know-it-all smartass like me. It's also when I started dating flower_goddess, but that's a story for another time.
A couple of months later was our annual Band Follies, and I was everywhere. Wind Ensemble, Stage Band, jazz quintet (Tigerland Dixiecats, for you fellow Allegan High grads), skits, in-between-acts; seven or eight appearances in all and I would have done more if they'd let me. Even eight years later, on Jeopardy!, I never had any problem with what one of the contestant handlers referred to as "how you handle the lights, the cameras, and the pressure." As an aside, you know you've gotten over an unpleasant event in your life when you forget its anniversary. More on that tomorrow. Or maybe next week. But I digress.
So now our company has reorganized again (is it common practice to have your org chart on a whiteboard?), and the new Guy In Charge of our operations, who of course isn't based where we are, is making the Grand Tour to find out exactly what the people who work for him do. There's about 1100 of us here; half work for him and half work for some other high-ranking suit. I think. There's really no way to tell anymore. At any rate, he's speechifying us later this morning, and I was one of the people picked to actually attend his presentation (as opposed to watching it over closed-circuit, like most of the rest of us). I'm expected to ask a question, which of course will be broadcast over said CCTV, and I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to say and I'm scared to death about it. I know better than to ask the questions I really want to ask, Career Limiting Moves such as "What makes you think you'll work out any better than the guy you replaced?" or "Do the accountants whose terminal fsck-up caused our stock price to go from 70 to 18 in four months still work for the company?, but beyond that, I don't really have anything.
And that bothers me. I don't know why - relatively speaking, there isn't any more at stake today than there was that night I stood up in the L.E. White Junior High cafetorium and kicked things off by belting out "Tonight's play takes place in Grovers Corners, New Hampshire." If I'd munged up Our Town, it would have been a looooong time before I lived it down. It's like I'm afraid to take risks anymore, which wasn't a problem twenty years ago (although in at least one case, maybe I should have been afraid) or even twelve years ago. More on that tomorrow. Or maybe next week.