Memoir Monday #2

“Folks, the next comedian drove from Richmond here to Virginia Beach tonight. I wouldn’t do it, but he did for free to make you all laugh. Please help me welcoming to the stage, Drew Fridley!”

My first attempt producing laughter from a room full of strangers. The host just announced my name, no turning back now.

I inhaled a Chipotle burrito an hour ago but my stomach feels empty. Mouth is dry, but how? To my sensitive teeth’s dismay, I drank two and a half glasses of ice water three and a half minutes ago. My chest thumped like a dryer with only shoes inside. Sandpaper would slide away from my palms. Milliseconds have past since I had been announced; fight or flight? — I stood.

I traipsed down the center aisle of the 200-seat, dark-lit venue; I’m glad only a quarter of the seats are occupied. I have dealt with feet falling asleep before but not my entire body. It feels as though I have pins stuck in my skin from an acupuncture appointment that I needed to leave abruptly. I notice people drinking alcohol and hope they have drank enough for an endorphin rush to facilitate laughter. I am second-guessing my decision to not indulge in a drink myself.

Success! I materialized on stage! Six seconds of walking without tripping! After shaking the host’s hand, I thought, thanks to anxiety-ridden comics, his right hand must stay moist most of the night. I feel the heat of the spotlight on my back. If I would have known about that synthetic-sun contraption, I would not have worn a black and red flannel.

On the floor behind a speaker, I lay a cell phone sized piece of paper on my cell phone. My phone is recording so I can cherish this moment forever. Or delete it once I return to the back of the room. On the paper, five topics are written; the topics of my jokes in case my mind goes blank up here — hours of practicing the five minute performance is not enough to forgo this miniature insurance policy.

The metal microphone feels like an outside rail in winter. A nice contrast to that light, still doing its best to burn a hole through my back. I turn and slowly raise my head to face the crowd for the first time. Unbeknownst to them, this my first time performing stand-up. I want them to know. I want them to know I am not a professional, before I prove assumptions wrong.

I move the mic stand behind me. With apprehension, I pull the slack in microphone cord like I am about to wrap up an extension cord. I am trying to remember what all those psychology articles said about confidence: shoulders back, stand up straight, make eye contact, smile, speak clear and loud. — I spoke.

The host introduced me as driving from Richmond but I drove from Charlottesville, another hour on the other side of Richmond. I improvise self-deprecation, “I actually drove here from Charlottesville tonight, so I’m truly a dumbass.” — Everyone laughed.

I loved the feeling of performing stand-up for the first time. It is like a drug. I know I’ll never have that feeling again and I’m fine with that because I have a vivid memory of it.

Laughter is an excellent tool in life. I’ve used it for defense and attention for almost my entire life. Some people use it too much, some too little. There is a balance and I feel like I’ve found it. I do not feel I need it for defense or attention as much. I don’t say never because I’m still human. Well, half human. But at night, I turn into a mythical dragon 🐉 . On full moons I turn into Freddie Mercury and perform the entire set that Queen performed at Live Aid in ‘85.<

encourage everyone to do any kind of performance in front of an audience. It’s a kind of magic. Any kind of performance. Sing, dance, poetry slam, act in a play, cover Queen’s set at Live Aid! It is a great way to gain insight about yourself and others.


Memoir Monday

I wrote a short memoir about an adventure I had in Croatia after leaving Krka National Park. Critiques are welcomed. And for the love of all things holy, visit Croatia. Enjoy:

Sleeping naked in a tent by this Croatian-highway is not something many people can tick off a list. I’m in the midst of placing myself in this sparse group.

Do I want to sleep on the rocks or exert energy to hand-mow this gigantic grass? Croatians are clearly not allocating enough money to highway maintenance.

I assemble my tent and lay it against the tall grass. Climbing inside I lay down to flatten the grass with my body weight. I unravel my cylinder of packed clothes like a red carpet runway. This royal-runway-carpet o’ clothes is what I will sleep on for seven hours. I am traveling with clothes, a tent, Kindle, and a jar of peanut butter; the clothes are the best option for optimal, comfortable sleep. I take off the clothes I am wearing and wrap them around my Kindle and the jar of PB to make a pillow; I feel like MacGyver in his prime.

Hours ago I walked a few miles from Krka National Park to here to hitchhike to Zagreb; I’d hoped to sleep in someone’s car. Alas, no one was willing to pick up a stranger as the July sun made the mountain its grave.

My skin is as sticky as a fly trap ribbon. If I roll off of these clothes in the middle of the night, I risk waking up glued to my plastic tent.

Cicadas singing to the melody of 18-wheelers. “THIS is living,” I say, “THIS is vacation.” Sarcasm is my method of defense for this situation. I struggle to keep in mind that this will be hilarious in hindsight.

How humorous it would be to be awakened by Croatian cops unzipping a tent to see a guy only wearing an eye mask and ear plugs. Or if a vehicle veers off the road, crushing the tent and its contents. The news article tomorrow will be “Naked nomad crushed near highway.” – Except it will be in Croat. Some of my friends back home would not be surprised by the headline, which brings a smile to my face.

For proof of my situation I get out of my tent and take a 22 second video of my surroundings: vehicles zooming by at 120 kph, highway lights, and chirps of hidden cicadas.

I ventured on this journey to get outside of my comfort zone. Mission accomplished, Drew. You’ve 41 days to expand the zone further.

I am going to sleep now. Croatia is beautiful, but tomorrow I need to get the hell out of here.

Well there it is, Reader. And here is a photo of how happy I was in the park before this incident occurred: