I Think I’m Sick, part 6 (No, Really I Am Sick)

Funny think about trying use mind over matter when battling a cold is that it doesn’t work so well when you spend 2 hours a night saying over and over how sick you are. I started the run of The Hypochondriac feeling sluggish with a head cold. Second week was fine. I felt invincible. Suddenly, two nights ago this flu grabbed me by my foundation and shook me. A little nasal drip moved into an itch in the throat. This became an oozy flushed feeling around my head and an ache in my back.

I really tried to say it was in my head but then I sneezed. A real sneeze. Then thinking became labored. By the time I got to the theater that night, I was loopy. I lay on the floor for half an hour wondering how I was going to stand. The show went by without any real hitches, though I do lay under a sheet twice near the end of the show, pretending to be dead. As I felt my heart beat in my jugular, I thought about how Moliere died after giving his last performance of this play and how the superstition that yellow brings bad luck to actors originated from the color of the clothing he wore at the time of his death. I don’t wear yellow in this show.

I’m back to just mildly crappy for the final two performances tonight and tomorrow.

This is, of course, the time when you think, “ok, now I know how to play this thing.” You have really warm, loving audiences who respond consistently. You have quiet, smiling audiences that appreciate it in their own way. You have vaguely annoyed audiences rife with jealous or animosity or self-loathing dripping from their pores. Some nights are a Whitman Sampler of all the above.

More than getting a feel for playing the piece, you come to find this collection of people you’re suddenly thrust together with becoming a new dysfunctional family in your life. Actually, it’s a couple of families stacked on top of each other-onstage, backstage, and with the audience-so the attachments can be intense. Then it all goes away. Like serial monogamy.

I know I’ll keep in touch with some of these fine folk and others will go to the four winds. Not out of malice or anything, just because. It’s like that week right after high school meets Groundhog’s Day.

I don’t know what my next project will be. I have several that moved to the back burner when I jumped on this train. I think I’m going to sit quietly and figure a few things out. In spite of several difficulties, The Hypochondriac is in my all-time top ten for favorite shows and tomorrow night will be like giving up my dog for adoption.