Recall a mental image, a snapshot attached to an event or encounter or special or painful moment that has deeply impacted you. What is the sensory information transmitted by this image? What does it look/feel/taste/smell/sound like?

I don’t remember the role I auditioned for, only the role I received. My high school was performing Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile and I, a 5’1″, adorable, shy, caramel colored girl was cast to play the elderly, lovable, hopeless romantic and comedic Gaston. I had to sing, change my voice, wear a beard that was glued to my face and itched something awful, wear makeup that made me look old from afar and stuff a pillow under my shirt and vest. Also, I had the first line of the play, a song of course, and was required to burst through a newly painted door. Unfortunately, the door got stuck so my already challenging entrance was made more glorious when I kicked the door open while roaring, “TRA-LA-LA-BOOM-DE-AYE!” My eyes glanced over the shock of the crowd, hushed whispers and broad smiles. I never knew I could draw such a reaction from anyone.


Turn your answer to the Dig Deeper question into a short story, a poem or micro fiction – a one-paragraph story. Show us the episode through sensory description so we feel/see/taste/smell/hear what happened vs. being informed about it. Try to show us — vs. tell us — the impact this event had on you.

Bristles of false gray whiskers tickle m nostrils as the lights dim over the replicated Lapin Agile. Knuckles crack, coughs echo, someone beats their heel against the hardwood floor backstage. We all have our methods to prepare ourselves before making our entrance on stage. Vulnerablity is the one thing we have in common before we emerge from the shadows, transforming into someone else. To the famous artist and lover, German scientist, bartender or a singer from the future. Or a man named Gaston.

I count to complete my transformation. I crack four knuckles on each hand. Eight knuckles cracked. My parents will be in the audience tonight. Two family members. Gasoline and onions rise from my prosthetic beard, eyes tearing. Four eyes searching for me in the dark. Licking my lips, two halves forming a whole, cracked and bleeding hot liquid tasting of salt. Two pairs of hands clapping if I succeed. Pain rises from the arch in my foot, to my leg, stomach, throat. Potatoes with salt and sour cream on the back of my tongue. Two pairs of hands clapping if I fail. Blood, potatoes, salt and sour cream trickle down my throat.

Sawdust and alcohol glue the door shut, door and frame freshly painted green with a false maple trim. Vocals drop from soft and nasal to gruff and booming. My Gaston was a smoker, probably still is if such an act was permitted on a Quaker stage. Golden doorknob chills my palm, sweat loosening my grip. The lights rise, cobalt yellow glides from the tip of the stage, wooden table with two chairs, the bar stool Gaston rarely leaves, the oak bar completed just days before. Clinking glasses send melodic high pitched rings over the hushed crowd. The bartender busying himself waiting for my arrival. Ten toes press against the inner soul of my shoes. Waiting for Gaston. One of three vest buttons strains under the pressure of one white pillow stuffed within my pants and hunter green shirt.

“TRA-LA-LA,” on pitch, on time, sawdust rising to the lights, alcohol burning my eyes. One door unmoving.

They wait for Gaston. I wait for Gaston. Chain smoking, playful, lonely Gaston. Singing despite the stray hairs from his beard entering his mouth, the pillow pressing against his chest, fingertips trembling, jaw locking, eyes shifting, mind wondering, Should I step around the door? Gaston.

Gaston, who retreats into the shadows, raises his leg, knee bent and ready. Inhales and swallows the hair once attached to an animal, the glue holding his beard to his mouth and chin, the lavender perform of an actress as she watches.

The sound of thunder overwhelms the ringing of glass, door rocking the frame as it opens.


And there is Gaston. He enters the Lapin Agile and the crowd erupts in whispers, finger extended and shaking as their eyes absorb him. He strides to center stage, singing at the top of his lungs to be heard when no one else thought he had a voice. He sings to his parents in the second row, father rubbing his eyes while mother raises two thumbs and mimes her applause. And he sings, despite the soreness pulsing from his foot, arms extended, waiting for the bartender to place his first pretend glass of whiskey in his grasp.

  The Cast from my High School’s Production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile. From Right to Left, I’m the Second Person Standing Next to the Guy Dressed in all White.