Friday, August 19, 2005

Why we call him Showcase

"Whatever you do, just PLEASE don't make me seem gay!"
--Showcase, upon hearing about this post

I met Showcase back in college, when both of us were overconfident theatre majors. I caught my first glimpse of him in the lobby of the theatre building sometime in the first week of school, after "Generals"-- the nerve-racking fall audition process for every show that would be mounted that quarter. Freshmen were rarely cast in anything to start off, but there he was, initialing beside his name on half a dozen callback sheets. SO smug, so happy. Add that to the fact that I wasn't called back for anything, and my first impression of Showcase equals asshole.

A few days later a girl in my dorm introduced me to her best friend from home who lived just down the hall from us. It was Showcase. But this time, we became fast friends. I had a sickeningly large collection of original cast albums at the time and we began a tradition that continues today-- "musical theatre night." All it really consisted of then was the two of us playing different showtunes on the Aiwa mini-stereo I had received for my high school graduation and taking turns singing along with our favorites at the top of our lungs. Showcase would do "Mr. Cellophane" or "One Song Glory." I'd answer that with "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" or "Being Alive" or even "Vanilla Ice Cream," just so I could show off with the high B at the end. Nowadays, we have a karaoke machine. Well, actually two. I got Showcase one for Chanukkah a couple of years back only to have my parents gift me with the exact same machine (down to make and model) on Christmas. So we keep the other one in the bathroom.

But that's not really how he got his name.

The two of us became roommates only a little over a year ago. I hadn't wanted to live with him up until then, though we had discussed it a number of times. Neither of us had a good history with people we'd lived with, and I really really really didn't want to screw up anything with us. But he was living with this bipolar fuckup of a kid who would drink two bottles of $5.99 wine from 7-11 every night before passing out on the living room sofa. At some point in the middle of the night, he would inevitably need to urinate having injested so much liquid, and in the state he was in, he'd seemingly forget where the bathroom was located in the apartment. Sometimes he'd pee himself, still prone on the couch. Other times, he'd aim into the kitchen sink full of dishes.

Well Showcase couldn't handle the urine, so we moved in together.

The name came later. He's an actor and a comedian, dramatic by nature and almost always "on." Each story is a monologue, each hummed tune an aria. To him, at least. A vertiable 24-hour talent "showcase."

At the moment, he's shirtless and barefoot, crooning "Put on a Happy Face." Well, perhaps crooning isn't the right adjective. He has broken out into full-on performance mode, as if our scuffed, slightly dusty harwood floor were the Winter Garden stage.

"And now, I'm going to sing about the gayest song ever. While our neighbors are home, mind you." I constantly tease him that he doesn't sing nearly as much as he used to since two cool straight guys moved in upstairs a couple of months ago. He was about to prove me wrong, at least for tonight.

A lilting string intro poured out of the speakers, and then, in full baritone-- "ohhhh what a beautifful morrrr-nnningg, ohhh what a beautiful day."

And I'm right at home.

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