I’ve always loved this quote…. Then again, I’ve always been a bit of a Shakespeare junkie (with special thanks to Mr. Schmit, my high school English Teacher). We all spend an enormous amount of time playing our roles in life, putting forth our best efforts, showing our best sides to our audiences…. As Shakespeare said, we all in our time play many parts.
I was reminded of this quote last night and again this morning when a few things I observed made me think not necessarily about the plays and shows and roles we put on for the public eye, but more about what happens behind the scenes. What are the things we do behind the curtain, backstage, that we attempt to keep hidden from view? The ugly, messy, real-life us that only those closest to us, and the most observant, ever experience? No, I’m not talking about scary dirty skeleton-in-the-closet stuff (this is not that kind of blog!). I’m talking about what happens when we take off the costumes and make up and set aside our public personae?
Last night on my way home, I drove by the small carnival that has been set up in the middle of our town – music was playing, lights were flashing, rides were spinning, people were happily roaming around enjoying the summer weather and the home-town excitement that can be found while spending large sums of money on games that can’t be won and fried dough that shouldn’t be eaten. It was a sparkly sight. This morning, on my way in to work, I went by the same site. The rides of course are off, everything shuttered until later today, no lights, no sound….. and behind the carnival area, in a large parking lot, are the campers and trailers where the carnival workers are staying while in town. Several of them were emerging and heading across the street for their morning cup o’ joe at Dunkin Donuts. Definitely not a sparkly sight…. It was the backstage view, behind the scenes, not so pretty.
A bit later, I saw a man standing, straddling his bicycle, in the shade, by the side of the road. He was smoking a cigarette. At first I laughed at the irony…. Could he not wait until he got to his destination, but had to stop something healthy like biking in order to have a smoke? And then I thought again about how this was his private, behind the scenes moment. Maybe he had no other form of transportation. Perhaps he’s not allowed to smoke wherever he was going. Maybe he wants others to believe he’s not smoking, and on a health kick with the bicycle. Conflicting images for sure.
I thought of my own public and private life, and that of so many other Real Women out there. Each morning, I do my best to look presentable & professional for my job. Careful selection of clothing, make sure hair and make-up are done, etc. However, by the end of the evening, after a day of work, errands in the hot weather and maybe a workout or bike ride, the backstage me emerges – disheveled, sweaty, pony tail up, glasses on. I’ve definitely stepped off stage.
And as for my surroundings…. My set props, if you will…. Those too vary between public and private viewing appropriateness. Last night, with my hubby home sick, my teenage son home on school vacation, and me out of the house for 12 hours, I came home to a somewhat disheveled environment. Dishes in the sink, food crumbs on the counter, various bits of clothing laying around, stuff piled on the kitchen table, and my dog pacing waiting to be fed. Yup, I thought, this is my backstage, nothing the public should see.
This past weekend, my husband and his friend were giving me some teasing because I made a comment about wanting to prep the house for this upcoming weekend visit of some of my family members. His friend said “my wife does the same thing, she goes nuts preparing and cleaning the house. I don’t get it.” I pointed out that men are just as likely to want to make sure the lawn is mowed, the workshop cleaned up, and the cars washed before visitors arrive. Even if the audience is “just” family or close friends, we still want to make sure our stages are set, and we have our best public appearance in place.
After all, who doesn’t love making a grand entrance?