Tragedy Plus Time: Everybody Plays The Fool

Deborah Gibson as Eponine on Broadway- Photo: Joan Marcus

Tragedy Plus Time
Everybody Plays The Fool
by Kate Tellers

It’s a truth as old as pi, tragedy plus time equals comedy. In this column I take my bumps, my bads and my beastlies to show you that, with a little bit of time, that milk that spilled is just as good as the proverbial banana peel.

Boys changed everything.


I will not get to sing Eponine today, this much is clear. My best friend Maura, with whom I’ve been singing the Boublil and Schönberg’s canon for these first few months of eighth grade has replaced Cosette’s first few phrases in “A Heart Full of Love” with “I’m embarrassed, I’m embarrassed,” and she’s not even in the right key. I try to help her along, “Maura!  NO FEAR NO REGRET!” — no luck. We’ve sung Les Miz a thousand times before, but today we are singing it over the phone to boys, cute boys who play hockey that Maura met a few weeks ago at a Friday Night Open Skate. She grabs the cordless and I can hear her giggling towards hyperventilation in my kitchen. I close the book of sheet music and wait for her to hang up.


Over our third bowl of after school cereal Maura announces that she and Dan talked on the phone for two hours last night. So basically it is serious. While to date I have received exactly one phone call from a boy, and Keith was just confirming the car pool for our piano recital, Maura is the poster child for the swatch phone. Before I can get jealous she tells me, “Dan and his friends want us to go to the rink on Friday.” Really? This time when they call and interrupt “The Movie in My Mind,” I don’t mind as much.


This time when the boys call, I answer the phone. They ask what we are doing and I tell them, really casually, that we’re just singing. Because we sing. Really well. And I also play the piano. There’s a lot of phone passing around and finally I hand the phone to Maura because at this point she’s been on the phone with them every night this week, and I think I’ll play to my strengths and quietly pick out “Stars” on the piano in the background. Probably Maura is going to go up into the woods with Dan on Friday, I wonder if I’ll go up too.


Maura is so tired today because she was on the phone with Dan all night. He sang to her! He sang “Beauty and the Beast,” because he knows she likes Disney songs and also it is about us. She giggles, I do not. There is one beauty and one beast here, and I am way behind on phone time to be the princess in the yellow dress. I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed. For the first time in my life I realize two things: One, I am not pretty to boys, and two, I desperately want to be. Even though Maura and I both share the same jewel toned mock turtlenecks from Limited Express, we do not look the same.  Her brown hair is straight and thick, mine is permed and frizzy. Her skin is smoother and tan, her waist is smaller and she does not have braces. Now that the boys have noticed, I see it too.


We go to the rink. While I wait with the boys for Maura and Dan I put my hair over my face and do a pitch perfect Eddie Vedder impression. It’s not getting me up into the woods any faster, but it makes them laugh. I know I can do that. Oh, and I kill on both the sides of the Ellen/Kim duet.


About Kate

Kate Tellers is a writer, director and performer whose recent projects include Gravid Water (actor) at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and the Charleston Comedy Festival premiere of Disco Balls (director). She sings with the band, Lavalier, and lives in Brooklyn where she's recently mastered the art of baking home made soft pretzels.
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