Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Debut Performance at The Moth

Remember when I said I didn’t have any good stories to tell? That wasn’t true. I have one good story. About the time I went to Area 51 with a bunch of X-Files fan friends and ended up stranded in the Nevada desert by myself. I’ve always considered it my only Moth-worthy story.

So when I looked at The Moth StorySLAM schedule and noticed the theme on my birthday was “Ditched,” I knew it was time to lose my Moth virginity.

I began by inviting friends to witness my debut, partly for the support and partly so I wouldn’t chicken out. The die had been cast.

I practiced telling my story out loud several times, timing it, streamlining the details to get it down to the five minute limit. I probably should have typed it up, but life was in the way of such detailed preparation. I did a few dry runs while driving in the car and hoped for the best.

On the night, most of my friends were surprised to hear that names would be pulled out of a hat. There was a chance I wouldn’t get to tell my story at all. I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. Whatever happened would happen.

The evening began with a lukewarm bang. The early stories were random at best. One seemingly crazy man ripped his shirt off during his story, leaving my friends cringing with unease. Was this going to be the trend all night?

But eventually the stories got better. One woman told a heartbreaking story about getting ditched at a hotel in Salt Lake City by her boyfriend. Another guy told a fascinating story about offering a ride to a nurse sitting at a bus station, only to realize she was a crazy homeless person. The long process of trying to ditch her was edge-of-the-seat compelling.

Still, my name hadn’t been picked. Then one of my friends, who’d also put his name in the hat, got called to tell his story. Then a second friend in my group got to tell her story. My friends started to cross their fingers in the air each time the host picked from the hat, only to let out an audible “Aww!” when it wasn’t my name. They looked at me each time, checking for the disappointment they expected must be creeping in.

Finally, it was time for the last storyteller of the night. The crossed fingers raised high in the air. My friends closed their eyes and mumble-chanted, “Teresa, Teresa, Teresa…”

The host read the name into the mic. “Teresa Huang.”

I’ll never forget the sound of my friends screaming for joy in unison. Everyone else in the place must have thought we were crazy. I explained when I got on stage that it was my birthday. And then I told my story.

My time on stage went by quickly. The lights were so bright, I could barely see anyone in the audience, let alone my cluster of friends near the back. I felt confident while telling my story, grateful for all my preparation and able to let go and just have fun.

After my story ended, the judges gave their scores. And while the Taiwanese part of me remains ever humble to a fault, I’m happy to report that I received the second highest score of the night! (The winner was the guy who told the story about ditching the homeless woman from his car.)

All in all, a thrilling night and the most perfect birthday I could have hoped for. Thanks to my beautiful friends who came out to support me. And thanks to the #xf-romantics for inspiring the story in the first place!

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