Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Penny

This post is for the benefit of people like Playmaker, and others who read my blog but do not know me personally. I am posting this story, by request, about why I carry a specific penny with me for every performance. But those who do not believe in the supernatural or miraculous need not read on.

My father died in 1985. As a younger person, that was the only year I could think of that reminded me of him. I never knew or remembered the year he was born. So when ever "1985" would appear somewhere, I would, for years, think of my father. Still do, sometimes.

Now flash forward many years. My last semester of college. It was a time filled with personal tragedy. I did not end college on a good note by any definition. I didn't even bother attending the ceremony.

After that final semester, I had nothing to do, and no where to go. No mentors to guide me and no promising prospects. Instead of going home, I theorized that moving to my college town would be advantageous, as my network was mostly located there. I was wrong. My bad luck continued, and I got nowhere. I spent at most three months living in my college town after graduation.

Yet during those three months, for the first time ever, the college's drama department opened up auditions to the community, and not just to students and faculty of the college. I auditioned under these conditions. I figured the drama department had always been good to me, so why not make a comeback, albeit a brief one.

To make a long story short, the process of rehearsals and such did little to ease my inner pain. Opening night came, and I was still pretty low. By then I knew I would not be able to stay in town once the show closed. This and many other things weighed on my mind as I paced back and forth backstage, my custom always in the final minutes before a curtain. This night, it was in the nearby prop room.

During that anxious pacing, I did something that was rare for me...I wondered what my father would think of my theatre endeavors. Whether he would approve, or want me to get off my ass and do something real with my life. Almost as soon as I thought this, I heard something behind me. When I turned around, there was a penny sitting on the filthy concrete floor of the prop room. It had not been there moments before when I walked past. I know this because I always stare at the floor as I walk.

I approached the coin, and saw it was tails up. Most people will tell you that you are supposed to leave a tails-up penny alone. I am not one to conform, and instead said to myself, "if, by some strangeness, this mystery penny should bear the year "1985" on the front, I know what it means, and where it came from."

I bent down, picked it up, and slowly turned it over in my fingers. As though out of a script, "1985" jumped right out at me. It seemed destined to happen. I was moved, but in the end not surprised, somehow.

The call for places was made, and I stuck the penny into my pocket, and kept it there for the rest of the performance. I put it back in my pocket the following night, and for every performance for the rest of the run. It has been in my pocket, or otherwise on my person for every performance of every major production I have been in ever since, up to and including this past Sunday morning. (Though it was safely taped to the top of my foot, so as to not fly out of my pocket during the dance numbers.)

So there you have it. The where and the why of what has come to be known by my circle of colleagues as "Ty's Penny".

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