It seems that if one wanted to impress others, one had to follow a series of guidelines (or “rules”) that would bring some kind of success by the user-the person that wants to make a good impression with others to those that same user is looking for.
There have been dozens of self-help books that discuss the ways one can use to make that desired impression. In today’s high tech landscape, just a simple search asking the question “How to Impress People ” (or something to that effect) will bring hundreds of sources on this advice. Some are spot on, while others are there to accept for what its worth.
The rules are rather straightforward. One has to be authentic, live an impressive life(style), impress people where one works and/or attends school, using social gatherings as a background, etc. But long before Google searches became the norm, one could turn toward those for noted self-help books that were available, especially those published during the so-called “me” decade of the 1970’s, extending through the years well into the turn of the 21st century. But as a person starting out in life, I had to figure all of this out on my own with various methods of success.
I didn’t start the method of impressing people until I became an adolescent. As a kid, I really didn’t have to impress those around my domestic domain as I wasn’t worth a person who desired respect. A kid for the most part was taken for what the kid was worth. Of course, parents of the kid (or in this case, I am writing for myself as I was that “kid”), would accept me because I was their child. And parents, or at least at that time, always say their kid(s) as their number one. That was a given. But for others around me, I was taken for what I was worth to them. The adults were mostly those involved in my school situations, teachers and so on. My peer accepted me as part of the group, or “gang” so to speak. Besides, I wasn’t aware that I had to impress anyone, unless that someone was somebody I was seeking attention to.
That didn’t kick in until I became the age of the demographic known as “tweeners”, the age between eight and fourteen years old. Its sweet spot is around ten to twelve years old. This was the age where I was becoming aware of my situations that were outside of the home I lived in. There were more school connected adults and my peers.
As I became part of my “gang” within my school setting, this is where I felt I had to make a good impression to become accepted. Although I didn’t necessarily know it at the time, the adults I encountered outside of family didn’t need me to impress them, although I did make an effort to try. They, as adults, knew more about adolescents and how they behaved themselves that I expected them to know about. However, they were a tough audience. So I knew I had to cover all of the bases around me.
So I had to think of a method for making an impression. I was aware of those self help book titles that were available. But I didn’t care to read about the ways to impress. Because those books were not written for my kind as those were geared toward “grown-ups”, and I had yet to reach that point.
So I turned toward my most trusted source where I can learn about the world around me. And that source was television, the place that I “visited” for many hours per day through its many programs that were available at that time. I didn’t know what I saw on TV was “real” or “fake”. It was there at my disposal, so I accepted it. Besides, I didn’t have much of a choice in their matter, outside of those self-help books that didn’t impress me in the first place.
I began to notice the time where people would react to others in a positive light, and that was through the many talk shows that were on the air at the time. One program was The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. On his program, they had a bevy of personalities as guests, mostly in the entertainment field. I noted that when Johnny would speak to a guest, mostly actors and stand-up comics, they always had a banter going on. The guest, let’s say a comedian, always had something funny and interesting to say. When the person spoke, (s)he had laughs from the audience as well as for Johnny. Johnny would reply with some more witty banter, and so on. Their conversation never slacked, always having something interesting to say to make this talk as funny and amusing as it could get.
I was rather impressed with this form of communication. So I learned that in order to be accepted by others, one had to be witty and funny with something amusing to say and react. In other words, they were always “on”, never letting their pace fall into a lull.
So that is what I did. I always had to be turned “on” when I was with others with the notion that I would be accepted. So I always got into what others were saying around me, and had to follow up with a witty remark. If the situation was slow or even somber, I had to wait until the situation was enough where fast paced banter was fitting,
At first, it was rather easy with my gang. They were at the same level as I was. They were able to keep up the pace with me and vice versa. The adults were a little tricky to maneuver. They didn’t have the same pacing as I did, but were enough where I could be upbeat with them. Some did accept it, while others didn’t–something that I didn’t necessarily know about. When they didn’t respond to my patter the way I wanted them to, I learned that I should do one of two options. I should either keep my patter going until they were able to catch up, or I should slow down if not stop entirely until they gave me the “signal” to continue. I can’t recall what was more common, to proceed or to quit. But I didn’t know that those adults knew more of my routine, or “act” as one adult person now long forgotten once labeled my schtick. But for my group, their acceptance served me well.
As I grew older, the method of ever being “on” grew along as I did. I was still trying to be fast paced fully, making sure that that invisible “on” switch was in the right position.The audience I was connected to changed, but not the methods. Keep “on” and stay “on”. That was the rule.
To make a longer story short(er), this continued through my so-called “young adult” days where there were less “grown ups” to deal with replacing those older adults with many more of my peers. I was still at the age where as an adult, I could still get away with what I was doing, being the person who always had something to say and knew how to react.
This form of appearance did help me out quite a bit toward my career choices. I was able to impress professionals working in the media where I was able to get jobs (one that actually pay money) without formally applying. They just liked me because I was doing something right. And when I later became the host of a public access talk program called Accessibly Live, I was able to speak to the camera (and my audience) in the same method as many a late night TV show host could do. I was able to do such because of my “on” switch being in the right position.
As time progressed, I still had that switch in the “on” position, although I wasn’t as conscious of keeping the switch in its right position as my act was more as a given than a personality choice. I was so “on”, I didn’t necessarily know it! Just keep up the banter and the wit, and I would be fine. I did know when to turn on the charm and when to place it on hold. But when the time is right, then “on” I go!
Right around when I became middle aged is when I realized that being “on” all of the time didn’t cut it as it once did. I didn’t have a “middle aged” crisis per se, but I knew that things were a bit different. However, old habits die hard, so I kept on going, although I didn’t place much effort toward it as I once did.
What made the major change toward this form of attitude came around when the pandemic started to take hold. If one desires to be precise on when that occurred, one can use the weekend of March 13th-15th of 2020. It was around that time when this strange disease that has the name of COVID-19 started to make its rounds. Before long, everybody was hunkering down. And while I was part of that hunker down notion, this is when I realized that being “on” had more side effects, but not as a good kind. I realized that being “on” was causing me to move at such a fast pace, I didn’t know when (or how) to stop. I was going so fast, I was encountering burnout. And that burnout was even killing me.
So while others were staying home cooking foods they never cooked before, getting any kind of animal they could grab as a pet, and learned that ZOOM wasn’t a name of a sound effect or the title of a nearly forgotten TV series aimed at adolescent kids that was produced by WGBH-TV in Boston Massachusetts (02134!!), I then got the invisible memo informing me that it was no longer necessarily to be in the “on” state at all times.
As I see all of this, I did note that being “on” all of the time wasn’t as easy as it once seemed to be. At times, I sometimes had to try really hard to stay witty, especially if those around me weren’t reacting as I thought they would or when I just didn’t feel up to being a wit. I also had to plan just what to do when I could cross a tough audience. That just meant to work harder and faster, and that wasn’t a sure success. When it didn’t work, I knew I had to stop. When this occurred, I became a failure.
But one thing I didn’t know when I started taking the lessons on how to make an impression. When those Tonight Show guests were appearing on TV with their chatter, I didn’t know that the reason they were being witty and funny was because they were being paid to appear on those programs! (They were receiving the minimum pay scale that AFTRA, the labor union that covers television performers, required at the time.) So it was part of their job to be upbeat, and Johnny did the same although he was earning more than his guests would be making.
So what did I get out from all of these sessions with my “on” switch? I learned that one can impress others with one’s ability to community without being a fast paced comical genius. One would have to play the game of “give and take” by allowing others to communicate along the same lines as I would have to. And if one doesn’t have anything to contribute, then so be it. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. They may be the case for reality, although saying nothing doesn’t make great entertainment on TV.
Maybe this is the reason behind this as I am no longer that adolescent kid that had to learn all about life through TV. And perhaps I learned the difference between reality and what one views on a video screen. This separation between being real and what’s not still exists in the present day. Social media portals have proven this fact as well as the stats that came out with studies created by those that look upon these portals. But I do have to thank those long line or actors, comics, and others that graced the stages of late night TV, as well as through a few programs that aired during the daylight hours. And I am sure that there are other folks out there that did the same things that I did. This time, their audience came from social media outlets. They even were made “famous” while appearing through social media. The rest are still seeking their spot of fame. All I was doing was looking for respect. But to use a phrase spoken by a stand up comic whose name was forgotten, the older one gets, the less they even care about what others say.
Are these facts true? I must be because I read all about it on the internet!!
Open Fist Theater Company presents Catherine Butterfield’s TO THE BONE, a comedy about a family reunion that reunites a mother and her daughter, but not for the intended purposes of anything in the traditional sense.
The setting is in a working class neighborhood of Boston. Tisha Terrasini Banker is Kelly, a middle aged widowed mother of a nineteen year old son Sean. (Jack David Sharpe) who spends much of his days playing video games and reading graphic novels. Kelly lives with her sister Maureen (Amanda Weier) in their humble flat. Kelly also has a daughter named Geneva (Alice Kors), who she gave away for adoption many years before. Kelly made an attempt to contact her long lost daughter. Geneva, now attending Emerson College not too far away, is excited to finally meet her birth mother after all these years. She even brought along her roommate Darcy (Kacey Mayeda), a media major, to capture Geneva’s reunion with her mom as part of a documentary. Once arriving at Kelly’s home, Geneva discovers the real reason why her birth mom summoned her. It’s the start of how a family once torn apart is finally getting together bringing all of the dysfunction that goes along with reunions made for an intended purpose.
This play, written and directed by Catherine Butterfield, is a production that holds a blend of genuine laughter that spark the feistiness and “street tuffs” of what gritty Bostonians are really like, and even shows a bit of heart to these matters. Tisha Terrasini Banker as Kelly and Amanda Weier as Maureen (“Mo”) show those true colors of what make those Boston folks tick, as long as those colors are red as their sox! Alice Kors as Geneva is a young woman that was raised with a silver spoon in her mouth, being raised from a well-to-do family living in a tawny midwest community. She’s honored to be respected in spite of her circumstances. Jack David Sharpe as Sean is also one of her hard types, but due to his condition, he’s getting by rather well. And Kacey Mayeda as Darcy is an eager student that receives more from creating her future documentary than she expected.
Jan Munroe’s scenic desire of Kelly’s home reflects her working class roots. It shows that she can create a home making do with what she holds accessible.
Overall, this play is funny for its stereotypes depicted as noted, and holds a happy ending of sorts where everything and everyone receives their revision. The entire production takes the overall persona ‘to the bone’. Let’s all wish for the boys in red to make their season count this year at Fenway!
TO THE BONE, presented by Open Fist Theater Company and performs at the Theater 68 Arts Complex, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, until March 26th. Showtimes are Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM, Saturday matinees at 2:00 PM, and Friday night, March 10th at 8:00 PM.
For more information and to obtain tickets, go online at www.theatre68artscomplex.com
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2023 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!