In the past month I’ve had two opportunities to talk about The Beauty Experiment– and the years that have surrounded it–to a live in-person audience. As a writer I’m often secluded in my attic office, with only my tea and my inner editor to keep me company, and it seems I’ve forgotten how exhilarating it is to connect with living humans via eye-contact, laughter, and questions! I spent nearly every semester during high school and college in rehearsal for some theatrical creation or other, often writing my own monologues for the experimental shows. In graduate school I taught sections of several different courses, sometimes calling up my then boyfriend, now husband John to tell him how well my 39B section on Parody went that day.
Of course my kids know all about my performative side; they see it on a daily basis, but the universe of adult behavior frowns on silly walks and loud singing in public. Just yesterday my daughter was apalled by an elderly woman belting it out near the granola in our local grocery. Granted, there were other markers of unusualness in this woman, but Hattie’s reaction made me realize how narrow the strictures of public behavior are, and how a healthy dose of skepticism toward them is something I want my kids to have. The larger-than-life self is a very useful tool for everyone, not just the property of professional performers.
We’ll be watching more flash mob videos on YouTube, I think.