As I write on Monday afternoon, my Pandora feed is playing Brahms’s Hungarian Dance Number 5. It’s short, energetic, and an old favorite, a good mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Whenever I hear this particular piece, it reminds me of a game I used to play with my sister. Somehow, in my childhood imagination, I invented a character named Clancy the Ant. I would jump out of the closet in our bedroom and sing nonsense syllables to Hungarian Dance Number 5, cross my arms and kick my legs like a Russian folk dancer, then voice Clancy’s enthusiastic chants of hey-hey-hey to the music, going on and on long after the piece had supposedly ended. While it loses something in the telling, this performance would inevitably cause my sister to laugh, which was the whole point.
Why an ant? I have no idea. Why Clancy? No clue, either, about that or the Russian folk dancing. As for why Brahms, I can only say that classical music was always playing in our home. Our dad had a huge collection of vinyl records, and our parents had also gifted the two of us a small, electronic turntable in a little red carrying case. We had our own set of yellow vinyl 45s of short classical pieces for children. I don’t recall if the Hungarian Dance Number 5 was one of them. I do recall listening to Debussy’s Golliwogs Cakewalk on one of those yellow records—a wonderful, playful piece. My love of classical music was undoubtedly inspired by immersion in that milieu of beautiful sound.
Perhaps that was also the beginning of my desire to act. Tonight in my acting class, we have to present a monologue. Fortunately, we don’t need to memorize it—my one big worry, another hurdle to overcome. Performing in front of the group is not an issue, however. Last week I did a cold read of a monologue provided by our teacher and was amazed that I wasn’t scared at all. This time, I’m planning to perform a monologue from my yet-to-be-published World War I novel. As I wrote a few weeks ago, my goal in taking this class is to learn how to sink more deeply into my characters. So, here I go, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll stir the universe enough to attract an agent or even a publisher, at long last.
No ants, but certainly upping the ante.
Image: Mike Haupt