Face2Face With Gelato

OK, now, I’m optimistic.

Last week, Face2Face improv had our first show at a new venue — Sam & Greg’s Pizzeria and Gelateria on the square in downtown Huntsville.

We’d rehearsed there last Monday for the first time, trying to figure out how to work in the unusual performance space at the venue. We left a little more comfortable, and ready to put what we’d figured out into practice the next night at our first show there.

The plan is that we’ll be doing shows every Tuesday night there.

Last Tuesday, to be honest, didn’t leave me overly optimistic about that prospect. The show was horrible. We failed to engage the audience, and had an incredible hard time getting suggestions from them. Things we’d figured out in theory about the performance space the night before proved a bit tougher to implement in practice. We toughed through the show, and made it to the end. I’m hardly one to give up after one bad experience, so I took a positive attitude of, well, we’ll just have to work out the kinks.

So last night was going to be the first step towards doing so, and it had a rather inauspicious beginning.

Fifteen minutes before the show was supposed to start, with no one there, we were discussing the fact that none of us had actually heard from anyone planning on coming to the show.

Five minutes before the show was supposed to start, with no one there, we were discussing how long we should wait before we gave up.

Five minutes after the show was supposed to start, with no one there, we took Matt, who hadn’t been there before, up on stage, and used the opportunity to let him get a feel for it.

Fifteen minutes after the show was supposed to start, with no one there, we gave up, put our stuff away, and headed out.

As we did, the guy behind the register caught us, and asked us about the check. Huh? “Did you sell some tickets?”

As it turns out, yes, he had. There was a large group that was finishing eating, and wrapped up and came upstairs as we were talking to him. We came that close to walking out on a pretty packed house.

And the show was great. The audience was great, we were much more comfortable with the venue, and we put on a pretty decent performance.

So … not a bad night after all. There may be hope for this yet.

Lead Us Now Into Temptation

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “Temptation.”

Divorce does weird stuff to you.

I’m totally using that as an excuse, but it’s true. So I’m not proud of the following anecdote, but it, also, is true.

There’s a deep sense of loneliness following a divorce. At least, assuming you’ve done it right. That’s kind of a given. And, again, assuming you’ve done it right, there’s going to be a sense of rejection. Generally, even if you’re the one who filed, that sense of rejection is there — if the other person had loved me enough, we wouldn’t be in this situation. And, of course, there’s a whole catalog of other hurts and damages, but those are the important ones at the moment.

And that’s where I was when I started the DivorceCare class. And where, really, I still was when we reached Week 10 of the DivorceCare curriculum — “Single Sexuality.”

Now, the curriculum for that week, as for the program as a whole, is meant to be encouraging. It’s very positive, focused on promoting the idea that you will heal from this, that things will get better, that life will go on. That particular week, of course, was focused on being encouraging in doing the right thing, in not allowing the hurt to cause you to do something you’d regret later or that would make things worse. Being a church-based religious curriculum, it takes the position that sex is something that should be saved for (another) marriage.

All of which is well and good, to be sure. And in encouraging that, it addresses the issue of temptation. How you’re going to be faced with temptation, and it’s important that you not give in. How as a single person again, you’re going to have to deal with sexual pressure.

And, you know, my thought at the time — really, not so much. I’m going into this dealing with loneliness, I’m dealing with rejection, and this church video is telling me that I should be having to fend off sexual advances. And, trust me, at that point, I totally wasn’t.

I had really barely dated before my wife, and had real self-esteem issues in the relationships area from that period. And nothing had happened in the time since the collapse of my marriage to disabuse me of those notions. Heck, even before the divorce was official, the first volley of my new singleness came in the form of a preemptive rejection. “Just in case you’ve thought about asking me out, don’t.” In my mind at the time, it might as well have been signed, “Every woman on Earth.” Heck, given my line of work, you might as well tack on, “And any not on the Earth at the moment.” I didn’t even have a chance to ask someone out before I was rejected.

That’s where I was. And here’s this church video telling me that a normal divorced person is going to have to be refusing advances, turning down temptation. Wow.

My thought at the time was, literally, this — “Where’s my temptation?”

To be sure, I was still hurting. I was still damaged. At that point, I had just seen my ex-wife, I think, the day before. I hadn’t completely given up an trying to work things out, and certainly hadn’t really moved on. I wasn’t ready for a new relationship, sexual or otherwise. And I knew that. That’s not what I wanted.

But I wanted the temptation. Specifically, I wanted the affirmation. I wanted to be wanted. I wanted to be found attractive. I wanted to be found desirable. It was far less about wanting to act on the temptation, or wanting what the temptation was for, as it was just wanting there to be temptation.

To be honest, that’s been a constant struggle ever since. Not just the sexual aspect from DivorceCare; I want assurance of my worth, emotionally, intellectually, etc. I want affirmation. I want confirmation. I want to be wanted. I want to be loved, to be sure, but in the meantime, I want assurance that I’m lovable. “Peace in the struggle / To find peace / Comfort on the way / To comfort.”

And it’s insiduous. Those things are no longer driving. I’m not remotely who I was at the time of the divorce. I’m no longer hungry for that affirmation. Partially because of external circumstances, partially because I’m more rooted in who I am. I don’t need it anymore.

But, every once and a while, it comes around. Somebody affirms me in a way that was completely unexpected, and it feeds something within me that still isn’t completely gone —

The temptation to be tempted.