Some years ago, our local community theater announced auditions for Annie. My daughters both wanted to try out and prepared an adorable rendition of "Swing on a Star."
When we arrived at the theater, I was told that I wouldn't get to watch their auditions unless I was also auditioning. I explained I had nothing prepared, but was assured that a simple rendition of "Happy Birthday" would be enough. I went into the audition and with no small amount of pride, watched my girls perform their hearts out. They were amazing. Then I stepped up and stupidly sang "Happy Birthday." It was extremely embarrassing, but totally worth it to be able to watch my girls.
Two days later, call-backs were posted. Just as I'd expected, the girls were called back, but much to my surprise--dismay even--so was I. We all ended up being in the play together, the girls as orphans (with speaking and solo singing parts!) and me as one of the Boylen sisters. In the part of a Boylen sister, I was supposed to be one of four glamorous but ditzy sisters who perform on the radio. The director expanded the part of the Boylen sisters and had us sing a half-hour set of Christmas songs before the play and during the intermission. I was much more on display than I'd ever dreamed of being.
Performing was new and somewhat awkward to me. This feeling was heightened by the fact that--how to put this delicately--I was the plumpest of the sisters, and felt oh, so self-counscious about it.
Desperately wanting to do something about it, I asked myself "What did women in the 1930s do to look trimmer? They wore a girdle--a steel-belted, suck you in in all the right places girdle. I began shopping for one and you know what, they just don't make them like they used to. Either because she felt sorry for me, or because she hated me, the sales clerk at a store devoted to women's unmentionables, suggested that I get Ace bandages and cinch myself in that way.
The night of the dress rehearsal came and I created a pretty convincing waist with my ace bandages. I was happy with the results as I looked in the mirror, even thinking to myself that this might be a little trick I'd want to try for other occasions.
About half-way through the performance, I could feel the bandages shifting. They were getting pretty uncomfortable. In fact, they stinkin' hurt. About three-fourths of the way through the performance, I began to feel sick--light-headed, dizzy, clammy and a little nauseated.
My sister, who was also playing a Boylen sister, suggested that I might feel better if I took off the ace bandages. We went into the deserted theater bathroom to remove them. I was miserable. My face was pale and chalky and the room was literally spinning. While leaning against the sink for support, I removed the suit jacket. We were stunned at what we saw. The Ace bandages had all slipped and were in one super-tight band around my waist. I looked like link sausages. No wonder I felt sick. I was cutting myself in half!
I abandoned the whole girdle/Ace bandage idea and for the three weeks of the show I tried to ignore that fact that I wasn't as thin as the other Boylen sisters. The price of an instantly thin waist was just too high.