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"At the expense of truth?"
Then it was time to perform.
Nugget choreographer Marcia Harp, who studied dance in New York, was a stewardess for Pan American, is married to a soccer coach and has her master's in theater from San Francisco State, devised a simple routine. Reaching for optimum accuracy, Berg told three real Nuggets to pretend to try out with me.
Marcia showed us the steps, then stood back to watch. Jo McManus went first and did fine. She was followed by Paulette Rice, a soul sister who reminded us, "I've got natural rhythm, baby." She definitely had something I did not. Diane Tucker, a former music teacher and model who was once Miss Indiana State University, took her turn, and then I was on.
So much for the wine. I faked it, finishing with some truncated steps I dredged up from a junior high tap dance routine. They all applauded anyway.
The worst was last. I had been singing to myself all day as I walked the streets of San Francisco, trying to relax—even though they couldn't really reject me. The accompanist, Phil Reeder, said, "O.K., sing America the Beautiful. You do know the words, don't you?"
I made the usual jokes that nervous people who would rather die than humiliate themselves always do. Phil said, "Sing."
It was pathetic. I even felt sorry for me. It is simply impossible to produce pear-shaped tones when your stomach and heart are crowding each other for stage center in your esophagus. I hit a couple of good notes, which caused some heads to nod approvingly, but for the most part it was Mrs. Miller.
The best review came from Glenn Thomas, the March of Dimes man, who charitably remarked, "That took a lot of guts."
"I'm not a bad singer at all when I'm alone or singing in the group," Jo McManus said, "but when I tried out I sounded terrible."