I was a fledgling black singer with dirty boots. We were about to begin our routine when my lead partner in a fiery red dress whispered to me, "Remember to catch the cigarette's ash."This of course added more anxiety and pressure as it was to be my debut performance with this established star. I was wearing an all white dress and black army boots. No we weren't a punk R&B duo. Before we began our first song my diva partner stopped the show so we could buy brand new boots. Strange thing was the retail counter was steps away from the performance area and audience. We got our clean new boots and I paid with a credit card. My whole exchange with the cashier was in Spanish, from her asking me our sizes to swiping the card, in Espanol. But I thought I was a black singer? Of course black people, or any people for that matter, can speak Spanish. But this was my dream and in my dream I was speaking Spanish with a Chicano accent. I was Paul speaking Spanish but in the body of Jennifer Hudson. Yes I was her! Jennifer, who I have a secret crush on since American Idol.
Now the place I was in was cross between a glass house truck stop, Vegas lounge room and an open air barn. I slept in one of the horse stalls, although no horse were to be seen. I was a hired ranch hand at this truck stop/Vegas lounge/barn. i think I was retired from acting as I loved watching the comings and goings of people who wanted to be discovered by Joey Pants. Joey was the lounge manager and mover and shaker. Always in a suit and thin black tie, he wore Wayfarer rims with slick black curly hair. He was a cross between a young Andy Garcia and a mature Cary Grant, he was ageless and beautiful. We were old friends from childhood and he had given me the ranch hand job. He was always on me about retiring, saying "none of these kids know how to act, come back Paulie." People would be in shock when he would stop to talk to me as I guess I had that whole James Dean/Jet Rink look going on, but pre-Little Reata oil discovery. I mean I looked like a mess and yes I wasn't Jennifer Hudson yet. Not yet.
But I did not want the spotlight anymore. i was happy watching the wheels go round as a ranch hand in the shadows of the truck stop/Vegas lounge/barn. Strange I know, but again this was my dream and this Chicano was soon to be a black Dreamgirls loving singer. But I was gonna be Hudson, who was the budding wannbe in that film. So whatever the show was comedy, drama, song or dance. I thought to myself I could do better but keep on with my ranch duies. Did I mention the lounge was outdoors? Yup, with booths and window borders looking out onto the desert landscapes. It was show time and some how I was still Paul and had agreed to perform. I had friends show up, milling about the outside booths, some even getting heatstroke. This caused me to panic and I quickly stepped out of the truck stop/Vegas lounge/barn.and took off on my bicycle.
Fleeing fate, I came upon a road I recognized. I saw that fresh pavement and asphalt had recently been slapped down. I notice the new and the old and where those points meet.. I just circled that road on what was a tiny bike for me, thinking about everything and nothing. I was becoming her as my fear of fate turned into the desire to perform. The road ahead of me became clear as the bike turned into a snug white dress and the mud from my boots as a ranch hand had to be replaced with a new pair. As much as dreams fascinate they also leave you with wonder. Yes, I had gone that road from fear to absolute wonder on how being creative helps the world. Wonder to perform, wonder to create and just wonder why I had to become Jennifer Hudson at all. See you on down the road and "Remember to catch the cigarette's ash."