Jason Vs. Freddy Stage Fright

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Overcoming Stage Fright.

Submitted: March 16, 2017

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Submitted: March 16, 2017

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Jason Vs. Freddy Stage Fright 

I couldn’t help but think about how much I hated countdowns, as when I heard, “Jason,” from where I was standing behind the backstage curtain. “You’re on in five.”

I turned myself towards the stage coordinator, the guy with the clipboard and headset. Nodding my head once, while listening to the three thousand feet thumping repeatedly from the opposite side of this curtain. The chaos of a thousand different conversations happening simultaneously. And all of them were about me. My company. My product.

My palms were cold, clammy, sweaty. Like I’d just stuck them into a pot filled with steam. My heartbeat was elevating, like an elevator that only went straight to the top floor of a penthouse suite. And those nervous ticks that were developing on my right eye certainly weren’t helping to alleviate the quivering tone of my voice in a few moments time.

It was stage fright at its worst. And it absolutely sucked to go through.

When I was younger, my mother would call it “Freddy,” because of that terrifying Freddy Krueger who lives inside our nightmares.

I’d often think of him when I ran for class president in the third grade. And then in the sixth grade. But by the time I was the class president of my graduating class, I knew that this fear would stick around. Haunting me for the rest of my life.

And it has.

It’d stuck with me when I spoke to a dozen reporters about the sale of my first Robotic Software company. It’d stuck with me when I’d proposed to my wife, from underneath Niagara falls. And It’s stuck with me whenever I speak in front of the congregated parents at my son’s little league games.

All of the parents tilting their heads from where they sat on the bleachers, wondering, Why are Jason’s hands shaking like tremors?

And why does his voice sound like it's underwater?

Damn you Freddy, I thought, as I heard, “Are you alright, sir?” from behind my frozen stance in front of the closed curtain.

It’s a familiar voice for me to hear, as I raised my lips into a smirk before turning to face him.

It’s Robert. And he’s the sole reason for why I’m more nervous than the Pope attending a KKK rally.

“It’s just a human condition,” I deflated. “Stage fright.” Knowing that, like a dog, Robert couldn’t possibly understand why a person would ever clench into a ball of nerves while speaking in front a group of his own species. He only sympathizes. Just like we’d programmed him to behave.

If you were to meet Robert, you probably wouldn’t assume that there was anything different about him. He has a pleasant face. A slim and average body. And he likes to put his hands in his pockets when he’s concerned about his lifelong friend. Me.

But what makes Robert different from you or me is the reason why three thousand scientists, journalists, fan-boys, hobbyists, politicians, and competitors had been eagerly awaiting inside this arena all morning.

I watched as Robert nodded his head from in front of me - the one that cost Robo Inc. eight hundred million dollars to develop. He’s truly a miracle machine. One that could react to nervous tensions from flawed humans (like myself). One that could do your taxes, wash your dishes, feed your kids (sometimes all at the same time).

His motions are fluent, natural. Just like his ability to learn, and his ability to want to learn.

In short, he’s the reason why the plot of the movie Terminator was on the minds of everybody who’d seen Robert’s face painted on every TV, billboard, and subway car in the nation.

Because Robert is Artificially Intelligent.

And Robert is freaking awesome.

Well. My only hope is that the world will think of him as awesome, when I’d present him to the masses on this day.

I watched him as his artificial eyes softened, his head tilting, concerned. “What’s stage fright?”

And I sighed and nodded back to him. “An illogical fear.”

But Robert doesn’t know this feeling. What Robert does know, however, is when to be socially aware of other people’s emotions - which is still a mind-boggling concept for me to wrap my head around.

With a somber reaction, Robert decided to make the right ‘human choice’ in the moment. He said nothing at first. He only pursed his lips and played with a piece of lint in front of his feet.

“Do you want to talk about it?” He eventually asked.

“That’s nice of you,” I released a nervous smile. “But I think this is one of the few aspects of my life that you can’t assist me with.”

“Is it something that I can learn?”

I laughed. “I don’t think you’d want to learn stage fright, Rob.”

“Can you give it away?”

“I wish.”

“From what I’m reading about it online, it seems like it’s a fear of public speaking.”

I gave him a point, glad that his software was connecting to the theatre’s wi-fi. “Correct-a-mongo, my friend.”

“Are you afraid of eventually speaking to this audience today?”

“Afraid.” I sighed, hearing the anticipating crowd’s conversations grow by the second. “And then terrified.”

“Oh.” Robert tilted his head again, seemingly more concerned. Worried, even. But only because he wasn’t happy unless I was happy.

A true living definition of Altruism.

“But let’s not talk about this.” I tried taking my mind off the subject. “Let’s talk about you. Are you ready?”

Robert grew a perfected and natural smile. “Yes.”

“Do you know your directions for on-stage movements? What to say?”

“Yes,” he nodded, before giving me a curious stare. Of course he knew every minute detail of this presentation. It’d been programmed inside his mind for the past three weeks we’d been rehearsing this presentation.

He shook his head softly before adding, “But I’m not nervous.”

“Well that’s good,” I said with a laugh. “And that also makes one of us.”

“Two minutes, Jason,” the stage manager yelled.

And I sighed again. Great. There’s that countdown.

I fixed my tie from where I stood. Feeling the damp sweat begin to seep through my dress shirt, through my sports jacket. Thank god for teleprompters…

“I’m sure you’ll do great, sir,” Robert said, comforting.

My lips raised back to him. “Thank you, Robert.” My hand placed itself on his shoulder. “And you’re going to be the next ‘man’s best friend’.”

In which he laughed. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe you just compared me to a dog.”

I laughed, embarrassed. “Geez. I guess I did. Sorry about that.”

“Oh it’s fine,” he shrugged, with his pleasant face still attached. “If it helps distract you from your fear, you can call me a ‘bitch’, too.”

I laughed harder.

“Are you nervous right now?” Robert suddenly asked. And I tilted. “Are you nervous when you speak in front of me?”

“I am not,” I said with a smirk. Watching his beautiful mind crank its gears.

“Well, you know what you should do?” Robert suggested.

“What’s that?”

“You should think about ‘Bob’.”

“Bob?”

Robert nodded. “Yes. Bob. It just might work.”

“One minute, Jason.” The stage director yelled.

“Just a second,” Robert called back to him, before turning to me with a brightened face. “I have an idea.”

I chuckled. “I should have designed you with a light bulb attached, Rob.”

Robert smiled. “Since you’re not afraid of speaking in front of me, why don’t you pretend that the audience is just one giant ‘blob’ of a person? A blob in which we’ll name ‘Bob’.”

“Bob?”

Robert nodded back to me. His eyes oozing in excitement to help. “That’s right. Bob. If you trick your mind into believing that the audience is only one person who you’re presenting to, it’ll be no different than presenting to me.” Robert’s eyes widened bigger, to the size of planets.

“Bob,” I nodded. Almost in shock. “This your idea?”

Robert nodded, as my lips pursed. My head then began slowly shaking, needlessly in utter amazement of this machine.

And I almost couldn’t even believe it.

I couldn’t help but become amazed over who Robert was becoming. Knowing that his ‘Bob’ idea was his own creation. His own analogy to try to alleviate my own problem.

“You don’t like the idea?” Robert sank.

“No,” I said, with a sudden change in emotions. Like I was more than ecstatic to bring Robert into the world, to allow people to have these same helpful interactions with him, than ever being afraid of what a few thousand eyes thought of me.

“This is incredible.” I was in awe.

“What is?”

I put my hand on his shoulder, my face soaked in a smile. “It’s what my wife will say, when I tell her about the one person in the world who was able to defeat my Freddy Krueger.”

 


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