Story time! Now this has nothing to do with acting, however I’m sure you can find a parallel in there somewhere.
So back in high school, I used to do something called Forensics. Now this is not, as most assume, the brand of science made popular by shows like CSI and NCIS where investigators use scientific evidence at a crime scene to solve a case (I did take a Forensics science class, but that’s neither here nor there). This Forensics was instead competitive public speaking, so named because the actual definition of the word itself is, according to Merriam-Webster, “belonging to…courts of judicature or to public discussion or debate” (actually we were told it was because the word meant something along the lines of “to dissect in search of the truth” but I couldn’t find that exact definition).
While I never did any type of competitive sports in high school, I was a major competitor in Forensics, joining the team my freshman year and advancing to the national competition three out of my four years. Now I was far from being popular, but no one could deny my talent at forensics. I recall a classmate of mine saying to me “Lizzy, you’re so great at that. I mean, people make fun of you all the time, but you’re great at that.” And people say I have social issues.
Anyway, I bring this up because last weekend, I went home to judge a Forensics meet for my old high school. While I must admit the pay and chance to veg out with my parents weremajor factors in my doing it, it’s always fascinating to see how much things have changed since I competed. The meet itself was by and large rather uneventful; since it was the final meet of the year and therefore smaller and quieter than usual, and at the risk of sounding snobbish or cruel, the performances didn’t wow me the way they used to. But the main reason I’m writing about this meet is something that happened between the rounds.
Part of my role as a judge is that I have to time the pieces, there being a rule that states that first place cannot be awarded to a piece that goes over the maximum time of 10 minutes 30 seconds. Since I don’t possess a stopwatch, I had to use my cell phone to time. Now I’m sure we all know that if you don’t use a cell phone for a particular amount of time, the screen goes dark and eventually you get locked out. This would have been really inconvenient for my judging, so while watching the pieces, I had to keep an eye on my phone and whenever I saw it going dark, I had to tap it back to life. This worked and did not affect the actual timing. So anyway, I finished judging one of my rounds, thanked everyone and wished them good luck, they thanked me and started walking out. Right when they were outside the door I heard a loud male voice say in an accusatory voice “She paused the timer every time she wrote a comment. I know because I saw her tapping her phone.” Bit of clarification, this was one of the competitors of the round I had just judged who happened to be sitting behind me (usually I’d sit in the back, but I needed to be close to an outlet since using the timer took a lot out of my phone and I had 6 potentially 10 minute pieces to time). This statement came as a shock to me, not so much that it was said, but that it was said in a place where he had to have known I could have heard him. Funny enough, when I competed, I got a lecture of this very kind from my coach at the time, who told me of an incident wherein she was judging and a competitor started complaining about “asshole judges,” unaware of the fact that she herself was a judge. Let’s just say the incident came back to bite him where it hurt.
I didn’t do anything dramatic, just wrote a short but not unkind comment on his ballot informing him that I did not in fact stop the timer, and I informed the higher powers of the Forensics meet. I had another incident with the same party later in the day, when I was assigned to judge one of the final rounds. Before the round started, I noticed that someone shut the door and, not wanting any of the competitors to think the round had started, went to open it.
The minute I opened the door, I came face to face with the young man who talked about me, who along with his friends was waiting to observe the final round of their category. His friend looked me in the eye and said “She a savage.” While it’s entirely possible
that he may have been referring to someone else, I like to think he was referring to me.