Once In A Lifetime

by Jenn (eating bender) on February 8, 2012

Tonight is one of those rare nights where I can honestly say that I’ve done something unrepeatable.


No, I did not join Cirque du Soleil. But I was, in theory, a temporary cast member at tonight’s performance of Quidam. What started as a continuation of Bobby and my tradition of attending Cirque shows quickly turned into a 10+ minute (at least!) impromptu performance.

Needless to say, I was blushing.

Here’s the story:

The first half of the show was as amazing as always. There was a great opener – a guy doing tricks on a large wheel – and several subsequent talents, which you can check out by previewing the show here. There was also a hilarious clown right before intermission who called a girl from the audience on stage and attempted to woo her in his imaginary car. The ironic part about this is that Bobby and I both thought the girl was an actress. She was just too good, and her cues were just too perfect.

She sat one row ahead of us – we were lucky enough to be on the floor – and I thought she’d likely sneak out during intermission. But when we came back after the break, we noticed she was still there with her boyfriend and chatting animatedly. I told Bobby that perhaps it wasn’t an act after all, and she just went along with the clown extremely well.

Fast forward to the second half of the performance. We’ve seen some true talent, from rope tricks to contortionists and everything in between. Suddenly, the clown is back with a fake old fashioned video camera and a door frame. He mimes to the audience that he needs four people to help him shoot a film.

The first person, he mimes, needs to be a woman (insert hourglass figure gesture here). The spotlight pans around the arena and, wouldn’t you know it, comes to rest on ME. I turn around, hoping it’s someone else, but there is no one there. Resigning myself to get over my natural stage fright, I get up and start walking toward the stairs. It’s cold in the arena, so I still have my coat on.

The clown gestures for me to take it off immediately. The crowd laughs in appreciation.

I approach the stage again, now coat-less, and the clown wraps a boa around my neck. In a whisper that only I can hear, he says, “Beautiful.” It doesn’t sound like much, but I found it comforting. Then he gestures for the audience to applause. Gratefully, they do (I need all the encouragement I can get).

Next the clown finds a young man to join me, a third gentleman who is slightly older than us, and finally, a fourth man that he refers to as needing to be on the “rounder” side (insert rude stomach gesture here). The audience is cracking up when he points to a man in the front row. At first, the man’s wife thinks the clown is talking about her.

“You’ve got to be kidding!” she screams, thinking he has just insulted her. When the clown clarifies that he means her husband, she says, “Oh, him? Well then yes, of course!” She proceeds to push him out of his chair, and he begrudgingly takes the stage.

I am mortified for him. The four of us together must have looked like deer in headlights.

The clown does nothing with the first man – who I assume is going to be interacting with me in some way – and gives the second man a bowler hat and flowers, leading him toward the door frame. He gives the fourth, full-figured man a beret and a clapperboard, instructing him to be the one responsible for marking each scene.

Here’s where the fun begins.

The first man – who we’ll call Charlie – and I are told we are to warm up by doing some rather lewd dance moves that include shaking our butts and, in my case, another set of assets that are a bit higher up. I follow Charlie’s lead and know I look ridiculous.

Next, Charlie and I are told that we are lovers. The clown asks Charlie to sweep me off my feet and onto the stage “floor,” where he must proceed to shower me with kisses. The audience is cracking up at this point, and my head is in my hands. For his part, Charlie is breathing heavy and obviously incredibly nervous – as in, just as nervous as I was. He starts to laugh uncomfortably. The clown must sense his hesitation because he decides that he ought to demonstrate, and in the next minute I am on the stage “floor” being showered with real kisses from the clown.

Did I mention this event was once in a lifetime?

Meanwhile, the second man – who we’ll call Frank – is supposed to knock on the door frame with his flowers, only to walk in on us doing our thing and become so upset that he pulls out a toy “real” gun and shoots Charlie dead. As Charlie dies, I am to become distraught and prance across the stage in agony, ultimately kneeling beside Charlie’s body and drinking poison from a vial. My last move before I die is, supposedly, to flash the crowd.

Let me say that again. Flash the crowd.

At this point I’m thinking, “How did I get up here?!” and I can hear Charlie next to me saying, “I can’t believe we’ve been up here this long.” But the clown will have no one chickening out. He gestures to the third man, who we’ll call Jack, to use his clapperboard and initiate “take one.”

He does. No one moves.

The clown is behind the fake camera at this point, urging Charlie to take his cue. Charlie is laughing uncomfortably, unsure what to do. The audience is giggling, but still he is scared stiff. So am I.

Which is why I have no idea how I ended up saying, “Screw it,” and lying down on the floor myself.

The crowd appreciated my forwardness and thankfully, Charlie also gained a confidence boost. Before long we were both tangled up on the floor. He didn’t go so far as to kiss me, which I believe was for the best. I’m sure both Bobby and Charlie’s girlfriend were very intrigued by the scene before them. (Bobby said he couldn’t stop laughing.)

The clown signaled for Frank to take his cue. I couldn’t tell what was happening from the floor, but Bobby later told me that Frank neglected to knock and proceeded to walk straight through the door frame – a big “no no” for the miming clown, who couldn’t believe he had walked straight through an imaginary “real” door. And so we were forced to start over with “take two.”

And “take three.”

And “take four.”

Charlie said again, “I can’t believe we’ve been up here this long!” You and me both. But by now, I was laughing and having fun. My nerves were gone and I was running on pure adrenaline. The audience seemed to be enjoying themselves, so I figured we may as well give them a show.

We ended up on the ground one last time. Frank successfully knocked on the door, walked in with flowers and looked painfully shocked at the scene before him. He drew out his gun and shot Charlie, who to his credit did a phenomenal job of playing out his fake death.

The clown turned the fake camera on me for my final moment. I clutched my face in horror and, with a twirl across the stage that surprised everyone – and no one more so than me – ended up at Charlie’s side with the imaginary vial of poison. With a final look at the clown, I downed the vial and, turning toward the audience, gave my best mock flash. It wouldn’t earn me any beads in New Orleans, but I’d take appreciative laughs over plastic necklaces any day.


When I was finally dead, the clown pulled me to my feet and whispered, “Let’s bow, shall we?” The five of us had our final shining moment on stage, and then it was over. We were the second to last act in the show, which I still find unbelievable!

The end.


It was truly an unforgettable night. I hope you enjoyed my story – I wanted to make sure I wrote down every detail. Although I sadly don’t have a picture or video to show for it, it will definitely be one of those life moments I will look back on and think, “That was pretty damn cool.”

Speaking of fun moments, I was incredibly pleased with today’s #FebPhotoADay: sun! It has been rather cloudy in Chicago lately, but apparently the sun decided it wanted to participate in this month’s photo challenge because it made an appearance near lunchtime, blue sky and all!

Bright day leads to bright night. I wonder what tomorrow will hold? Can’t wait to find out. :)

What’s one of your favorite “once in a lifetime” experiences?

The craziness of this evening certainly makes my list!


1 Erica February 9, 2012 at 2:30 am

That is so fun!! Sounds like you did just fabulous-wish i could have seen it!!

2 Jenn (eating bender) February 9, 2012 at 9:39 pm

I’m trying my darndest to get it on video – we’ll see if it’s possible! :)

3 Kristie February 9, 2012 at 6:40 am

Jenn I bet the event was awesome in person because your story just conveys it so well! And if that had been me… well, my face would have been beet red the entire time. One once-in-a-lifetime opportunity thing I can think of – not so much taking a risk as the stars aligned – was playing in the semifinals of MI’s state finals for tennis my junior year. I had only been playing for a year and a half, and had a brand new partner for states that I had never played with before (my partner from the rest of the season had to go to her brother’s wedding). It was scary and so awesome at the same time! :)

4 Jenn (eating bender) February 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Thank you, Kristie! I’m pretty sure my face was beet red. :) Love your tennis story – I can imagine it was scary but incredibly thrilling, too!

5 Vaguely Vegan February 9, 2012 at 7:52 am

Jenn…what a fun thing to be a part of! I love Cirque du Soleil and a few years ago my boyfriend at the time and I went to a show. We had great seats and he ended up getting picked by one of the “clowns” to participate in the show. I, like you, had always figured those people who got picked were really actors in the show, so I was totally shocked when they pulled him onto the stage. I laughed hysterically the entire time he was up there, kind of like Bobby did, haha! Definitely a cool experience!

6 Jenn (eating bender) February 9, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Ah, Lauren – that is an amazing story! I am so happy to find someone else who had a Cirque du Soleil experience. :) And even happier to know once and for all that they are not actors!

7 Shannon February 9, 2012 at 8:13 am

omg that is AWESOME!!! i totally want to see a video of that, it must be out there somewhere :) lovely picture of the day, too!

8 Jenn (eating bender) February 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I am on a mission to find it now! :) Thank you, Shannon!

9 Melissa @TryingtoHeal February 9, 2012 at 8:33 am

Oh my goodness Jenn, that story is HILARIOUS!!!! I’m so glad you were able to settle your nerves and go with the flow! What an exciting experience! I can’t say I’ve really had a once in a life time experience anything like that!

10 Jenn (eating bender) February 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm

It was definitely not something that happens often, that’s for sure! Probably a reason for that, haha.

11 Cara (Twinthusiast) February 9, 2012 at 9:33 am

Go Improv Jenn!

12 Jenn (eating bender) February 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Haha – you definitely won’t be seeing me at Second City anytime soon, but it was fun!

13 Christina February 9, 2012 at 9:38 am

Sounds like you had an awesome time!! One that the memories will last for a long time for sure! We were in Pigeon Forge, TN at a dinner show and one of the goofy stage members at one point came out to some of the tables near the front (as he had done before interacting with different people in the audience and members of the show) says Hey hot momma lets dance and grabs me! He had a huge foam cowboy hat on and they started playing Achy Breaky Heart.. talk about embarrassed, but what can you do?!? so I tried to have fun with it and he initiated doing “the bump” when I barely bumped back he fell to the floor.. laughter ensued.. and then he moved on in the show. My husband bought the dvd naturally.

14 Jenn (eating bender) February 9, 2012 at 9:46 pm

This story had me laughing out loud, Christina! Love that your husband bought the DVD afterward. :)

15 Megan (Braise The Roof) February 9, 2012 at 9:58 am

Haha, that is TOTALLY your dream experience! If that were to happen to anyone, I’m glad it was you. :) Now you have a story for your future children!

16 Jenn (eating bender) February 9, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Haha, you are right about that! I wonder if it will someday make me the “cool mom” or the “lame mom.” 😉

17 atenclay February 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Oh my gosh, Jenn, what an experience! I wish I could have been there. So proud of you for getting up there and acting out the part. You are awesome!

18 Jenn (eating bender) February 9, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Thank you, Angela! If I can ever find the video I will definitely have to share it! :)

19 Lauren February 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm

How fun! That is definately a memory you will have forever!

20 Jenn (eating bender) February 9, 2012 at 9:38 pm

I absolutely will – thank you, Lauren! :)

21 deva at deva by definition February 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm

This had me giggling! Go you – I would have been beet red the entire time!

22 Jenn (eating bender) February 9, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Haha – thank you! I have no doubt my face was the color of tomatoes. I was burning up for the rest of the show!

23 Diane February 10, 2012 at 6:09 pm

GREAT story, Jenn! Glad you were able to lose your nerves and enjoy it! One for the kids & grandkids!

24 Jenn (eating bender) February 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Thanks, Aunt Diane! :)

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