I went to a retreat last weekend where they had a Talent Show, and it prompted me to recall the one and only Talent Show I’ve ever lost… admittedly because it was the one and only Talent Show I’ve ever participated in at all.

Warning: Bitterness Contained in the Following Paragraphs.

I was a camp counselor for four summers during college (incidentally the four best summers of my life), and we had a Talent Show on the closing night of each week with junior high and high school campers. I never felt especially compelled or even interested in participating in the Talent Show. I know what I’m good at, I know what I’m not, and I’m just really not a stage performer. I’m much better in the audience.

I mean, yes, I could get up there and read aloud. But, come on. The audience is not exactly hungry for an excellent reading of original prose.

But there was this one year when my campers talked me into it. They had their hearts set on all of us – all of us, every single one of us, not just them but me too – signing up for the Talent Show, and they wanted us to perform a choreographed lip sync. We would be the sensation from Cabin 12 in the summer of 1998. I’m telling you, these girls won me over with their enthusiasm, and I said yes.

Sidenote: I feel pretty strongly that the key to a good segment at a camp talent show is the complete willingness to make a fool of yourself. It’s better to walk onto the stage with the intent and aim to look ridiculous. That way, when you do, you can simply say, “Right. That’s what I meant to do. Goal: accomplished.”

And so our song of choice (get ready for this) was Good Morning, FullSizeRenderGeorge from VeggieTales. Feel free to YouTube that puppy right now. Go ahead and picture 16 girls in pigtails and matching outfits, precise choreography and so much charm you just can’t help but literally fall in love with them.

And, as it is with projects of great momentum, everything got for real and for serious really fast, and we were spending all of every afternoon in rehearsals. Before I knew it, my heart was even engaged. My troupe did such a great job, and they were so proud of themselves that we didn’trealize until our number was over that we hadn’t planned how to exit the stage. They finished our final kickline, we took our bow, and then they all turned to me for hugs and affirmation. And instead of hugging and affirming, I had to herd everyone and their enthusiasm off the stage.Dance teacher giving children Zumba fitness class in gym

You guys, we were such a hit. Everyone loved us. There was a palpable buzz throughout the audience as the final acts performed, and everyone was sure we would win. (There were no prizes. There was only glory.)

But here’s where the story changes and where the bitterness ensues. My charming kickline of girls in matching outfits, crisp choreography, and more joy than you could contain, lost the talent show.

We lost to a boy who could fart on demand.


He held a microphone up to his anus, and he farted for us all. Repeatedly.  And he won.

A little part of me died that night. I’m really pretty sure.

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