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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"R" is for "REVIVAL"

As my pirate-wannabe parrot might say...it's the A-Z Challenge... RRrrrrrr!

My theme revolves around the soon-to-be published memoir, REVIVAL, which I wrote for former professional opera singer, Donald Braswell.

"R" is for "REVIVAL"

Merriam-Webster definition of REVIVAL: The growth of something or an increase in the activity of something after a long period of no growth or activity

Anyone following along with my A-Z Challenge will know that something special happened when Donald met Jeannie and Walter. One of the major byproducts of this trifecta would become Donald’s first CD, New Chapter, which came out in May 2007.

This achievement led him to consider what his next steps might be, but while he considered options, his wife, Julie, once again stepped up and threw Donald’s name into the proverbial hat.
America’s Got Talent was casting for its 2008 season, so Julie sent off an application along with a copy of Donald's new CD. Not wanting to raise any false hopes -  up to 100,000 people apply for the popular show - she did so without telling her husband of 23 years.
The weeks went by and Julie became discouraged.... until one evening, the phone rang and Donald looked at the clock...
I glance at the red dials on the digital clock: 8:15. Weird, it’s a bit late for someone to call. Without glancing at Caller ID, I grab the receiver and rifle through a stack of papers in my little office that could.
“Yeah, hell-o,” I grunt, slipping several sheets from the folder in my hand to one that lay by my black-stockinged foot.

“Good evening. Is this Donald Braswell?” said the caller in a cheerful, crisp and very British accent.
My head snaps up. Weirder.

Yess, this is Donald Braswell. How can I help, and to whom am I speaking?” I offer up in my best Prince of Wales accent.

“Ah, yes, this is Simon with America’s Got Talent and I wanted to let you know we’ve gotten your materials…”
Materials? Cement? Tiles? What materials?

“…loved your singing. We’d like to extend an invitation to come audition for the television show.”

Why would someone from America’s Got Talent call me? They wouldn’t, there was no reason. I bet It’s a set-up from one of the guys at work.
“You know what, sir. I don’t know who you are, but you’ve dialed the wrong number. Sorry.”

I spot the piece of paper I want, find the missing figure I need, type it in and start to add a footnote, two-finger style, via the desktop keyboard.

“And, hey, Danny, if that’s you, my friend, I don’t have time for this right now.”

With a smirk, I hit the END button and return the cordless to its charger. I dump the call and refocus on the Excel sheet, where several figures have turned to hashtags. I’m about to input another possible permutation when the phone rings again.
I hate being bothered when I’m in the zone, so this joke is wearing thin. I swipe at the cordless, press the green button and lose my manners like I’d just lost my commission notes.

“Hello! Ah, yes. Is this Donald Braswell? The singer?”

It was the same “English guy.” I couldn’t believe it.
“Who is this?

“This is Simon from America’s Got Talent looking for Donald Braswell. Did you not send us an application for the show,” he paused for a second, “Along with a videotape and a CD called New Chapter?”

About to blow a severe gasket, I turn and see Julie standing in the doorway. She has a kitchen dishrag in her hands and a frown on her beautiful face. The girls were fine and sleeping, but Julie’s look unsettles me—we both know evening phone calls are never a good thing—and she’d heard two in a row.
“What’s wrong?” she mouths.

I give her my best I have no clue shrug. 
“It’s some guy with an English accent,” I said, slapping an exasperated hand over the mouthpiece. “He says he’s from America’s Got Talent.

“Oh my God,” she screams. “They got it! They got it!”
That unexpected reaction scares me and I push back in the office chair, which skitters to the edge of the clear carpet protector.
Worried about the kids, I try to shush Julie with my free hand, but she’s jumping up and down as if I’d scored a home run in the World Series. I look at the phone, at her, then at the cordless again.

What is going on?

“I sent in an application… to the show,” she said, in what she thought was a whisper, but was more like a squeal. “Baby, I sent an application to America’s Got Talent.”
That was definitely a squeal. I wince and when I open my eyes, Julie’s face was an inch from my own.

“Quick. Talk to him, Donald. Quick.”

Still confused, I remove my hand and thank the patient Englishman.
“How can I help you, sir?” I ask, holding the phone up so Julie can listen. She waves her finger like it’s a wand and I click the speaker button.

“Donald, we’ve reviewed your package and we’d like to have you attend our auditions in Dallas sometime in the New Year.”
I nod at the phone. Julie pokes me in the ribs.

“Ow, Uh, yes, of course. I’d love to. This is great, fantastic news. I’m sorry. It’s a bit of shock, you know, getting a call like this out of the blue.”
“Don’t worry.” I hear the smile in his voice.

“I’ll have someone contact you and we’ll send out the information packet.”

“Okay. Thanks. Thank you so much.”

“Great. Well, we’ll be in touch.”

“I don’t know what to say, except thank you, sir, and I’ll await your colleague’s call.”

“Cheerio now.”

“Thanks. Good night. Thank you.”

The line goes dead.
“What did you do?”

I look at Julie, who’s holding the towel to her face. I laugh at the nervous energy streaming from her.

She explains about the application and beams as if I’ve already won the contest.

“I knew you were good enough. I knew it.”
We share a huge hug, a big kiss, and we talk AGT like a pair of teens as we figure which songs I should consider for the audition.


Tomorrow: "S" is for "Singing"


Elephant's Child said...

If I short out my keyboard with sooky tears as I read your posts I am going to send you the bill. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Tammy Theriault said...

Yay for Simon cowell!! That call...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark - what an incredible tale - thank goodness his wife was there so she could confirm what was happening ... I too am nearly shedding tears .. it's wonderful to read .. cheers Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And he almost blew it! He's lucky there was a second call. And that his wife was there for that one.

Suzi said...

Good thing she walked in right then because I wondered what would've happened. Most people probably would've thought it was a joke, just like he did.

Tamara Narayan said...

Wow, that's exciting. This story just gets better and better. Was that Simon Cowell on the phone or some other Simon?

Mark Koopmans said...

@Tammy and @Tamara: No, it wasn't Simon Cowell:)

Donald hadn't met him yet...

Annalisa Crawford said...

Glad Simon called back. I guess it happens quite a lot, people applying on behalf of someone else.

Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

loverofwords said...

Such a great story. Will follow every day.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Now, THAT, would be a surprising phone call if you weren't expecting it, lol!

We wives tend to *help* where we can. :-)

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Can you imagine getting that call? I might have fainted.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

We all need a spouse like that. A great part of the story.

quietspirit said...

Mark: This sounds like it belongs in RIpley's "Believe it or Not". But, I'm glad it happened for Donald and Julie.

Jo said...

Wonderful, I can understand how excited his wife was and he will be once it sinks in. Loving this A to Z of yours Mork.

Anonymous said...

lol Did Simon really say "Cheerio?" lol

Lisa said...

I love Donald's wife!!! Not only did she send in the info, but she saved him from blowing the chance to audition! Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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