As I look back on my life I wonder what made me decide that improv was my calling. Was it a desire to be on stage? Was it because I love spontaneity? Was it the excitement of making people laugh? Actually, it all stems from the basic survival instinct. You see at an age when most students try to fit in and conform to the cool styles of the day (wearing Levi’s or Wrangler jeans), I had to use humor to survive because my mom decided to have me "blend in" by wearing a dark silk suit with white frills just peeking out from each wrist. I also accented the ensemble by wearing a French ivory white ruffle tied tightly around my neck; because, without it, I might have been made fun of!
In case you think that was a unique situation, I had three more of these outfits in my closet all varying slightly in color because a stark white ruffle after Labor Day would be ridiculous. I had one for church, one for school, and one for playing with friends in the neighborhood. That’s just what I needed to bond with my peers, a rough and tumble ruffle shirt that I could get dirty. Talk about throwing caution to the wind.
My mom said to me later, “Those were the most popular fashions at that time.” I furrowed my brow and quipped, “I looked like Paul Revere”! Mom shook her head and said, “The kids loved your outfit.” I smiled and said to her, “Every day at recess I said, ‘The bullies are coming, the bullies are coming’ ”
My only saving grace was that there was one more kid at the school who actually wore a similar outfit; I could spot him a mile away at recess…my younger brother!
Read the Charlotte Observer article on Paul Marks (Part 1)