April 1st is a day for terrible jokes, pranks, and general nuisance. I cordially detest that day, because every single thing you see, hear, or read is suspect. But not this year. This year April Fool’s Day is also the date of the 27th Annual MYP Coffeehouse! (That should be read in the same tone as “a brand new car!” or “a trip to space camp!” depending on your preference and/or level of nostalgia.)
Being the shameless entertainer that I am, the Coffeehouse is one of the highlights of my year. I love performing for an audience and watching my friends and family do the same. I love to swing for the fences with my performance, daring to fail spectacularly in the hopes of brilliant success. (As an aside, I feel that it is my responsibility to personally give the audience their money’s worth and be the highlight of the night. My wife thinks this is a terribly conceited viewpoint, but I also think that everyone else should perform with the same mentality. The important thing is to send the people home happy. But I digress…)
One of my favorite things about the Coffeehouse is when our teenagers get up to perform. It doesn’t happen as much now as it used to, but we do seem to be on an upswing. (Fingers crossed.) Our teens are incredibly supportive of one another. It rings a very specific chord with me.
You see, dear reader, I was not always the showman which you may be acquainted with today. I often credit the Module for playing a large role in who I am today, but there is a single, quantifiable point where it all came together. A sea change. A tale of two Garys. Let us journey back, shall we? The year is A.D. 1997. The month is February. I am a junior at Archbishop Molloy High School. (Go Stanners, or somesuch.) Prior to this point, I have been ‘the kid who gets made fun of.’ That was my experience in grade school, and much of high school to that point. It was how I saw myself. For reasons I cannot fully explain, it was at the 7th Annual MYP Coffeehouse that I decided to step way outside of my comfort zone.
I was mostly a quiet kid. Ask any of my small group leaders. But that night, I borrowed a leather jacket and threw a glass of water in my face while singing Billy Joel’s classic You May Be Right. (I think the debate over whether or not I am ‘crazy’ has long since been put to rest.) My fellow teens, who had never really seen this side of me before, were hugely supportive of me. Later that night I got back up to sing My Way. Upon leaving the stage, PJ Macari told me something to the effect of “you never cease to surprise me.” PJ was the team member that I related to the most as a teen in the Program, and that was just about the nicest way of saying “that was awful, but I’m proud of you for doing it” that I can think of. I really can’t overstate the impact that one night had on me.
Two decades later, and there are two indisputable truths. One, I am getting old. Two, the Coffeehouse remains a hugely important part of the Module year. It should not be overlooked that the Coffeehouse is a tremendous fundraiser for us. We couldn’t carry on the Program without it. More importantly, though, we still have shy kids in need of some validation. A little applause could make all the difference. I will be in the basement of St. Mel’s when the doors open at 7:30 PM on April 1st, and I hope that you will, too. Watch us make Fools of ourselves. (See what I did there?) For good or ill, I promise I’ll make you smile.
See you there.