They Used To Call me Space Cat #2 - Abasnatchta Vimeo password is aba1
What exactly is Abasnatchta you might be wondering? It is a country in Africa that does not exist. Except in the recesses of my memories and the memories of several unsuspecting classmates in my high school - and one flabbergasted World Religion teacher.
Over several months after my return for California, even though I was grounded, I began to become increasingly aware of my love for storytelling. Especially this acute, growing desire to tell stories through short films, acting or pure improvisation.
My third semester World Religion class was where the first manifestion of this reared its head. My teacher had us pick a subject based on World Religions. We were told that we had from March to June to write a detailed paper, which would ultimately determine our final grade. Not being thrilled by that prospect, I quickliy shot up my hand. "Sir", I began, "I would like to do an actual physical presentation based on my recent trip with the Abasnatchta tribe in Africa. There are lots of amazing and cool things I shared and learned from the tribe that I just can't describe on paper". To back me up, two of my friends said they went with me and would also like to participate. Delighted, my teacher agreed, completely unaware of the spontaneously fabricated story.
Over the following months, everyone was pouring over encyclopedias burning the midnight oil researching their subjects, while my buddies and I were kicking back in the dorm (it was a boarding school) playing hot games of Hearts. As the school year was winding up, my teacher reminded me that my presentation was due in a few days.
The day of the presentation, I flew across the campus to grab some photos from a friend of mine who had recently been to Africa . My friends grabbed a couple of props from Mexico and we got psyched for what would be a 45 minute spiel of well...pure bullshit. Standing outside the classroom door, I told my teacher we had devised a special entrance, so please get everyone seated and ready. My buddies and I quickly ripped off our shirts, socks and shoes - which was pretty radical since this was a school where the dress code was shirts, ties and jackets at all times. Ten seconds to blast off and I was still trying to figure out what the hell to do. Screw it we thought as we grabbed the Mexican props and danced our way into the room, singing and chanting in a totally fake language.
Everyone loved it, especially the teacher. In fact, he was so enthusiastic that he asked us to do it for another class! With our confidence building and raw teenage adrenaline flowing, we got another friend to dress up as an Aurora ( name of the city we lived in) Cable TV guy who would come and film us live with his video camera. This totally made our teacher's day which inspired him to "request" that we also perform in two weeks for the Aurora old folks home.
Unlike the classroom filled with my friends where I felt no fear, I have to admit, this old folks home was out of my element and made me really nervous. To compound that, on the way in we saw a huge billboard that said something like "Tonight! Geoff Browne's Africa Presentation". This was also decorated with cutouts of various zebras, elephants and jungle beasts.But it wasn't the 50 or so geriatrics that got me nervous. It was the fact that their children were also there, including many well-heeled and educated young professionals from the Aurora area. How quickly would this illusion melt before their eyes I thought as we started. Soon, the old "Screw it" zone took over and I got the idea to tell them that most of the rituals took place around a big fire. No, I didn't build one, but I dug down deep into my cache of summer camp fire songs and came up with the perfect one for a sing-a-long - Kumbaya!
I went from wheelchair to wheelchair with a mic, Phil Donahue style - "Someone's sleeping...Kuuuumbaaayaaaa!!! It was wonderful and I was able to milk this for at least ten minutes.
Now, twenty years later, I am able to look back and see how badly I wanted to touch the wild, and that is exactly what I have done from then until now. More to come...from Geoff Browne, aka Space Cat.