Chasing Down a Memory

If you can believe it, I was a shy international student when I arrived at the Orange County private school back in 1993.  I wasn’t “shy” because that was what I was. I was “shy” because I was insecure with my English skills and with being a total foreigner in a school full of mostly white kids. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to make friends.

My host mom Bonnie, also one of our school’s counselor at the time, had it planned out for me perfectly. She enrolled me in handbell choir with ultra small class size so I could get comfortable making new friends, and because my teacher Mr. Benjamin is from Singapore.  She also got me in Drama class to my parents’ protest.  Drama class would help my confidence, she said.  I was also in good hands with Mr. Nowlin whom had been asked to help me along.

Wouldn’t you know it? Bonnie was right about both classes helping me adjusted to culture shock. I got my confidence back in a big way.

You see, back home in Thailand, if there was a show put on of any kind, I was in it. I was the go-to ballet girl, and one of the “brave ones” that’d go on stage when everyone else would run away. Even if it was just turning on the lights and turning on A/V. (I was backstage enough to know ALL the switches and where everything was kept.) I was a stage rat long before I came here.

With a little push from Bonnie, by the 2nd semester of my junior year, I was already on stage, playing mostly-silent multiple roles in a student-directed children’s musical.  Senior year, I joined the women’s choir and performed a duet with my friend Amber at a choir concert.  And then I was in two student-directed productions, a play and then Snoopy the Musical.

I had a few lines in The Curious Savage as the psychologist Dr. Emmett who runs the asylum. My lines were few but they were poignant.  I was trying so hard to pronounce everything right that I would get nervous and rushed the lines during rehearsals.  I practiced all the time and I was told I did well at the performances.  But then again, I was my worst critic. So when the audition for Snoopy the Musical was announced, I was the only one who showed up begging for the silent role of Woodstock.

When I told Brandon, this, he didn’t believe that I volunteered to NOT speak. LOL

I gotta say though, I did like miming my way through Snoopy. And, you can say whatever you want, I DO like pantomime as a performing art. There. I said it. Let’s move on.

Over 10 years later, fate would have it that would run into the boy who played Charlie Brown.

A few years ago when I organized Thrill the World at L.A. Live, this tall gentleman was one of the volunteers at the event. All volunteers went to dinner afterward and he and I hit it off, so we connected over Facebook. It was then that I found out his last name…which sounded familiar…then I saw that he went to the same high school. One flip through the year book later, it was confirmed.

Crazy, right?

Later on Facebook would also have it that I also found Snoopy, the other Woodstock, one of the directors, and Linus who scanned the above photo for me.

That brought us to yesterday.

Charlie Brown showed up on my Facebook timeline for something else which jogged a Snoopy nostalgia for me.  So I went searching for those rare footage of high school performances of the musical so I can walk down memory lane. But then I found this clip which I thought would be a montage of bits and pieces of Snoopy cartoons with the soundtrack from the original cast.

But it wasn’t. It was so much more than that. It was the footage from the 1988 animated movie…which NONE OF US knew existed.

I need a copy of that. RIGHT. NOW!  It took a while of hunting to find that there are some VHS tapes available in the U.S. and that DVDs are available only in the UK.

My DVD is on its way to me now.

Oh my god. I’ve just become one of THOSE people who try to recapture their high school glory.

Given, my “glory” is a non-speaking part in a student-directed production of a children’s musical. For elite drama kids, I pretty much got the shittiest gig possible. But it’s one of the best memory I had from high school.

For a nerdy, loner-ish, first international student to graduate from the new, mostly white high school, that was a big fucking deal.  Big enough to track it down.

Then again, I also did track down–and contacted–my high school crush while in college. Cyber stalking…er…researching at the dawn of the internet age was no small feat, I tell you. But that’s a story for another day. 🙂

Have you ever tracked down a piece of your childhood or high school memories? Do share!


  1. Shakina   •  

    The craziest part is we spent the whole day at TTW working together and running around and then EATING DINNER TOGETHER and never recognized one another from our Snoopy glory days! That show was also a wonderful experience for me to. I always think about the Encouragement Box, where we could leave little anonymous notes of support for each other. Yours were always the best, decorated with stickers and shiny do-dads (clearly they weren’t that anonymous). Why don’t we have Encouragement Boxes in our adult lives? That’s what I’d like to know. Well here’s a little note from me: I BELIEVE IN YOU OAKLEY! XOXO

  2. oakmonster   •  

    Oh Shakina! How COULD I remember you? Look at you now, the handsome tall drink of sexy water. You were CHARLIE BROWN with a little pudgy cheek and raspy, breaking voice…and you had hair. LOL

    Why now, that’s a project for you. Creat the Encouragement Box for the digital age. I think we can make that happen.

  3. Courtney   •  

    The encouragement box for the digital age is a great idea! I remember some very touching encouragement from Shakina when my Grandmother passed away during Snoopy rehearsals. I will never forget that!

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