we all wanna be big rockstars
At one time or another we have all wanted to stand in the spotlight, singing a power-ballad to a packed stadium. The applause, the screaming fans, and the money and fame, are magnetic and intoxicating elements. This probably explains the popularity of karaoke. For five minutes all those dreams of stardom can become a twisted reality.
I remember the paper route I had as a lad. Early mornings with a sack of newsprint under my arm, there was little to do but daydream. I would sing horrible early-80s AM radio pop songs to amuse myself. I often thought, “Hey, that sounded pretty good. You could be on the radio.”
In my naiveté I considered making a tape on my cassette recorder and sending off to a record company. Hundreds, nay, thousands of people did that, but my voice would enchant record company execs. The money, the fame, the girls — all mine, to be had with a single recording.
Years later a thought like that would have passed when I sobered up. Back then it was a bowl of oatmeal and junior high that brought reality back. Deep down, I wanted to be the center of attention. Larger than life. I wanted to be someone famous.
Don’t we all, at one point or another?
It never really happened. For a time I was a small town newspaper reporter. I was (in)famous to those that read my tired prose. I would receive calls from readers with startling news tips, or verbal threats, both were as interesting. Being famous in a town of 2,500, for lack of a better term, sucks.
Somehow I ended up in the Middle Kingdom. As a foreigner, one of 13,000 in a city of 12 million, I was easily noticeable. That can’t be confused with famous. I was a very visible minority.
After a year I found my footing. My job as an English educator became easier. I started to have fun, enjoying each student, even the ones that pushed every one of my buttons. When I walked across the campus I would hear calls of “Steve!” from small children, smiles on their faces. A journey from my office to apartment was a cavalcade of hugs and slaps on the bottom. I didn’t mind either.
My fame grew, maybe only in my mind. I was no longer Steve, but known by my Chinese name, Shi Di Fu. The calls of this moniker, my English name, or a bizarre bastardization of the two became common place.
This week I reached the pinnacle of fame. I donned an Easter bunny mask to celebrate a Christian holiday I don’t believe in and hand out candy to my 809 charges.
“Sti Fu!” they called when I entered each class, a basket of candy on my arm.
I’m a long way from the quiet streets of Burlington, Ontario, a satchel of Globe and Mail newspapers across my midriff. That old dream of being a rock star has come true, without the singing.