Monthly Archives: October 2010

One day, I’ll be a real actress

The email sounded promising enough. “You have been selected to audition for the Roots and Branches theater company.” Key word: Selected. You see, being selected, as opposed to being asked or invited, automatically makes me superior to all the other actors in this city, as if they pulled my headshot from the massive stack of mail and said,“Her! She’s the one! She’s got talent! Pizzaz! A real dynamo this one!”

Yes, this may sound like a scene from a Shirley Temple movie. And?

I continued reading the email.

“Roots and Branches is an inter-generational community of artists, interested in exploring past and present situations to combine individual moments of personal growth into a collaborative creative presentation.”

Whatever. Just give me a job. Please. I can’t feed my two kittens. I say kittens because even though I don’t have kittens, you can believe that I do. I thought about saying children but really, the idea of me having a child at this point in my life is just ridiculous. And I need you to believe that I have some sort of desperation to go to an audition that will ultimately take me nowhere. Cause why else would I keep putting myself through these useless and often humiliating auditions? Why?! WHYYYYY????

Because I have hungry kittens, damn it!

I arrived at the location provided by the theater company. From the outside, it looked like one of those recreational facilities where you play basketball or indoor soccer. But when I entered, I didn’t hear the usual squeaks of sneakers on wood or grunts of defensive play. There was only silence. A stillness to the building. I took a look and saw no one around. I stood in the empty lobby, alone with my thoughts about how I was alone. However, instead of being creeped out by this Unsolved Mystery waiting to happen, I had an odd sense of familiarity, a feeling like I was home.

I was at a retirement complex.

Growing up in Central Florida, I am no stranger to the elderly lifestyle. Living in conjunction to the second largest retirement community in the United States, The Villages (spreads over three counties!), old people silence is something you learn to live with. Occasionally, a golf cart hums by at 3 miles an hour. Or a house will blast Maury and Montel at full volume. After seven P.M. the silence fills your ears and starts to eat away at your brain.  Soon you’re talking to yourself to fill the emptiness in your head and phrases like, “Baby needs Mr. Q to bake something.  Banana. Banana.” or “Mr. Q ate my tulips. Baby wants her red ones.” start to make complete sense.

A painting by Mr. Q

Lauren, head elder of the Roots and Branches, came out of an elevator and greeted me in her wheelchair. I volunteered to push her to where ever we were going and she directed me to the back of the complex, to a large rehearsal room she called their “jam space”. A group of elderly men and women sat in a circle and applauded as I rolled her in. I noticed there was only one other actor there to audition. His eyes kept darting from the group to the door. I sat down next to him, away from the elders. He nodded his head at me.

“Hey, I’m David.”

“Sarah.”

“Looks like we’re the only ones here to audition.”

“Good.” The fewer the better in my opinion.

One of the elderly men rose and a hush fell over the group. He groaned the entire way.

“Boy, them knees don’t work like they used to!” Knowing laughter filled the room. “Well let’s get started here. Kids, this isn’t going to be your typical audition.  We’re going to do a little improv, story-telling to see what we come up with. Sort of like we’re workshopping you. That’s what we do. We workshop and tell stories and then we write a play. We’ve got Dina here on guitar, so if you want to start singing, she’ll start a melody and go along with what you do. Dina, why don’t you stand up. Where’s Dina? Dina!?”

A woman with a shaved head stood up behind him. Stickers about saving Mother Earth adorned her guitar case. “Hey guys. Who’s ready to jam?”

“Sarah, why don’t you go first?” The elder pointed at me with his cane. Seriously?

“O-okay.” What was he going to make me do?!

“Sarah, take this cane.” He handed me his long knotted walking cane, maple oak in color. “Take this cane and tell it something you want it to know. Anything. Just something you feel it needs to know. I’ll speak if I feel the cane wants to know more.”

I held the cane tenderly and began to tell it a story.  Sadly, this story is true.

“So, um, I was doing my laundry the other day.  Um, and, uh, I had a sort of bad week. And I hate doing laundry. I mean, I HATE it. And I was really tired and stuff and I went to put in the quarters into the dryer and I hit the wrong button and refilled someone else’s dryer with the quarters. MY quarters. And, um as I said, I had a really bad week and when I did that I started to cry. In the middle of the laundromat.”

“How did that make you feel?” asked the elder, or should I say, asked the cane since, while it is capable of creating thought, it is unable to vocalize its concern for me.

“Stupid.”

“It made you feel what?”

“STUPID!”  I shouted this line to make my story sound more meaningful.

“What do you want the cane to know about that sad story?”

“Um. That people are good. Cause this man, he didn’t even speak any English, he came up and put four quarters into my machine. Of course, that only made me cry more. But it was still nice.”

“Sarah, do you sing?”

“No.”

“Do you dance?”

“Yeah.” Crap. “I mean, I used to.”

“Would you do a little dance with this cane?”

‘Yeah, I’ll give you a beat!” shouted Dina as she began to strum a cheerful melody. I figured my dignity was shot with that laundromat story, so I began to dance a beautiful dance with my partner, the cane.

We twirled in circles together. We tangoed. We did the twist. I lifted the cane high over my head and pandered to the elders, tapping my feet vaudeville style. I could tell they were enjoying my performance even though what I was doing couldn’t really be considered dancing. What I was doing looked more like what a four-year thinks dancing is; an uncooordinated mix of hip thrusts, arm poses and funny faces.

“Now say something to the cane,” the elderly man commanded.

I looked at the cane and, in a rather inspired moment, said, “You’ve been so good to me, baby.”

Laughter and applause filled the room. I had pleased them. I sat down and a female elder leaned over and whispered, “That’s how I always feel.”

After I watched the other auditions (two more actors came late), I felt pretty confident that I was going to be jamming with the Roots and Branches full-time. While the other actors may have had better stories, I beat them all with my dance.

They never called me back.

And somewhere, in New York City, a cane sits alone, wanting just one more dance.

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Whipping My Hair: Part One

It was my birthday a few weeks ago. I generally don’t like to make big plans for my birthday, not because I dread getting older, but because once I start planning anything, I start having expectations. And I know all too well what happens if those expectations aren’t met. Tears. Lots of them. I prefer to go to bed after a day of not celebrating my birthday, content with the knowledge that I may have gained a year in my age but I have also gained in my awesome. This isn’t an over inflated ego talking. It’s science. Take a look at this graph chart taken from Google images. You can see precisely how my awesome increases after each birthday.

 

It's not predicted to level off. Ever.

 

Even though I don’t like to make birthday plans, I’m not going to say no if my friends want to celebrate or do something special for me. My friend J.J. called me with the news that we’d both be getting our hair colored and styled into a “red-carpet up-do” courtesy of a L’Oreal celebrity hair stylist. Apparently, the L’Oreal salon hosts hair workshops once a month featuring a celebrity hair stylist and people come from far away to learn their secrets. “Models” are used for these workshops and in exchange for modeling, L’Oreal does their hair for free. If getting a free hair makeover wasn’t enough (and for me it definitely is), they provide breakfast AND lunch. Oh, and what’s this? A goodie bag of hair products? Can I say happy birthday to me or what!

The night before, instead of dreaming about birthday cake and presents, I had dreams of hot rollers and frizz free hair. In one dream, the stylist, represented by Ken Paves, highlights my hair while saying things like, “Jessica Simpson’s hair isn’t nearly as soft as yours” and “Why don’t you start your own hair extension line?”

“Maybe one day.” I demur.

In another, strangers stop me on the street to compliment my glamorous hair. “So this is what it’s like to be beautiful,” I whisper, as my new boyfriend, Ryan Gosling, leans in to kiss me.

However, when I woke up that morning it was raining. And it wasn’t just regular rain. It was old-testament-gonna-flood-this-city-till-everybody-dies rain. It didn’t help that the L’Oreal salon is in the West Village, where I’m lost the moment I step out of the subway station. It took asking two strangers, a pair of ruby-red slippers, Gryffindor’s Sword, and a golden ticket to get me heading in the right direction but eventually I made it to the salon just as they were removing the cellophane off the breakfast buffet table.

Bagels, I’m a-gonna eat you.

I was the first model to the salon. I thought the man who greeted me looked familiar but I figured he was just another fah-bu-lous! hair dresser getting ready for another long day at the salon. I didn’t realize it was David Evangelista.

THE David Evangelista.

David Evangelista: A red carpet stylist and friend of celebrities

Not to be confused with the other David Evangelista: Your neighborhood magician and friend of birds

By 9:00, the other stylists participating in the event had arrived. But David Evangelista was the only one who mattered. His words.

I kept looking for the cameras filming David. He was, as the people in the entertainment industry like to say, “on”. He danced around the salon. He bemoaned the horrible weather. He name dropped. He kept half yelling at me. “Oh, this ONE! She looks scared!”

Turns out, there were no cameras around. This is just how he is at 9:00 in the morning.

My friend J.J. was swept away by David’s celebrity stories. “What’s Rosie O’Donnell like?” asked J.J. after David made a casual reference to the time he was on her show.

“She’s great when she takes her meds.” he said in a sort of world-weary, seen-it-all tone. I thought that was a pretty honest answer.

Soon it was time to go in front of the people who paid a lot of money to learn how to style hair. David decided that J.J. would get a 60’s beehive, a la Mad Men, and I would get highlights and waves like Rita Hayworth.

Let’s start with my before picture, taken right after I came in from the rain.

 

 

Good luck making this look good.

 

After my hair went through the highlighting process, David went to work. He started by placing my hair in rollers.

And then he– well that was pretty much it. He did take my hair out of the rollers and sweep it to the side, though.

 

Look at me Mom!

 

J.J.’s look, however, required a lot more hairspray.

 

That is allllll hair.

 

J.J., George, and Me, looking glamorous

After lunch, the students had to practice recreating these looks on bodiless mannequin heads. The live models were dismissed.

I couldn’t wait to show the world my new look. My hair looked fantastic. It had a weightlessness to it. It bounced. It no longer looked as though I wrestle rabid raccoons for a living. I’m a somebody! I’m going places! I’m–

Missing my umbrella.

“A couple of students left early, they had flight to catch. One of them probably took it.” said the receptionist.

“But it’s still raining!” This was a terrible turn of events. I couldn’t ruin David’s work! Not when I’m so close to having it all!*

The receptionist handed me a shower cap to protect my hair.

 

“Thanks.” I meant it. This woman saved my hair and my birthday.  Of course, I didn’t realize that David’s work would not hold in the shower cap as I headed home, losing myself twice in the W. Village, but I’d find that out later. It’s okay. I have a second chance at hair bliss as L’Oreal contacted me and asked if I wanted to get a free haircut on Monday. Uh, you better believe I do! I can’t wait. I hope David’s there and he remembers me.

PART TWO COMING SOON…..

*I don’t even know what “having it all” means but I pretend like I do, just like I do with a lot of other sayings like You complete me and Love means never having to say you’re sorry and Superman that ho.

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ZAC EFRON TUESDAY SUSPENDED!

Until he fixes his face situation, I can’t keep posting photos of him with a half beard.

Anyway, I’ll be thinking of another celebrity to celebrate on Tuesdays and right now the front-runner is Willow Pinkett Smith. Why? Because I want to… whip my hair back and forth.

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