Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Martini Moments

Last week, it was my third performance of Reservoir Bitches. There was a pit in my stomach because of that douche bag theater manager who tried to fire me the week before. Not to mention, Abe was running late, as usual. I had to leave before he got into town and rush to the theater with Em. There is no excuse, he had nothing to do that day.

Everyone was in a mild tizzy fit over a botched rehearsal time earlier in the week. White was especially intense about it since her mother was flying out to see the final performance.

Em's husband said, "Well, you know what her mom is going to say after the performance. (slowly and carefully) 'Are you ready to come home now? I know they are hiring at the Wendy's down the street. And Chris is still single.'

. . . yeah. I got that speech from my parents and they would never even bother to see a clip of my work. My father asked, "When will you stop dreaming?" I broke out into the song 'Dream On' . . . dream on, dream on, dream until your dreams come true" do do do dooo do oooo dooo.

My dad, "I hate that song."

When we got there, Pink was missing. White said she was freaking out earlier in the day and said she was going to quit. She also wasn't picking up her phone an hour before the performance, so . . . yeah. Nerves were high.

The girls were saying they looked forward to my improvised lines. White said, "We always wonder what you are going to say next." So I tried to pull my head away from my phone, wondering where the fuck Abe was and focus on what new lines I could throw in.

Pink showed. Pink, "Its just a bad day. I was freaking out but I am ok now." We got dressed then got in a circle, put our hands on top of one another and chanted louder and louder, "Bitches! Bitches! Bitches!"

We started with the diner scene. Out of my peripheral I was looking for Abe in the crowd. He wasn't there.

Jolie, "You don't believe in it. Cough up a buck like everybody else. I paid for your god damn breakfast. I don't care if your tampon string is in a knot."

Ms. Pink, "Alright, alright. I wouldn't normally do it, but I'll throw in a tip just for you."

Jolie, "I don't care what you would normally do. Queef up that dollar and lets go. Thank you!"

BACKSTAGE:

Ms. White, "The improv is too much, you are losing some of us with the lines."

ONSTAGE

Ms. Orange, "She says she doesn't want to go to the train station alone, so I go with her."

I am supposed to say, "Wait a minute. You go to meet the buyer with the weed on you."

Instead, she kept going. Both Evie and White looked at me with HUGE eyes. I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. Whatever. She skipped the whole god damn speech the week before, so what the fuck did it matter.

BACKSTAGE

White punched my arm. "Stop doing that!"

I said, "What?"

White, "You missed a line."

I said, "I didn't miss it. I just didn't want to talk over her."

This was a sloppy performance, but I have to say because of that, I kind of liked it. It was the first one that felt organic, like we were really in a chaotic race of ego. That's the story.

ONSTAGE

Jolie, "This bloody cunt tipped off the cops and got Ms. Brown and Ms. Blue killed."

White, "Jolie, you don't know what you are talking about. You are all wrong."

Jolie, "Like hell I am."

I was stepping on something but I couldn't see what it was. It was stuck to the bottom of my shoe.

Jolie, "She was the only one I wasn't 100% about. I should of gotten my fucking head examined going ahead not 100%."

Bang. Bang. Bang. Climax. I am dead.

Get up, bow. Blah blah blah.

I look on my foot and peel Em's prop ear off the bottom of my shoe. Jesus Christ, that thing was disgusting.

After the show, one of Em's friends was waiting outside with me and Abe. She had a dozen roses and kissed my cheek. I was so PISSED at Abe for being late. I was pissed that he only visited me one day out of the week that I rehomed Cupcake. And ultimately, I am pissed that he would rather have me move in with another man than move in with me because he doesn't know when he'll be ready.

Em's friend, Bea handed over these beautiful hybrid roses and said, "You were great!" I smiled.

Me, "Eh . . . was I too loud? Its such a small theater."

Bea, "I would say you were perfect. You enunciated. You and Em had perfect pitch. Its theater. You really had presence on stage." God, it was so good to hear a compliment.

I have had a friend attend the show, leave immediately afterward, never mentioning a word about my performance. I find it a little insulting seeing as I can dig up a compliment even in the worst catastrophe of a performance and I have for him.

Its a bad play. I get it. But who cares, even someone who fronts a lot of false confidence like me needs some reassurance once in a while.

I said, "Thank you so much. Gawd, its so nice to hear a compliment, you know?"

Bea said, "Oh I know. I gave a compliment to Jennifer Love Hewitt the other day and she said the same thing. Nobody gives compliments anymore. People assume than when you are established, you only need the criticism- but we all need to get some validation. I mean, we are standing in front of strangers, exposed! Its not easy acting.

I said, "People are so used to watching professional movies and TV, they think its easy. A lot of people have trouble just reading lines naturally." 

Bea nodded, "And part of the whole reason we act is just for the validation, too."



I buried my face in my roses and met Em's husband downstairs, with Bea who bought me a martini. Abe is new to being a boyfriend, so I know he was feeling a little behind, being late . . . a girl beating me to the flowers . . . someone buying my first drink and, of course, me giving him the cold shoulder.

I am hard on him, but I am hard on myself. The last thing you want to be is your boyfriend's doormat and I have seen the strongest, most beautiful women bend down so their lovers can walk over them. Maybe I overcompensate, but I need to make sure that we are partners, and my time and feelings are respected. Even at the risk of being a bitch.

I wasted five yrs of my life on Not for Profit. And my sister wasted seven on a Mamma's boy with no chin.

It was a terrible idea for me to keep drinking, but martinis are seductive. The chill of the vodka. The bitter olive juice. The thin layer of ice just over the top of the glass that cracks that first time you lift it up to your mouth. MMMMMMMM!

We were talking about how Mitchell had to go to the 7Eleven and buy toilet paper before our performance. Bea told a story about how her grandmother would carry tissue in her purse during the Depression just for that. Public toilet paper wasn't common place back then. And during her gynecology exam, the doctor looked down and said, "You keep these down here too?" He withdrew his hand and held up a couple stamps that were left behind from wiping with tissue kept in her wallet, where her stamps were also kept.

I was trying to keep my spirits up. I was distraught over the Cake still. Depressed. My footing has been sliding a bit lately as my debt gets worse and worse. Hope is a precious thing. Real hope isn't a white lie you just keep saying aloud until it comes true. Hope is the light in the distance. At that moment, I saw nothing but black ahead of me.

Evie read my face, bent down and kissed me on the lips. She whispered, "You know I love you." This was unexpected, but there is something electric with a kiss. It isn't necessarily sexual. A passage of energy. Something. I smiled.

The next day my call time was 6:30am for a pilot in Downtown Los Angeles. Abe is a wonderful housewife. When I get up early for a call, he makes love to me, makes me coffee, packs me a lunch and takes care of the animals. Its so much easier.

I woke up to Belly Pie, my grey tiger kitty, and said, "You are so pretty, Belle. Are you pretty, my little bobcat? Gorgeous girl."

Abe said, dryly, "She doesn't cover her own excrement."

My cat is funny. She loves me, a lot. And when Abe goes down on me, she takes the opportunity to get in my face and purr like crazy. She will keep coming back no matter how many times I push her away.

Abe said, "What is this? A competition?"

She does cuddle with me after sex, while Abe steps out for a smoke, then a shower, and even then, he is always uncomfortable with my weight on his arm or something.

This time Abe climbed up on the bed, nuzzled my face and purred. My cat took on the challenge, stayed and nuzzled from the right, while Abe nuzzled from the left. I laughed from my gut, for the first time since I lost Murray and the Cake. Life comes back to you. I always have to remind myself.

I showed up to the LA Convention Center which was being staged as the Los Angeles Airport. Coffee was not near craft service and my face was swollen from the lack of sleep and too many cigarettes. It was one of those mornings where I hated myself for allowing myself to smoke more than 2 the night before.two cancer sticks.

The people on set were weird.

First I had to walk above the set, on a second floor with my luggage and heard an Asian Guy talking to the girl in front of me.

Asian Actor, "How old are you?"

Girl, "26."

Asian Actor, "Wow, I thought you were a lot older."

Girl (dryly) "Thanks."

Asian Actor, "Is the biological clock ticking, cause it should be."

What an asshole.

Then he said, "I am 142 but I take great care of myself because . . . you know . . . its LA."

While walking on the ground floor with my luggage, I am still out of focus, a girl tried to make small talk with me.

Girl, "Where do you do Doggie Daycare?"

Me, "Glendale."

Girl, "Whoa, that's really far for me."

Me, "Oh." I really don't like chatting with actors, they just are . . . strange.

Girl, "Is England in Orange County?"

I said, "ENGLAND!?"

Girl, "Um . . . oh . . . no, I mean Inglewood."

I pause. "No."

Then we were all moved up to the cafeteria where I sat with some middle aged folks, thinking it would be a little less . . . interactive. I was trying to finish my book, House Rules.

Middle-Aged Female Extra, "What's your obsession?"

Middle-Aged Male Extra, "In 6th grade I used to eat pencils, spit them up and watch my friend eat the shavings out of my mouth. I mean, it was the 6th grade. I got over it."

Another Female Extra, "I knew a guy in high school who swallowed goldfish at parties."

First Female Extra, "Wasn't that the craze for awhile?"

I looked up from my book. Fucking nuts!

I put my head down to nap, and woke up for the last scene of the day. I was hoping to get home so I could grab some quality time with Abe. The problem with being poor and ambitious is you end up working so much, you never build on friendships or love affairs. Its like they are on hold, and eventually when you put someone on hold long enough, they hang up.

The scene was going through airport security. I was brought up to a third level with about 10 other extras.

The 2nd AD pointed at me, "You, can you come up here and take her place?" She motioned to a young blonde and said to her, "We have seen too much of you."

Blonde, "Awwww."

2nd AD, "Oh, you want to stay?"

Blonde, "I haven't been in it THAT much." What a whiny bitch.

2nd AD, "Ok, stay then.(to me) Never mind."

Me, "Whatevs."

Another person came in and grabbed me, "You! We are going to put you right behind the principles."

The 2nd AD turned to look at me, "See? You got in anyway."

I said, "I get it. You all want me. That's what I am here for."

If I am meant to be on-screen, I will be on-screen. No blonde bimbo is going to get in my way. 

My make-up rubbed off on my arm from my small nap at the crazy table. I fluffed my hair and stood between two other extras. We were going through a security line right behind Don Cheadle, Kristin Bell (who chews gum like a cow) and two other big haired white guys. Why is their hair always so big? Its like bigger than Beatlemania.

The action is simple. I just have to put my bag on a conveyor belt that actually moves, take off my jacket, step through a metal detector, get scanned, pick up my things and go. It sounds easy, right? Well, if you ever see me at a grocery store or at the airport, it is never that easy. I really don't understand what I do wrong.

Take 1: I go through, I fumble with my bags, have trouble taking off my coat, my little box with my purse ends up blocking the person behind me. Two gaffers chuckle.

Take 2: This time I have to take off my shoes. I go through, I take my bag up which teeters side to side, then falls over. I jump to pick it up before grabbing my coat and shoes, which I drop. Then I knock into a light.

I said, "This is just getting worse."

Gaffer, "Can we call you Jinx?"

Take 3: This time the conveyor belt doesn't move and I shove my things through anyway. I get scanned and then here "CUT! BACKGROUND have to be more quiet!!"

I walk back out to where the cameras are with the principle talent and get a scolding from the 1st AD who has a British accent and doesn't appear to have washed his hair in 3 days. "Every time you make noise, we have to do it again." My face flushed. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME!? Its like I am possessed by Lucille Ball or something. How did she make it through life before reinventing comedy?

The director said, "I like what we got going on back there. It looks like a real airport with people fumbling."

They change the camera angle, and we do it again. This time the 1st AD comes out right in front of us and gives us instructions to move in slow motion since they are slowing down the frame rate on the camera. Some random dude comes out and gives us numbers, "You are one, you are two, (to me) You have a hole in your sock, (to the guy next to me) and you are four."

Awesome.

The 1st AD looks down at my socks and says, "Is that Santa Clause I am looking at?"

I say, "Its a puppy Santa Clause."

I raise my pant leg to show him. Very dryly he says, "God no, I don't want to see that. (beat) Did you get those for Christmas?"

I said, "Yeah. From my Mom." He looked away, tight smile.

After all was said and done, they applauded. That was the martini shot. The gaffer said, "We are all unemployed as off 2 minutes ago."

Exhausted, I got in my car with my flowers (which I took to work with me because I needed them so badly) and drove home to Abe.

The validation was coming back to me.

I see a spark of light in the distance.

Hope.

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