Friday, May 14, 2010

Two Child Stars and Acapella Groupies

Do you know that I know two child stars? Like, right now. I am actively friends with two child stars. Neither of them are from this country which may explain why they are so relatively well-adjusted. Compared to our child stars. None of whom I know, personally.

Both are ageless. Both are incredibly warm. Both love children. Both are still actresses. Both have beautiful accents.

I have not worked with either of them, but I would very much like to.

The universe has asked me to think a lot about getting older in the last few weeks. First, I wasn't cast in a play because (among other things as well I'm sure) I am too old to make the production work. Then, I went to see an absolutely brilliant high school production of "Hamlet" directed by my absolutely brilliant friend, Sarah, starring an absolutely brilliant high school senior whom I once had to nearly fail in a 9th grade acting class, but that was just because he was lazy and this famous actor's kid was dragging their whole scene down by being a jerk. Not because he wasn't talented. So I went backstage to congratulate this kid, who will be famous in about five years, mark my words. I was standing outside the dressing room waiting for him to emerge, when another cast member breezed out with all the casual confidence of a 15 year old New York City prep kid. I asked him if Hamlet was still in the dressing room. He hovered briefly in flight, looked me up and down and said, "Are you his Mom?" May I remind you that Hamlet is a high school senior. Oh hello nice to eat you.

So then I got an audition. I have been getting a lot of little TV auditions for character roles. One line in a TV show...two lines in a movie. I show up, and as a young "character actress" I find myself in a waiting room full of old ladies, fat African American women, and weasel-faced, frizzy-haired forty-somethings in sweatshirts. I guess I fall into the latter category? And may I say, thus far I have thought to myself "If I were casting this, I'd choose the old lady, the fat African American lady, or that frizzy-haired chick in the glasses over me in a heartbeat." And may I further say, I have not been cast in any of these roles. But then I got this audition for a one-act play festival. I got the script. I read it. And the whole premise of the play is that the character I was auditioning for was devastated because she's too old to be hired as a topless dancer. Really? Really really? I mean, not that I'm looking for employment in that line of work, but really?

Thank you universe.

When I was 20, I was in a beautiful play in college called "Abingdon Square." Funny, I now live in the city that is home to Abingdon Square. I was cast as Aunt Minnie, a white haired, old lady--wig and all. I have been a "young character actress" since I was 11 and cast as Mrs. Fuddy in the 5th grade winter play, "The Christmas Elf." During rehearsal for "Abingdon Square" I remember getting a piece of advice from one of my teachers, a brilliant actor who happened to be performing in the show as well. He told me, "Stop trying so hard to play her age. Don't act your idea of what it is to be old. No one feels old inside. I am surprised every day when I look in the mirror and I don't see a 25 year old looking back at me." This to me, at 20, was a revelation. And some of the best direction I've ever gotten.

So then tonight we went to this crazy event. The United Glee Club of NYC, this 114 year old group of rich white guys from fancy-schmancy colleges who, like, rent Lincoln Center so they can still wear tails and sing with other rich white guys like they did in college (and to their credit also do a lot of wonderful charitable work) had a concert. The acappella group Doc Hubby sang with in college was their special guest group. I fell in love with Doc Hubby when he was the leader of this particular group. I was their biggest groupie in the early 90s. I have a soft spot. So this group was there and singing and bouncing around and being 20 and doing a lot of the same exact stuff they were doing 20 some years ago and I thought...wait a second. If we went up afterward and talked to them, and told them who we were, and who Doc Hubby was, and how awesome they were...even if I'm the only one hip enough (or lame enough) to be wearing jeans to this event, and even if I have a good haircut and don't really look my age, these sweet faced boys would smile benignly and nod and think, as we did in the late 80s, "Man that dude and his wife are ancient." And if they bothered to do the math, or if we simply said what year Doc Hubby directed the group, they might scratch their shaggy heads and go on to say, "Dude, I wasn't even born then."

What they don't know, is that I still wake up every morning and look in the mirror and wonder why I don't still look like I did when I was singing the first tenor part of "Somebody Loves Me" to myself in the shower in my senior dorm.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The April Fools Day 1989 Popcorn Incident

So Aunt Becky of the very funny blog Mommy Wants Vodka, wrote a post recently about a photo album she found in the bottom of a box of old crap her mother gave her. It was full of pictures that, until the lost album was found, she believed were gone. Hard copies of pictures, young people. The kind that once lost, or torn, or used as coasters, are truly lost to the world forever. Unless you take something called a negative to a photo shop and pay actual money to have it developed again. Pictures, she confided, that were full of her and her friends doing weird and crazy stuff when they were young.

I read the post. It struck a chord. I left her the following comment:
So this one time during sophomore year, my roommates and I popped 13 pounds of popcorn. This was before microwave popcorn. BMP. And then during the middle of the night we taped newspaper across the door of the sticks-up-their-asses prep school boys from Rhode Island who lived across the hall, leaving a small space between the newspaper and their door. A space that we filled with 13 pounds of popped popcorn. We took a lot of pictures of that.
To which she replied:
Please tell me you can scan these pictures for me to see. Because I NEED THIS. HILARIOUS!
And I so love getting replies from truly funny bloggers who I want to be friends with, that I did it. I scanned the photos from "The April Fools Day 1989 Popcorn Incident" and I will, without the consent of my roommate Jennifer or the sticks-up-their-asses prep school boys from Rhode Island (who really were good friends despite the fact that one of them called my roommate a Pinko Civil Libertarian. At the time I had no idea what that meant. Now I realize what a huge compliment it was).

So here they are. If I were The Bloggess I could do funny arrows and comments but my photo editing capabilities are way way less advanced than most elementary school children so I will just have to editorialize below.
This is me and Jennifer in our room after popping 13 pounds of popcorn that we got at Stop and Shop. We used two air poppers. One of them literally went up in smoke somewhere in the midst of the popping marathon. We switched to a second one that went on to serve us well for many years. In this photo we still have our contact lenses in. The sign behind me does indeed say "Wombat Crossing." A clue as to just how cool I was in college and maybe why I never had a date for Casino Night.

Okay so here we are taping "The Boston Globe" to Rod, Tod and Jonathan's door. No joke. Those are their names. Nice guys. Very rich. At least one is a foreign diplomat. One is a fancy pants corporate lawyer. Not sure about the other.

Dumping in the popcorn. Dang. Look how skinny I was.

More popcorn. Middle of the night. Nice glasses.

Took my glasses off for the final picture. They are in my hand behind my back.

So what happened? The next morning, when Rod, Tod and Jonathan opened the door, a wall of popcorn collapsed upon them. It worked like a charm. They thought it was hilarious! We were awakened by them laughing and bringing bagels to our room. We are all friends now and spend weekends in the Hamptons....

I lie. My mechanical engineer father would be appalled. Our newspaper structure did not prove strong enough to hold the weight of 13 pounds of popped popcorn. The bottom ripped out. Rod, Tod and Jonathan opened their door to discover their door obscured by The Boston Globe, and right behind it, a mountain of popcorn. They were not amused. I seem to recall Rod chasing us back into our bedroom and dumping a way smaller bag of dirty popcorn in one of our beds. Rather violently.

While she perused her old photo album, Aunt Becky marveled at how fun her life used to be. Although I think she had a lot crazier youth than I did (honestly, the popcorn was about as illicit as my exploits got), we do have that in common. When I flip through page after page of grainy photos, unable now to remember what exactly was so hilarious about pretty much everything we did that I felt it required to be documented, I am struck by how funny every day was. How intensely I felt...EVERYTHING. How hard I laughed. How much junk food I ate. How skinny I remained.

I'll tell you the saddest thing. I now know that the newspaper needs to be really strong. That duct tape would work much better than masking tape. That you need to reinforce it a lot. But I will never have the opportunity to try that joke out again. I don't think so, anyway. I'm pretty sure the Elusive Icelander next door would not be amused. Plus he signed up for extermination this month so he'd probably take a pile of popcorn lying at his feet even worse than the prep school boys.

So someone out there. In college. Maybe with only a week or so left. Would you please oh please try this. Take lots of pictures. Reinforce the newspaper really well. And tell me how it works? Thanks.