A film crew came to our street last Friday to shoot on location.
I don’t know if it was for a television series or a movie, but whatever it was, they had to go and make a big production out of it.
There were trucks and equipment and assistants with important-looking cappuccinos strewn all over the place.
Idly watching the cast and crew at work got me all choked up with tears of schadenfreude. These folks were were real friendly, too. One of the actors let me pet him.
But best of all was the craft services table. The food was to die for, at least judging by the slightly-used bagel I found on the sidewalk after everyone was gone. Just imagine. I ate––and later pooped––something that once belonged to someone tentatively associated with the entertainment industry in New Zealand! A good day was had by all.
But to tell the truth, Jacquie and I were relieved to see the crew pack up and go. We don’t take truck with theater people. The idea of those types lurking about the neighborhood after dark made us glad to live in a modern, paranoid society.
So imagine our disgust when we came home Sunday evening from one of our tedious hikes in the woods only to find all the parking spaces on our street taken up by traffic cones.
It was obvious the film crew intended to return Monday morning to do more of its dirt.
We didn’t know how to react at first.
But then I remembered that I come from the scariest democracy in the world.
And then I thought to myself: my great great great grandfather––Admiral Buck “The Nucular F**k” Eskow––did not die face-down in his down comforter just so that some punk foreigner could come and take away my God-given right to a parking space directly in front of my rented house in New Zealand.
So I got off my ass for once, got out of my car and marched right over to the cones whilst playing Yankee Doodle on my fife, because some principles are worth making an ass of yourself for.
“Please don’t go near the cones,” a voice said. “Thanks, mate.”
I turned around. That was when I first saw him: the Overnight Location Guard, the lowliest of the lowly assistants to the Second Assistant Location Manager. His job was to stay up all night drinking Mountain Dew to make sure nobody parked where the crew would be filming the next day.
Like the cicada, the Overnight Location Guard appears for a limited time and purpose. After gestating underground for 17 years, the fully mature Overnight Location Guard emerges for two weeks of courtship, mating, laying eggs and dying, all while telling people they can’t park in front of their own house. But that’s just how the circle of life works.
I moved one of the cones.
“Hey, I said you can’t park there,” Overnight Location Guard said.
“Look man,” I said. “I didn’t sit through Saving Private Ryan just so you can tell me what to do.”
This confrontation was shaping up to be a regular David-versus-Goliath story. Only the Goliath here was more like another David, because the Overnight Location Guard didn’t have any power of his own. Let’s face it, neither did I. So our standoff was really shaping up to be one of those classic David-versus-a-guy-evenly-matched-with-David-and-oh-what-a-coincidence-that-guy’s-name-is-David-Too stories that you hear so much about.
I decided to take a new tack. I learned a long time ago that when life gives you lemons, complain as much as possible in as loud and whiny a voice as you can muster.
“But where am I supposed to paaaark my caaaaaar?” I said. “You have all the parking spots on the streeeet blocked off already.”
Just then, I found a space two doors down from my house.
But I wasn’t going to let this major inconvenience pass without a fight. The universe may not be fair, and it may be cruel but damn it, the universe is not going to be unfair and cruel to me.
But what could I do that was more effective than whining? I had to take real action. This production needed to be destroyed once and for all…from the inside. And to do that, I had to go undercover and join the cast as an extra.
The next day I woke up early and made an appointment with a casting company.
The Waitakere Agency, or TWA, as it calls itself, specializes in casting extras.
But more importantly, TWA teaches combat training, which was exactly what I needed for whenever I finally infiltrated the Overnight Location Guard’s team and terminated his command, allowing anyone to park anywhere they wanted and thus ruining the entire production.
The agency’s headquarters are located about 6 klicks west of downtown Auckland. I plotted my route and prepared for the drive over. To demonstrate my eagerness to enter combat training, I decided to wear a headband like the one that actor Rambo wore in his movie Rambo and also to camouflage my face in case I needed to blend in if there were any ferns or ficus plants in the TWA office.
I could not find camo makeup in Jacquie’s cosmetics bag. However, I did come across a nice Intensive Lifting Eye Cream I used to offset the aging effect of my crow’s feet.
Next, I applied just enough Stila Convertible Color to subtly add height and definition to my cheek bones without being obvious about it.
Then I put on some Daring Rose Color Fever by Lancome to give my lips a classic 1940s movie star richness, for maximum kissability and texture.
Oh, also, I couldn’t find anything like Rambo’s bandana in Jacquie’s drawers but there was this beautiful turquoise pashmina that I just couldn’t resist throwing on as I ran out the door.
There were two people at the agency. To make a long story short, they loved me. Oh, they just ate me up. I mean, they told me that one day I could be as famous an extra as Malcolm Flannelwitz or even Zoe Smith-Mackerel. I was like, “Where do I sign?” But, as it turned out, I couldn’t work for them because I never got my Internal Revenue Department number and so my plan was ruined and by the time I got home, the crew was packing up, having finished shooting in our corner of the world. If only my papers had been in order, this never would have happened.