I had to turn down an audition for a tv commercial last week.
Work got in the way.
Thus ended my dream of stardom.
It started years ago, back before my parents turned their black thumbs to puttering around the garden, when my family lived in a rented, second-floor apartment overlooking the Cross Bronx Expressway.
Ah, the Cross Bronx Expressway, a…
…Excuse me…Ah, the Cross Bronx Expressway, a resected portion of I-95, America’s most beautiful viscus, stretching from Miami to Maine’s border with Canada. If you live on the east coast, and you’re eating an apple right now, chances are pretty good that your apple passed my house back in 1975.
Oh, we had a lovely time. The highway was our lullaby. Before we went to sleep, we’d say goodnight to our parents. “What?” they’d say. And every morning we would take our breakfast on the front porch, en plein air. We’d eat our Little Debbie Swiss Rolls and laugh and let the sounds of hydraulic brakes ease us into the busy day ahead.
I know. Little Debbies for breakfast, the most important meal of the day. It’s unconscionable. But we weren’t allowed to have brownies. Those were special brownies. Mother was very adamant on such matters. Milk Bones were for our dog, Trip; special brownies were for mother. She would eat two or three for breakfast and then she’d stare at the television for the rest of the day. Then Trip would turn on the television. Usually, it was showing Godzilla. I’m pretty sure there was a channel that only showed Godzilla movies. If not for mother’s special brownies, I never would have known about it. This distant, glamorous world of Godzilla. I wanted everything Godzilla had. I wanted a career, a family when I grew up, just like Godzilla. One Halloween our teacher brought in some face paint. “If you’re good,” she said, “I’ll paint your face so you can look like your favorite Halloween character.” She dressed some people as Michael Jackson. Others were Dracula (which was the same as Michael Jackson, except the kids who dressed up as Michael Jackson had glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth.) Then it was my turn. I asked to be Godzilla. But the teacher wasn’t familiar with Godzilla’s oeuvre. I tried to explain. The process flustered poor teacher. She hadn’t a clue about Godzilla. She ran out of patience and smeared a glob of green paint on my face and told me I looked like an idiot. But when I looked in the mirror later at home I could see she wasn’t too far off. I did look like an idiot. God, I miss high school. But the teacher didn’t discourage me. I continued my Godzilla studies. Everything I know about the world I owed to the franchise.
I was given a solid foundation in science.
But I could only realize my dream of stardom after moving to New Zealand. Only New Zealand could recognize my natural talents. I appeared in an episode of the long-running soap opera, Shortland Street, as “Man completely obscured behind intentionally placed segment of gypsum board.” Then, of course, there was my one-episode stint as “Retail-level Value-added Grain Merchant” in the critically acclaimed series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. And then there was…No, that’s it.
Yeah, so. On second thought, it hasn’t been an illustrious career—or any kind of career. It was more like a colossally ignominious waste of everyone’s time, which happens to be the heading under which you will find my resume on IMDB.
Which brings me back to last week’s tv commercial audition. I had pretty much told my agency when I started my new job that I couldn’t go on any more cattle calls. And for the most part, they haven’t called me, just like when I was going on auditions. Then last week, the agency insisted that I go out for this television commercial.
“It’s worth a lot of money,” the agent said.
“I have a full-time job now.”
“Come on, buddy,” the agent said. By adopting a familiar tone, she was winning my trust. “You’re perfect for this role.”
“So they asked specifically for a paunchy, thin-haired, ineffectual-looking boob with a distorted face?”
“Yes. You’re the first one that came to mind, buddy.”
I didn’t say anything, but I have to admit, I like being called buddy. One of my hind legs began to twitch.
“They really want you,” the agent said. “Because of all the work you’ve done in the industry.”
This is where the agent lost me. I had to wonder if she knew who was on the phone with her. What work “in the industry” had I done, besides irritate Lucy Lawless with my incoherent blathering about how bad the bagels were at the craft services table? And hadn’t this agent read over my CV?
But then, by “industry” maybe she meant the “adult entertainment sector.” Could this agent have known about the work I’d done under the pseudonym I took using the porn-star naming convention (ie, your first name is the name of your first pet, and your last name is the name of the street you lived on when you were five years old.)
“My work in the industry?” I said. “You mean they’ve seen the movies of Trip I-95-Service-Road-North?”