Monday, July 21, 2008

My Arch Nemesis Lands a Speaking Role

I have lived at least a few of my 9 lives in NYC. I was a studious college student hopping over the velvet ropes of the Institution, past the bouncer of a Dean, and into the straight-A-list. I was an editorial assistant, wading through other people's writing in the slush pile and wanting to slip in my own. Then I bagged it all to be an actress/model, auditioning my creativity all day and working the dinner shift at the restaurant at night. Then, of course, things changed again or, I feel, finally settled into a comfortable Truth. All of these different eras have had enough characters to fill volumes of books. And occasionally, one resurfaces in the present.

Like last night. I was just trying to lull the day away with some Conan O'Brien jokes when, during the commercial break, I saw her. My arch nemesis, with the killer eyebrows I could never pluck my way to. Teeth as white as 10 Crest Whitestrips boxes stuck together. Blue eyes as piercing as high noon in the middle of July. And blazing red hair. Oh the hair, red, like mine. We worked the NYC audition circuit with the same calling-card, the red hair. Which is what made her my....nemesis.

That and the fact she bagged every audition she walked into while my odds weren't so good. She and I used to cross paths all the time. She was usually walking out the studio door while I was walking in, looking all triumphant. And everyone at the casting desk looking all star-struck, like they didn't need to see anymore girls but, hell, I'd come all this way and there were a few more minutes of tape on the reel, so....I'd walk to the masking tape mark and stare into the black void of the camera lens and use every last one of those 30 seconds to make my impression. "Thank you," then I'd leave.

And she'd always get the call-back while I'd be back on the casting couch, which started to feel like the revolving shrink's couch, holding all my worst fears and secrets. I started seeing her everywhere I wasn't...on the front of hair color boxes in Duane Reade, her face smiling out at me in multiple with endless eyebrows out-arching mine. On the cover of magazines at the grocery store check-out, convincing customers to impulsively take her home. And now, here she was, twirling around a white-as-heaven studio, in and out of a spotlight, talking about Some Skincare product.

Talking! She had done it! Landed the ultimate....the holy grail of commercial modeling jobs....a Speaking Role! She was in a Talky! I knew what the sound of her voice was really saying.....Ka-Ching!....Over and over, rolling with every airing into her bank account.

But I'm being dramatic. I guess that's where my drama lives, in my writing, while hers is teleported into living rooms and onto grocery store check-out stands in the flash of eyes like gold coins glinting in the sun. And now, twirling around in between Conan jokes to the sound of flash bulbs and scripted lines about.....

Anti-aging creme?

Ah! The only thing worse is landing a tampon ad or some ointment spot that offers so much money you can't turn it down.

And with that last twirl into the camera, I thought I saw a flash of embarrassment in her eyes like a small cloud passing through her July sky. And I didn't envy her, smiling her somewhat retouched baby-crows-feet into the screen. There's a price for everything, and her big paycheck came from telling everyone it was the end of an era. You know you're over the model/actress hill when the jobs go from zit-cremes to wrinkle-repairers. Oh, Arch Nemesis, we're both older now and the times have changed.

*opinions in this article have been changed.....of course there's nothing wrong with wrinkles and I'm happy for ol' Archy. Really, I am. :)