Friday, May 19, 2017

casting couch potatoe...

(original image from Two Old Beans Vintage via Pintrest)
This weekend we finally got to watch LaLaLand. We were all pretty excited to watch it, and by “all”, I really mean “only me”. After all, it’s not every day you get to watch The Movie of the Year, which is also Not the Movie of the Year.

Anyway, watching Emma Stone’s character go through hundreds of castings reminded me of my brief foray into the world of film. Those that know me slightly, but not very well, may be inclined to think I’d be a natural actor – such is my loudness and clownery. However, this could not be further from the truth.

I recall how, in Standard 7, my best friend Exotica and I were tasked with reciting “Macavity the Mystery Cat” for English. We spent weeks and weeks rehearsing after school and were sure we had this poetry recital thing down pat.

But here’s the thing, I’d forgotten that when faced with a nerve-wracking experience, my go-to reaction is to giggle. It really is most inappropriate. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times I’ve giggled in the most inopportune moments and at the most sombre of occasions. And if you think it’s difficult to hold back a cry, I can only report that it is way, way more difficult to stifle a laugh. But perhaps you already know this.

Anyway, the day of the recital came and I was feeling pretty good about things. Exotica and I positioned ourselves centre stage, in front of the red velvet curtains. If you know the poem by T.S. Eliot, you’ll remember that it’s roughly seven stanzas and begins with the line “Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw”. Well, there was something about the phrase “hidden paw” that set me off. So struck was I at the hilarity of those words that I couldn’t even speak. I just stood there shaking with laughter while Exotica had to deliver the ENTIRE POEM on her own. And because I was just standing there shaking, the only way “out” was to reverse through the slit in the velvet curtains and disappear.

Given my bad history with the world of theatre, I can only think that it was the allure of making a quick buck that rekindled my interest in acting and made me sign up with a casting agency. And so it was that one fine Monday morning, I received an SMS that read: Casting at such-and-such street. 10am. Bring along a swimming costume.

Well, I thought, there’s no time to go home and get my swimming costume, I’ll just have to go as I am.

I arrived at a pokey house in Woodstock and found myself amongst a sea of serious faces. A number of men and woman sat around looking like deer caught in the headlights. I soon found out why.

After some comings and goings, I heard a gruff voice say “Number 17. NUMBER 17!!! YOU ARE BEING CALLED”.

I scuttled through a door into a barren looking room that looked like it was, until recently, inhabited by crack addicts. A bright camera light shone on a cheap deck chair in the centre of the room, and I could only just make out the silhouette of the person who owned the gruff voice.

“Where’s your swimming costume”, the gruff voice said.

“Umm, I’d already left home when I got the SMS” I hear myself say.

“Well”, the gruff voice adds, “the casting is for a woman on a beach in her swimming costume. You’re just going to have to do it in your underwear”.

Holyshitfuckcrappoopfuckinghellbloodypoopshit, I think to myself.

I wish I could say that it was only on this particular day that I chose to wear my worst underwear ever, but it wasn’t – it was my actual and real underwear. The bra was one of those three-in-a-pack bras from Woolies. You know the cotton, underwire kind that over time, gets so thin that it actually goes see-through. It was at the see-through stage and not, I repeat NOT, in a sexy way. My panties weren’t even panties. I’d taken to wearing BK’s underpants because, well, they’re quite comfortable.

At this point, can we just take a moment to talk about women’s underwear? Why is it that men get to wear sensible, 100% cotton underwear, that neatly cups their buttocks, sans scratchy trim, while women are expected to wear all manner of medievally uncomfortable clingy, scratchy, creeping panties?

Let’s start with the G-string, or as a friend of mine calls it, anal floss. This is a truly horrible invention. While its fair to say that you don’t have to worry about wedgie-making arse-creeping underpants, having something that thin rub between your nasty bits just has UTI written all over it.

Next, the high-cut panty. These seem to have the uncanny ability to simultaneously ride up the arse and pinch in the waist. Somehow the strip of fabric between where the high end of the leg ends and the waist begins, is magically able to compress itself, making a kind of belt that digs into your fleshy bits.

The bikini cut would be fine if they weren’t, you know, a bikini. The bum bit is all good and well but if you have any, and I mean any, kind of a muffin-top, you are in trouble.

Boyfriend panties seem like an exciting solution. One would think that they would just be a more girly version of men’s underpants but they aren’t. If your bum is any longer or bigger than a granny-smith apple, you will find that you aren’t so much wearing panties, but rather a kind of butt-sash. When I tried them on, my butt looked like a giant onion that had a little ribbon tied around it.

I should point out, of course, that any of these panties are fine if you have a physique like “the ladies on the boxes” (as TFTF calls them). If, like me, your body-type is quite, quite different from the “ladies on the boxes”, you are in for a rude surprise.

But back to the casting. I strip down to my horribly worn and slightly manly underwear. There isn’t only a gruff voice in the room but also two cameramen. I’m blushing furiously but try to seem professional as I wave to an imaginary husband and say my lines. To make matters worse, there aren’t actually any real lines, you’re simply expected to make them up and for some reason, I decide that they don’t need to be spoken out loud, but rather mimed. Like a woman in a silent movie, I wave and chatter wordlessly to this invisible, imaginary husband who is swimming in the sea.

All I could think to myself is that if I ever became famous, THIS would be the “before she became famous video” that would be released to the tabloids.

And that, dear reader, is why I’ve forfeited becoming famous.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

picture books and detours...

Recently (for the umpteenth time) I decided to be all grown up and “take life seriously” and all that stuff so I signed up for a workshop on How to Write a Picture Book (because what could be more adulty and serious than that, right?) The workshop was yesterday and I was pretty excited because a) I got to go out of town for the day, and b) I didn’t have to make food for anyone. I was also excited to attend the workshop but was plagued with thoughts of being totally crap and looking like an idiot.

You can imagine then, that when I woke up in the early hours of yesterday morning with tummy rumblings that suggested that I might become intimately involved with a loo for at least part of the day, I took it as a bad omen. BK had complained of similar rumblings in the night and we shared a romantic moment – as all couples do - where we contemplated the cause of our cranky guts.

As of yesterday, I’ve learnt that it’s hard to get ready for the day and go to the loo more than the standard amount of times (I’m strictly a once-a-day, lets-get-this-shit-over-with kind of girl). I’m not quite sure how I did it, but I even managed to apply eyeliner (though to be fair, I can’t promise that they were equal.)

As you well know, there’s nothing like a sense of fear and urgency to make you want to poo. Already running late, all manner of fresh cuss words escaped my mouth when I found that the route I’d planned to take was closed for road works and that the detour would not only take longer, but would also take me through a dodgy part of town.


Typical to all detourees, there was a brief moment when I thought I’d trick the system and duck down a side road but alas, this only led to more cuss words and an even later ETA.  What I also learnt, as of yesterday, is that it’s one thing to be armed with an emergency roll of loo paper whilst driving along a nice, green, foliaged stretch of road. It’s quite another thing finding yourself scoping out the heart of Cape Town’s gangland for a suitable emergency stop.

I drove like exactly like a running-late idiot does: flashing little grannies in small cars so that I could overtake, trying to make up time by speeding on the open road, only for the same granny to cruise up calmly next to me at the traffic light and give me a smug look. It was infuriating.

When I finally arrived I was six minutes late and as you know, late is what you want to be when you hope to make a good impression. With dog hair clinging to my dress (they wouldn’t let me do the school run without them) and my “writerly” scarf all askew, I came into a room of quietly-seated people. I talked too loudly when I apologised for being late and I believe a small laugh escaped my lips, as it always does when I’m nervous.

Because I now felt so large and noisy and late, I tried to make myself small and quiet and invisible. And just as I felt as if I was doing rather well with this being small, quiet and invisible business, I felt a nip in the air and decided to put on my cardigan. (If you go to writer’s workshops you get to call it a “cardigan” and not a “jersey”. We’re fancy that way.) All I can say is that it’s tricky as hell trying to stay small and invisible when you have to stretch out your arm to slide it through a cardigan’s sleeve. The very movement in itself demands a degree of bigness.

Perhaps it was the conflict between trying to do a big movement in a small way, or perhaps it was just that I was trying get this cardigan-putting-on-affair done as quickly as possible, either way, just as I thought I was home free, my flailing arm slid through the sleeve too quickly.  And then, how does the saying go: ”More haste, less speed”. I managed to knock over a glass of water which then splashed all over the course convenors iPhone and then ran like a mini-waterfall down the table and onto the floor. I’m not sure where all the blasted water came from but I swear, somewhere between being in the glass and landing on the phone and floor, it seemed to triple in quantity.

The course convenor was very cool about it all but secretly, I just know he was thinking WWWW. TTTTTT. FFFFFFF.

While he went to fetch a small beach-cabana’s worth of towels to mop it up, I made a weak joke to the rest of the attendees about how this is exactly how I’d like them to remember me.

I feel it would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the chair I was seated on. In the movie Madagascar 3, there is a very big bear that rides on a very small tricycle. If you find a picture of this bear on this bicycle, keep that image in your mind for that is exactly how I looked. As it is, I have trust issues with fold-out chairs – I’ve seen too many of them break in my lifetime – but this one seemed particularly fragile. (While we’re on it, is it just me or do you also think that there should be some kind of law whereby chairs can only be sold if they are able to carry a certain load?) To make matters worse, not long ago, I broke one of my friend’s Eames replica dining chairs. It was mortifying. As a consequence, much of my day yesterday was dedicated to trying to sit lightly but comfortably on a small chair.  Everyone must have thought I had stomach flu or something, such was my fidgeting.

It was rather a relief then, when lunchtime rolled around. Although I’d hoped to take a nice walk around Stellenbosch to stretch my legs, I feared my rumbling stomach may actually have been distracting to the other people in the room and I decided instead to get something to eat. I found a nice table, under an oak tree at a cute looking restaurant that primarily served roosterbrood. You cannot imagine my disappointment when I sat down at said table, only to find that the legs were on such uneven levels, that I was forced to sit with just one bum-cheek on the very edge of the chair in order to stay upright. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten quite so quickly.

If there was a moral to this story, it would probably be “If you have stomach flu and you’re late and you knock over water and piss everyone off, don’t let it break your stride”.  And who knows, I may decide to write a picture book after all. It could be about a clumsy, tardy girl who is prone to small chairs and misfortune. I can’t think why anyone wouldn’t buy it.