I’ve been caught many times talking to myself. I’m okay with it (mostly), but it makes me wonder why I do it. I’m assuming it’s fairly healthy to ask a question in your head, then answer it out loud? Maybe not…It might be the most honest part of my day. In that moment it’s as if I’ve left my body, utterly absolved from my surrounding, refreshed in the sense that I truly haven’t thought about someone over hearing me, seeing me bemused about justifying a jealousy, or why the hell people piss me off so much. The moment I come to, and make eye contact with a stranger whose been looking at me contemplate my existence, they’re watching me shuffle through doubts, to deduce a standard for the next seconds to feel comfortable with. They see me in a physical state of mind and body separation; its as if my subconscious hits autopilot allowing me to feel my own insecurity in a clear way.
There’s two lovely emotions. I feel naked like I’m taking a drug that gets you high in 2 seconds, but only last that long. The rush to the face, now turning red, the stomach knots folding and unfolding like fish caught in a giant net. The blurry coming into focus when you make eye contact, then my reaction to realizing I’m talking to myself in public, and that person on their porch has been watching me for a minute. Of course I don’t own it, I look up, awkwardly say hello, and then pretend I’m talking on a blue tooth, or if I’m lucky enough, I’m pushing the stroller with my two sons, so I start to speak to them as if I had been the whole time. Somehow in my mind I believe my ability to rally and pretend, my willingness to feel the experience and sit down in the chemical reaction makes me a better person. The embarrassment in these moments is addicting, and scary. But its a slice of myself in full frame.
Recently, I went to an affluent part of town to take a “meeting” with a talent agency. I thought my world would shift from this. I literally had planned my own success, saw lights flashing, and the puzzle snapping together. This was it, I was finally getting over my fear of it all. I looked good, really good. I had my hip, tight, green-gray pants on, black inside out custom v neck T-shirt (I cut this myself of course), black monochrome Chuck Taylors, and a black sport coat from the Gap. Walking up to the door, the whole building was reflective glass, I got to see myself before I walked in. I took a hard long look as I got closer to the door, just before I grabbed the handle, my eyes met with my own eyes, a validation was occurring, I felt like magic. I felt like a fucking chi-maestro whose about to take the crown. I was about to wow people, be the star who got discovered in a medium city in the south, and saved from obscurity. Then reality blew up my scene like a truck bomb. The self-imposed splash of arrival, dashed, shaking the fantasy to the bone. The dope track in my head bumping, skipped off like not knowing the lingo in front of a group of cool people, or biting your tongue when you’re about to make a point. It was a shit show, the agency, whom I’ve flirted with for years, essentially played me for a sucker. There was no meeting, no sense of being discovered. I was a number, I was cattle in a line, waiting to feed with the rest of these zeros. As soon as that door opened I knew this was not the way I wanted to make an introduction. The lady behind the desk said (in a robotic voice) “please sign in, take one of these to fill out your personal information, and memorize one of these for your audition.” I’ve had better vibes facing a judge at the courthouse. The voice in my head started going off like a washed up barfly, but my face and body, wearing this cool garb held steady. “Audition? what audition? No one told me about any audition?” I felt the first sweat bead start to form itself on the left side of my receding hairline, the pants I was wearing immediately started telling my body “you look fat in these guy” my pretty face practically jumped out in front of me laughing “you think your ready for this??” The place felt so cheap, super gaudy, shiny bad taste. The homeboy handing out clipboards was a skinny thirty something right out of the movie Swingers, but gay. I kept looking at him to see if he was looking at me, to see if I noticed his body language telling me “who’s this tall handsome guy, he’s the one” but that never happened. The walls were covered in what I assume were the agencies “success” stories. He was on the wall of course, with an autographed framed head shot. Which was a red flag in itself. I thought, “Why the hell are you handing out clipboards in front of your autographed head shot?.”I took a clipboard, sat down on a couch.
The room was small, and somewhat crowded. The whole things felt even worse when I looked around at the other candidates; little girls with their parents, a high school kid with her mom, and another guy, who was heavy-set, not really attractive, wearing cowboy boots and a shaved head. Everyone in the room was white, and it felt like we were all eating at a bad cafeteria whose owner loved 1950s color red, bubblegum, and very high gloss. The nervous energy was almost too much for me to handle. I started to read the audition sheet they wanted me to memorize in a very short period of time. I was suppose to pick one of five brands, each with a paragraph describing a new product. One of them was McDonald’s, yeah fucking McDonalds man. It was for some new chicken bullshit. I skipped to the next one, its was another long description of a product I hadn’t used since high school, when I was shaving my chest with Gillette shaving gel. I set the clipboard down, with the pen, stood up casually, wiped my forehead and immediately looked around for the bathroom. I was getting the hell out of this place, but I had to save a little face, make it look good for these people who seemed to care less that such an “amazing” person was in their presence.
I went for the bathroom door, and of course, its locked, someone else is in there. I’m sure they’re looking in the mirror trying to figure out if there’s an escape route through the ceiling. After a minute or less, they came out, and I was in, it was my turn to come up with a plan to simply walk out the front door. Then I realized, why don’t I just walk out the front door? I mean, who cares, these hollywood wannabes don’t know me, but it was too late. I was in their bathroom, staring at myself in the mirror, and yes, talking to myself. “This isn’t what you want to do, this isn’t how you see yourself, maybe you could fake a phone call?” The lightbulbs in my head blew up like paparazzi storming the home of Justin Bieber. I took a piss, straightened my favorite outfit, and did my little hand swoop to my salt and pepper hair. I walked out on my cell phone, took a beat in the hallway to start a fake conversation before I entered the lobby again. “Well, there’s not much I can do right now, did you see if Tim was available to help you? Are you sure you checked everything, I could get over there if you need me, but I am kind of busy at the moment.” All this is happening as I walk through the lobby, doing a few slow motion spin moves, looking up at the ceiling, looking down at the floor, cell phone pressed tight to my ear. In my head, while my mouth keeps talking to no one on the phone, I’m thinking “there’s the door, I just have to push that shit, and I’m free, but I can’t sprint to my car, I gotta make this look good.” I make it outside and continue the charade of a chat, I do the classic pace back and forth, right in front of their window, I do that for thirty seconds, then make a move to create some distance. My plan is to walk around a couple of cars to get out of sight, but still keep this phone tight to me ear, and keep talking. “How did the dog get out, are you sure you looked everywhere, maybe Shelly can help, I’ll get there as soon as I can.” I get to my car, open the door, sit my tight ass pants in the seat. Boom, end scene. I felt good, but I had to drive out of there first. The silence, the shame of not doing the audition, the reality that this place was a bust, and maybe I’m better off leaving this alone.
I took a long drive back home. Well, I was lost in a part of town I hated and hardly come to. It’s where all the rich assholes live, which was fitting. While I was reflecting I realized I had just went to a “talent” agency to have what I thought was gonna be a (one on one) meeting about my interest in acting or modeling. Instead, it was a mass audition, with no real rhyme or reason. But I found a way out of this by creating a subplot for myself. I created my own improvisation in front of everyone to escape their clutches. They could care less about me, but still, I felt pretty damn good I made something more out of this experience besides reading some bullshit about chicken fingers and green ooze called shaving gel. And I did it because I was nervous, I did it because the vibe felt beneath me, I get the ridiculousness of all of this, but these are the facts of that moment, and my interpretation of the outcome. Crazy, I have no background in acting, nothing but talk, and fantasy. Yet, I still believed enough in my raw emotion, to take a stand for my creative self. And for that I’m proud I did, regardless of how silly, or self-absorbed it sounds. My version of an Artist isn’t about hanging pictures on a wall for the masses to judge, or releasing sounds to match their day. Those things are important, of course. But it has to be bigger than that. Otherwise, a person like myself will always suffer from the let down of completing a piece or a project. The thousands of little heart breaks add up over time and I can’t sustain it year after year.
Maybe these truths never produce an economy of great worth. But in life, I continue to figure out who I am and its through experiences like this I’m able to find humor, and creative moments to grow from. That real experience born from a spontaneous reaction for self-preservation changed a piece of me, good or bad, it’s closer to something else. It’s within the willingness I think we can find truth, and that makes it worth it, for now.