‘Love me Mommy, Love me! I'm an actress!' I squealed into the dark air of the parking lot after an evening of readings at the local coffee house. After I did that, my soul felt cleansed.
Why do I do this to myself? Why do I continue to torture myself by going to writing events? I should just stay the course, point my writing boat to where I want to go, and sail there. Sure, the wind sometimes dies, but I can reset the sails and make the boat go again. But this event was like a jet ski buzzing around the bay, making a lot of noise, and using a lot of gas, and sailors know that only assholes ride jet skis.
Let me back up a second and give you a little exposition. There's a funky coffee shop within walking distance of my house. Apparently, once a month, there's an evening of readings of personal essays by David Sedaris wannabes. Yes, David Sedaris has wannabes. My Uncle, who has a lot of funny stories to tell, decided to check it out, and since I'm a Sunshine Jen wannabe, I decided to check it out as well.
The readings happened in a funky back lounge with brown couches, yellow and red walls, and a tiny stage with some mood lighting. We settled onto a too-big couch with our coffees. Yeah man, we were cool, we were beat.
The blonde hostess/mc of the event wore beige linen pants and a white top. She was in her late twenties and was an actress who desperately wanted her life to be turned into a sitcom. She told us that her Mom was in town from Maryland. Her Mom smiled and waved. In between the other readers, the hostess read from her journal about her anxiety about her mother's visit and how her mother makes her want to drive into the concrete median. Is it just me, or is that really fucked up? Or simply rude?
I won't bore you with lonnnnnng in-depth descriptions of all the readers. I have too much compassion for my own readership---all five of you. However, let me briefly mention the screenwriter who found her quirky (her word) voice as a novelist which got her a meeting with Super Hollywood agent and she then wrote a story about the meeting which ended up being career suicide. Uh-huh. This screenwriter had really nice shoes on.
Then, there was the lady who turned her daughter issues into an interpretive dance in which she screams ‘I hope my daughter's boyfriend isn't Colin Farrell!' while waving her hands above her head. I wanted to ask if she meant blonde Colin Farrell or brunette Colin Farrell. Outside of the sex tapes, what is really that wrong with Colin Farrell? He's probably just a big Momma's boy.
Then there was another actress with a story about putting on a hamburger costume and getting dunked in a dunk tank for eight hours for a grocery store promotion. At least, she didn't talk about her own mother although the piece did have a mother from hell who kept encouraging her daughter to ‘dunk the hamburger'. She even reached for an epiphany at the end, and I always appreciate an attempted epiphany.
But lo and behold, here comes another actress, writing a one woman show, with a story about her mother's bathroom in Florida. Her mother's a shopaholic Christian. Then, here comes another actress with a fiancée with bad hair, and they're having wedding planning arguments, but they go to church, and he is like the Bono of her universe. Ugghhhhhh.
I turned to my uncle. He had a very neutral but somewhat amused look on his face. He use to negotiate contracts, so he has not only a game face but variations on a game face.
There was a lone guy in this sea of actresses. He actually had a quirky family for real. Apparently, he is getting married to the hamburger girl. Now, that would be a wedding to go to.
At the end of the readings, all the writers went up on stage for a curtain call even though there was no curtain. These are definitely actresses. Rarely does one see a group of writers bow with any ease.
As I walked away, I tried to figure out why I was boiling inside. Maybe, I'm just not excited about the intricately documented lives of actresses.
Look, actresses in LA, do you have idea how glamorous your lifestyle (even with all its failures and humiliations) is to people all around the world? Can you please talk about something beside yourselves? You all are just not that interesting.
Yes, I know, I should support people in their writing ventures. I should cheer people on to the promised land of writerly success. I should tell people to dream and believe because otherwise, the world would be a mediocre place.
Wait, the world is a mediocre place. Fuck the support and cheering. Fuck the literary ambitions of actresses. Fuck the quirky family and the Momma shit. Fuck the self-absorption. Fuck being fake nice. That night, I didn't fucking feel like saying ‘ohhhh I loved your present participles' to complete strangers because I didn't love their present participles. I didn't give a fuck about any of them and had no desire to sit in their writerly presences ever again.
As my uncle and I walked away, we started telling funny stories about my aunt, so the evening wasn't a total waste. There was the story of when her camera rewound during the bride's grandmother's speech at my brother's wedding. Then, there was the time she wanted to distribute condoms at a junior high graduation at a Catholic School. Later, my Aunt, my Uncle, and I sat around and told funny stories that could be told over and over again because they're funny.
Later, I told my uncle that if he wanted to tell stories in public, he should check out a guy named Spalding Gray. My aunt heartily agreed and told us about the time she was flipping channels and found one of his movies. She was drawn in. She had to keep watching him. She didn't click another channel. That Spalding Gray, he could sure tell a story.