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Yet more from my illustrious career as a famous ballerina/movie star
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I was at an audition for a lead role in a new tv show. I was nervous. The casting agent, I’ll say Michael, wanted to get to know me. This is a thing casting agents sometimes do, they want to ‘get to know’ you. I was so naïve, I thought the point of an audition was for me to get to know the character, to get inside, to give this character a chance to live if even for only a few lines out there in the sun of real time.
Michael was slender, well dressed and coiffed, the way they are, a small, neat man with a shiny pate, expensive khakis, more expensive glove-soft leather loafers, a deceptively relaxed short sleeved shirt, perfectly manicured hands, a tan.
I must have looked as puzzled and freaked out as I was when he asked me to tell him what I did well. I couldn’t think of anything. I had taken in a rescue cat with serious likeability issues and, I thought, some pretty pronounced anti-semitic behaviors, and I thought that through kindness and patience and food I was bringing her around to the formerly-wild-civet state of cohabitation but I didn’t think that’s what he meant. Good with cats? Is that a thing?
He leaned over towards me, not Harvey Weinstein leaning over, just supercharged therapist leaning over, his hands joined and said:
“Who is (my former name, let’s call her) Lisa Simpson?”
“I – I – I – “ I said eloquently.
“Do you make a good cup of coffee, for instance?”
I did make a pretty good cup of coffee. I didn’t use an espresso machine but I used a very, very dark Italian roast and full fat organic milk. Most people liked it. I nodded my head.
“I guess so?” I said.
What I wanted to say was that I was actually a pretty good actress. I sort of thought that’s why I was there.
All at once, though, my mind went blank and I was paralysed as all my deepest insecurities overwhelmed me. I didn’t know if I was doing blow jobs right, my breasts were too small, there were disturbing little pockets of fat on the top of my inner thighs, and I was convinced that I still spoke French with an American accent.
When I was in fifth grade my teacher explained to my mother right in front of me that I was incapable of doing fractions, any part of them, and that was why she didn’t recommend me skipping a half grade (they had half grades then). In parting, she mentioned that, also, my handwriting was execrable. This is why I remember her name, Miss Quinn. Because she was so mean.
When we left, my mother looked at me with an expression that was 1/3 pity, 1/5 scorn and whatever the rest of that was of disappointment.
I saw her point.
I felt that my understanding fractions was probably not a reasonable goal for me. After all, I planned on being either a ballerina or a movie star, both non fractional jobs as far as I knew. However, I made a point of developing extremely clear and beautiful handwriting and, until I broke my right wrist a few years ago and realized that nobody cares about that anymore so I may as well write the way I want to, I kept it up.
I didn’t know if that was what Michael meant. After an uncomfortable pause, I blurted out something like: “I type fast. I speak okay French. I have good taste in boots.”
I don’t remember the rest of that interview and I hope he doesn’t either. In fact, I hope that he and Miss Quin are living together in some kind of smoggy computational heaven where all the acting is bad and all the coffee is instant.

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