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joel

acting up

good day!

let me ask you a question – what were you doing last thursday evening?
i’ll give you a moment to recall.

1. perhaps watching a rerun of “so you think you can dance”?
2. perhaps enjoying a large bowl of iced cream?
3. perhaps having coffee with a 45 year old man with long greasy hair who thought your name was josh and inexplicably wanted to talk to you about politics and the world?

if you said #3, that means we were doing the same thing last thursday!

yes friends, i went to coffee with the 45 year old failed actor who lived in my old dirty crack-filled building. i wrote about him on the blog before. i saw him every day when i came home. he sat there on his old lawn chair, smoking cheap cigarettes and drinking no-name beer. perhaps because i gave him the time of day, he would greet me and ask me how my day was, and i would answer politely. this would turn into conversations that lasted up to 30 minutes. mostly he would talk about his job, life, and missed experiences. sad piano music would play in the background. birds observing nearby would become misty-eyed. and i, dulled by watching modern comedy, would find the whole experience hilarious.

so when i told him i was moving out of the building and he asked me to go for coffee, of course i complied. mostly to get a good blog post out of it.

i brought my phone along and set it to “record”. i would post the audio but i doubt you’d be able to make it out, mostly because it sounds like it’s being recorded while being held between two jackets (which it was). but i will transcribe the good parts.
(honestly, sometimes you think that stuff like this will be comedy gold when in fact it turns out to be awkward and weird.)

[i enter the coffee shop]
actor: hey, josh! [this man still thinks my name is josh.]
me: oh, hi! [i sit down]
actor: so how are things?
me: they’re goo-
actor: aren’t you going to get coffee?
me: oh, yeah –
actor: here, i’ll wait here.
me: okay.
[i get coffee, begin questioning whether i will be stabbed when i sit down or when i get up to leave.]

actor: what did you get?
me: the mochachino, it’s what i always get. i sorta fear change [i laugh]
actor: see, josh, you can’t fear change, because how can you better things if change doesn’t happen?
me: right. mmm.
actor: i always thought about moving on – with acting – but i guess in the same way i didn’t want to take risks, you know?
me: oh yeah. no you gotta take risks, you know, to move forward.
actor: yeah.
[awkward pause]
me: so are you going to try acting again?
actor: i know a guy, i think i told you about him – peter – and he’s putting together – sort of an underground play, really groundroots, but he says that he might be able to get me a part.
me: oh, cool!
actor: yeah, i hope that works, because i miss the stage.
me: yeah. i remember doing acting, it was always great fun. a really great experience.
actor: oh, the best experience.

it went on like this for a long time. i began to get sad.

me: but you know, it’s best to be happy for the success you already have had.
actor: [silent]
me: cause i remember you telling me that you had won some awards?
actor: yes.
me: so, yeah, like, you can definitely be happy about those.
actor: [silent]

at this point, i thought “here it is! here’s where i get shot! weeee!”

but it just remained awkward for a good ten minutes, myself guiding the conversation, the actor continuing to seemingly get more and more depressed. i told my friend to call me after half an hour to see if i had been stabbed, and i used that as an excuse to leave the scene – much like a botched date.

i did feel slightly disappointed after the whole experience. after all, i got –
no revelation about this failed actor’s sad life
no bonding between two different age groups
no attempted murder

just a sad, weird experience that i feel strangely dirty for undertaking. and i did it all for you.

certainly, the best moment came about twenty minutes into the exchanges:

me: well, i think i’ll enjoy journalism because it’s really more —
actor: are you f***ing kidding me?
me: — hmm?
actor: pardon my language. this f***ing guy just gave me the stupidest look.
me: which guy?
actor: the guy on till.
me [i look. there is a man taking orders, seemingly normal]: oh. yeah. that guy —
actor: i’ll punch him, man [laughs]
me: yeah, that guy isn’t doing anyone any favors, am i right?
[silence]
me: yeah, punch him!

poop in bed!

good wishes!
jkd

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