Monday, August 14, 2006

Why There Is A Tape... Oh God I Can't Even Say It

Waiting between the curtains as a kid, I was never nervous. The other little girls would twitter with nerves and excitement while I stood stoically in line, stretching ligaments and muscles into perfect suppleness. Had I been surrounded by others less titillated by the novelty of blue eye shadow and bright lights, I imagine there would have been a brief but succinct huddle before show time.

Remember ladies, stage right by the red curtain has a dip in the floor so watch your step. Hit your marks on the green tape before the lights come up and end it on the yellow. Hold your smiles and shake it like you mean it, bitches.

As the years went on I branched out from my yearly displays of pointe shoe perfection and tap dancing talent and into the world of the theater, or theatre if you’re an aspiring off-Broadway performer. I had random parts in Oklahoma!, Krazy Kamp and Charlie Brown and relished every moment I got to strap on the microphone equivalent of a sound engineer’s worst nightmare and parade about the stage, belting out the three notes I could effectively hold and the seventeen others I most certainly could not.

My first theatrical singing solo came around my junior year in high school when my drama teacher held auditions for the much *cough* anticipated Charlie Brown musical. The afternoon of auditions, my classmates sat in petrified silence as Ms. Lamb called repeatedly for the first volunteer. Finally I sighed with great dramatic abandon, rolled my eyes heavenward and marched confidently towards the stage. Once there I instructed the piano player that I wanted to sing Ado Annie’s solo from Oklahoma! but the piano player only knew things like Rod Stewart and Lord I Lift Your Name On High so instead of attempting to learn a Godly-like song or imitate a bleached-out fertile old man, I opened my mouth and began to sing.

Not so strangely, that song is actually one of the few I can sing, not because of incessant practicing but because it requires less vocal ability and more gusto and I had plenty of the latter, far less of the former.

Later that week a blue envelope was hand delivered to my AP English class, informing me I had the part of Peppermint Patty. Just in case you’re not up on your Charlie Brown history, Patty was the one so desperately in love with ol’ Chuck, while ol’ Chuck was desperately in love with the little red headed girl. But that didn’t stop my campy love song from ricocheting off every available surface as night after night I sang my undying love to that yellow shirted idiot. I wasn’t so deluded that I thought I was destined for greatness, however. It’s just that it hit me halfway through rehearsals that I wasn’t so strong of a singer unless I was being backed up by a chorus of ten other dancing guys and gals and that maybe in the future I could try to be less of a badass and refrain from getting myself into situations where I have to sing to a prerecorded backing track played over twenty year old speakers. Because by the end, not only was I aware I had no singing ability, everyone else was aware I had no singing ability.

Honestly, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson way back then. That maybe before I ante up to the plate I check and make sure my bat isn’t made of pure dried shit. Or that my big shiny hat isn’t really a shellacked piece of gingham. But it’s like every now and then I get distracted, maybe by a stray dragonfly or an errant piece of hair, and I open my mouth to the biggest stream of floatacious word vomit you’ve ever seen.

Such was the case my senior year in college.

First semester I had a class with this professor who was supposed to teach things like communications and journalism and ended up teaching a class on film, because he knew jack about communications and journalism. Which was actually perfectly fine with me because by then I’d had it up to HERE with journalism classes and my soul-sucking job in a news station.

As our final project, Senor Professor handed out copies of an unpublished script, instructing us to choose a ten minute scene. We were then to cast it from the eager pool of theater majors, shoot it, edit it and present it to the class before Christmas break. The catch being, of course, that you needed the help of the entire class on each and every shoot. Unless you’re a control freak like me and choose a scene that requires one actress, one room and one camera. Then you just ignore the words your partner speaks at you and do it however the hell you want.

Now, for four years I’d been in these classes with the same people. I didn’t chill with Christy but I knew she was a bad ass softball player. And Doug was a bit squirrely but could put away some hard liquor. And Hudd and Riggin? Just your generic everyday frat boys, complete with muddy Jeeps and chromed-out Tahoes. And being frat boys, they chose the one questionable scene in the whole script. The part where the main character gets out of rehab, slams back a bottle of NyQuil in a seedy bar and has his wicked way with a bar rat in the alley out back.

But when we had to cast our actors, they ran into a bit of a roadblock. Not a single one of the girls would agree to put on a slutty dress and whisper sweet, albeit slurred, nothings in someone’s ear. There probably would have been a revolt among the males as well but we only had three to choose from and one was so obese there’s no way he could have pulled off an alley touchdown and the other two had ‘previous commitments.’ Meaning they had girlfriends who would personally saw off their, you know, bits and nail them to wall.

Which should somewhat explain how I found myself in the alley behind Linens-n-Things on a very chilly night in mid November, wearing my very best slut dress, my come-hither knee high boots and some wicked cool teased hair. I’d finally agreed to the part after Hudd had caught me after class twice in a row and walked me to my car, telling me in his deceptively sweet soft voice that he really wanted me to be the actress in his scene because he was going to play the guy and he knew I was cool. Not like those other girls, he’d said. You’re a total badass.

Hi! My name is Gullible! How are you today!

It was as the lights were being set up for the alley scene that I got my first case of stage fright, ever. Hudd and I had to stand so close our noses touched, just like that, just so, for a full hour as the crew moved this light and that light and that one way over there. There is nothing more terrifying than having to share an inch of breathing space with a boy who you’d like to see sans his letter shirt, all while your classmates watch and you fake nonchalance and a total indifference to the fruits of having a personal gym in a frat house.

And then, oh dear god, and then we started filming. This was the part I’d always been kind of fuzzy on, really. I mean, he was just taking this bar rat outside for a little hanky panky and then he was going to stumble on his merry way while she fixed her mascara in a shiny pink compact. That whole PRETENDING TO HAVE SEX ON CAMERA THING had never really solidified in my head because this was a CLASS, surely it was just going to be kind of suggestive with a little leg here, a little grunt there and BAM! We’re done! Let’s all go out for ice cream.

Note to future self: Please stop being so bloody stupid.

Without warning Hudd hefted me off the ground, wrapping my legs around his waist and placed his forearms in the least sexual way possible under my ass. And let’s be honest here, when you’re upper body is about 4.7 feet from the other person’s upper body, it’s really about as hot as playing water rugby, only without the water. So we stood around like that while they got random shots of Hudd’s shoulders moving, uh, just so and his legs bracing, uh, just so and when they tried to get shots of my face moving, uh, just so I found myself completely overcome with annoyance. I couldn’t have wiped my Bitch Face off with a gallon of bleach and an SOS pad and they finally just gave up, telling me to turn my face as far to the side as possible while they got a few wide shots of us, the alley and my super duper wrinkled dress.

Back at school I managed to be conveniently absent when they debuted the final product and had only those random flashes of face-burning embarrassment when a stray thought or two would cross my brain. It wasn’t until nearly two years later that I came to realize the full extent of my actions and the total shit I manage to get into, all because of some desire to be a badass.

I’d moved back from New York nearly five months before and found myself in the endless cycle of ‘catching up.’ I’d stopped off at a local bar on my way home from work to say hello to some old coworkers and ended up staying until the wee small hours of the morn, sipping on cosmos and munching on pretzels. Right before last call I felt a tap on my arm and I turned, looking into a face only vaguely familiar.

“Are you Robin?” he asked.

“Um, yes.”

“You went to UCA, right? Communications major?”

“Um, yes.”

“Awshitdude! I knew that was you!” He turned to his buddy three tables back. “Steve-O! You have to come here, dude! This is that girl from that film with Hudd!”

Right then and there I would have sold my kidney to crawl in a hole and die. As it turns out, copies of that tape made it all around fraternity row and while I can confidently say that it was about as risqué as an episode of 7th Heaven, it doesn’t take much to set off the imagination of an over-intoxicated frat boy. Which is why I now mix my cosmos in the privacy of my own home, thank you.


Adam said...

Man, I have little to no stories about my business computing course.... no movies, no alleys, no eternal embarrassment....

Sigh, maybe I need to go back to school.

Drunken Chud said...

at least you did yours for class. all the sex tapes i have were shot with or without mine or the other party(s) consent. meh. such is life.

rob said...

Time to update the Netflix queue.

duckie said...

I was a frat boy. just thought I'd throw that out there.

I really like the way you write. It's intelligent, witty, and interesting.

But don't let it go to your head.

How 'bout a cosmo?

i, Bobo said...

I think I stopped by that night but wasn't there for the dry hump. I do, however, believe that I own a copy of said pornography, it's in storage somewhere.

500 bucks and I won't upload the copy I have onto the internet...

Jenni said...

That's all I can say.
Damn. *shakes head*

birdie said...

adam- be grateful you don't have stories like these
chud- uh, ew
rob- just search for 'Coed Gets Dry Humped By Beefy Frat Guy'
duckie- please make me a cosmo and send it via fedex, stat
i,bobo- $500 says you won't do it because you know DAMN GOOD AND WELL that I'll break your godamn knees. Shady ass little fuckwit, you are. Shady Shady Shady.
jenni- don't judge me :)

duckie said...

I tried taking one on the plane but they made me drink it before I could board. Sorry sister. Can i still get a dry hump in the alley?

birdie said...

Of course, Sweet Thang! Though I think my taste has *cough* matured since then. I prefer street corners now, thank you.

Carl from L.A. said...

I think you should at least get some screenshots and save them to show your grandkids and tell them "Grandma was smokin' hot once."