I dug the business card out of a zippered pocket inside my purse, and straightened out its curling edges. Eight years I had carried this card, transferring it from purse to purse, telling myself that one day I would make the call.
Today was that day.
My kids were the ones who propelled me into action. They had come home unexpectedly Saturday night, their adolescent feet thumping on the stairs as they raced down to find me sprawled out on the couch, sipping a glass of wine and watching Trading Spaces.
“Mom!” they exclaimed in unison. “This is what you do every Saturday night! You need to get a life!”
I was quite content with my same ol’, same ol’, and they were the ones that were home a day earlier than expected, so this would not even be a conversation if they had stuck to schedule, and I told them so.
“Seriously, Mom!” my teenage daughter mustered a mother-like authority. “If you don’t start doing something else, we are going to stop coming home.”
“Yeah, Mom,” my son added. “It’s depressing.”
“Really?” And you’re Dad’s house isn’t even more depressing?, I wanted to say, but let it go.
So here I am, card in hand, about to make the phone call that could potentially change my life – or at least get me off the couch on Saturday nights. Admittedly, the last few weeks have been reruns anyway, so it wouldn’t be like I’d miss anything.
I dial the number and wait through several rings.
The thing is, as much as I have wanted to do this, I just kept telling myself I was too busy, it was silly, I’m too grown up, and so on.
“Mysteries R Us!”
“Hi. I got your number from…, er, I mean, I have your card… and I was wondering…do you need anyone…er, are you looking for actors?” Great! I’ve blown it from the outset.
“Yep! We’re holding auditions Thursday night. 7:00. Can you be there?”
“This Thursday! Yes! I mean, perfect!”
I jot down the address and hang up before the person on the other end is deafened by my the sound of my adrenaline rush.
I jump up and down and pirouette around and giggle like a little kid.
* * *
The audition room is everything I remember from community theater – stuffy, musty, and crammed with props. Six of us are auditioning, everyone but me, I assume, seasoned actors. Scripts are passed around, and I am invited to read the part of the Nurse.
The others jump in with emphasis and emotion, and I am looking at the lines and coming up with zero inspiration. The guy to my left is actually making the director laugh with his impromptu rendition of an Australian accent. The woman next to him makes her voice all sultry and seductive turning her character into a real killer. My lines come out monotonously, flat. Maybe this is why I hesitated for so long. I clearly don’t belong here.
“Alright,” the director calls. “Scripts down. We’re going to do some improv.”
For the next ninety minutes, the director throws words, occupations, and scenarios at us demanding we conjure characters and comedy. Certain I have already blown the audition I throw myself in, sparring wits and daring to be ridiculous.
Then it is over.
“Anything else I should know about you?” the Director asks.
“I did theater in High School, and for a few years after,” I offer pathetically. “Oh, and I don’t do accents.”
“I’ll call you in a couple of weeks when auditioning is complete” the director advises us at the door.
Shamed, I drive home wondering if they would let me try again now that I know the procedure. I contemplate throwing out the card.
When the call comes, I have forgotten my night of misadventure and am immersed in my job.
“You’re in!” says the voice on the other end as if this is the continuation of an ongoing conversation.
“Friday night. We’ll need you here at 4:00 to fill out some paperwork. You’re playing Ivana BeBuff, a millionaire heiress. You can find a costume here. We’re on a 6:00.”
* * *
Six years, and nineteen characters later, I spent very few boring nights in front of the television. All because of one little phone call.
Oh, and I still don’t do accents….at least very well. But that just adds to the comedic effect.
* * *
Life is full of many wonderful surprises, if we are only willing to make the first move.