Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Day in the Life: Security Clearance

I've returned to DC after an all-too-brief sojourn in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and will be here until the holidays set in for real.

I registered to attend a SAG-sponsored workshop regarding security clearances. DC is a big town for industrial training films, many of which require their actors to have such clearances. Sadly, it's very difficult to get one, and often takes years. Most actors who have a security clearance got it only because they work (or worked) full time in a government job which required one. It was interesting to hear about the process, though there seems little likelihood I would ever get a clearance myself, considering my extensive criminal background.

I've been stealing shows for years. Ba-da-bum.

The moderator was a highly qualified attorney who had also worked as an investigator for the department of defense, and she had lots of tidbits to tell. While I enjoyed her seminar, I was reminded why I never attend these workshops (SAG offers them all the time, on all sorts of topics).

I cannot stand the type of people who attend these things. Without fail, there is at least one jackass in the crowd(today there was more than one) who wants everyone in the room to listen to him and, in the guise of asking a question (usually a stupid one), tells the story of his life. I remember this kind of fool from the several times I took traffic school in L.A.; there again, there was always some guy who loved the sound of his voice and was sure everyone else would, too. Drives me right up the wall.

After the seminar, I felt I deserved a reward for not throwing something at this blowhard, so I hopped the metro to Maryland, and landed at The Cheesecake Factory. They have the best fire-roasted artichoke on the planet, which goes down well with a glass (or two) of savignon blanc. I steam artichokes at home regularly, but have never been able to figure out how to fire-roast one. (At the Cheesecake Factory, you actually get an artichoke and a half, so it's worth the money.)

I indulge in this luxury maybe every month or so, always sitting in the bar area, so as not to take up a better table in the restaurant proper. I was a waiter too long to hog a table in someone's station by myself, when that waiter could instead make more money on a party of four. Anyway, as I was revelling in this artichokial delight, I noticed three women come into the bar. They were not together; they arrived separately and sat separately. They were older women with gray hair and weathered faces, and as the bartender knew which glass of wine to pour for each, they were clearly regulars there. As I was alone, I was able to observe these ladies for a while. One read a book, one watched the television, and one simply sat and sipped.

There is something very sad about an older woman sitting alone in a bar in the middle of the afternoon. For some reason a man sitting alone in a bar does not look at all odd, but I cannot get used to seeing women doing the same thing. What have they done with the rest of their day? What do they do until it's time to come into the bar and drink?

So, so sad, don't you think? Of course, there is absolutely nothing sad about ME being in a bar alone in the middle of the afternoon. Right?