Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Treading Water

Not much happening in this actor's life, as summer drags on. I'm not working at the moment, and it seems like everyone else is. But I'm not bitter. Not a bit.

I've had some dental drama, which should make for riveting reading. As I write this, my mouth has that swollen-lip feeling you get from the Novocaine, but God bless Novocaine. My dentist, though, I'm not so sure about. I've been going to him for years, but a month ago, out of the blue, he started to sound like the mechanic at the Honda dealership. You know, when you take the car in for an oil change, and he says, "Well, we could just change the oil, but what you really need is a full front-end alignment." My dentist echoed that routine with, "Well, we could just do a regular cleaning, but what you really need is a full scaling." I get nervous when medical professionals start to Suggestive Sell.

The verb "to scale," to me, means to climb something. But in the dental world, they use the verb as fishmongers do, as in, to scrape the scales off the fish. So, I spent several hours this summer suffering through the grotesque process of having gunk scraped off my teeth, a treatment so intense they use drills and crowbars. My dentist claims it will prevent peritonitis and other even ickier maladies which might be coming down the pike. But I think he just wanted to make a buck.

I made a quick trip to New York last week, to attend an audition. I used to make such trips much more often, but I've become either too savvy or too lazy to make the schlep every time I see an appropriate part up for grabs. But this one was a bit different; when a LORT theatre beckons, if you're a regional theatre actor, you go.

I was able to turn the trip into a mini-vacation, staying Thursday night with my sister in South Salem, a small commuter town about an hour north of the city. We enjoyed a home cooked meal together, and Friday morning, I drove down to Manhattan to snag my next gig. The show was Hamlet, and the role was "Polonius." I've had my eye on that verbose advisor since I played him in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead earlier this season; that production at North Carolina Stage Company whet my whistle to play the guy full-length. I had four sides prepared, and the director gave me my choice of which to read. I passed on the big monologue with all the maxims ("neither a borrower nor a lender be...", "To thine own self be true," etc) and instead did a comic scene with the royals. Several laughs later, I was sure I had nailed the audition and could see a callback in my immediate future.

Sadly, the best news of the trip was my parking spot.

Who knows what that theatre in Vermont was looking for, but it was not me. But I did swing into town at that special time when Manhattan's alternate side of the street parking restrictions were flipping to the other side. This is the crazy moment in the city's life (happens four times a week, actually), when parking is prohibited on one side of the street or the other, for streetsweeping purposes. So, everybody in town who owns a car scrambles up and down the streets, trying to snag new spots before anybody else does. I caught a break and slid into a spot with no meter, and was so happy, I considered leaving the car there for the next four days, just because I could.

After the disappointing reaction to my stellar reading, I hopped back in the car and raced onto the New Jersey Turnpike, hoping to get out of town just ahead of the Friday afternoon rush hour. I would have made it, too, if the monsoon hadn't hit. I've never driven through such rain, coming down in those heavy sheets which are impossible to see through. So, to top off my big day, my 4-hour drive from NY to DC took 6.

I hope this does not turn out to be the highlight of the summer.