Friday, May 19, 2006

The show must go on

Here I sit in my apartment drinking Diet Pepsi and running lines at my couch. My couch never judges me, which is nice, but it also seldom chuckles at my jokes. I am shockingly anxious. My head feels dull from last night's Ambien. You see, tonight is the opening night of my play with Studio A.C.T. and I am one of the leads.

For two months myself and a cast of 9 other actors have been rehearsing at a seedy, boxy studio in San Francisco's Tenderloin district (motto: your money or your life). And now with all that behind us, tonight is the night. The show is sold out, standing room only, all 117 seats with butts reserved for them. People from every facet of my life will be there. Coworkers, fellow actors, family. My orthodontist just left me a message saying "don't forget your appointment with us at 4PM on Monday. Oh and did you know your show tonight is sold out?! We couldn't get tickets!"

Acting is a juggling. You must keep all these balls going in the air without blinking: your lines, your body position, your face, maybe a cello or fist full of spoons, all to make the illusion complete. And it looks so easy because you've rehearsed it 50 or 60 times. But every time it comes out different. And you wonder. How will it come out tonight? Maybe the audience will laugh and then you give them room to laugh, but ultimately you ignore them. Which is a lot harder when they are NOT laughing because then your head fills with doom and gloom and suddenly you drop the spoons and miss your cue and you've blown it.

I did something this week I've never done before and do not wish to do again: purchase cosmetics. I ask a 30-something woman in my office how I should proceed and get a 20 minute lecture about the pros and cons of Covergirl. Ultimately I decide this is a subject I do not need to know deeply about, so I solve the problem by throwing money at it.

It is my lunch hour and I spend it sitting quietly wincing in the Macy's chair while the MAC girl dabs a combination product on my cheeks and forehead and my girlfriend oooh's from the sidelines. I look in the mirror and see absolutely zero difference. Except now I feel incredibly imperfect and sympathize with little girls who grew up with Teen Vogue telling them ever-so-subtly that their natural face just isn't good enough, their eyes not popping enough.

I return to the office fearful the techies will notice the circles under my eyes have all but vanished. They don't notice.

But the secretary does.