All the most interesting exchanges in my life right now seem to happen at auditions.
(And for those of you wondering if I got the Viagra singing gig, the answer is no. And to be honest, I’m puzzled; the singers I hear in the commercial sing rather well – and surely that wasn’t the direction the producers intended to go… or was it?! Crap. Déjà vu flop sweat all over again…)
So I’m waiting to go in – this is a spot that requires a male and female and we’re matched up to read together… I get one of the cute stars of the Canada/Russia Hockey movie (rowrr!) – and as I circumspectly listen in on various conversations going on around me, another male voice walks in.
“Bob,” squeaks some chick sitting to my right, reaching up to snag him with a powerful mitt and dragging him down before planting a noisy smooch on his cheek. (All names changed not to protect the innocent, but because I don’t remember them.) “You didn’t call me last Wednesday…” She pouts fetchingly, still gripping him vice-like by the elbow.
“No,” he replies, “I didn’t.”
And that, fellow amateur sociologists, was that.
No further discussion took place.
I could hardly believe it – where were the excuses? The explanations? The broken ankles, dying relatives, accidental blows to the head? I didn’t know whether to cheer or throw rotten fruit. Where was the socially expected – nay, demanded – dishonest response to an obvious, embarrassing question?
Answer: nowhere. This guy apparently doesn’t do bullshit.
The rest of us (those who apparently still do) were shocked into silence for a few moments, though soon relieved (were we ever) by the producer inviting the non-caller in to read. The non-called woman remained in the outer office with us, talking to another auditioner a little too quickly, clearly acutely embarrassed by Mr. ‘No, I didn’t’; laughing a little too loud and a little too long at a comment about the change in the weather.
Soon enough the negative guy came out and I and my hockey-playing thespian partner went in. Whatever Act II was destined to bring, we weren’t fated to be part of it.
(Which one was it from the CBC conclusion-airing-tonight movie? Well, I’ll give you a hint: the one with the bad 70’s-style wig. Not helping?)
We didn’t need a lot of takes – the two spots (for barbecue sauce) were fairly simple: classic dopey man/long-suffering woman sarcastic exchanges – and hockey boy and I were out of the booth in two shakes.
(Which barbecue sauce was it? I’ll give you a hint: the one with the woman’s name. Not helping?)
To our mutual surprise, Dr. No was still in the waiting area, but Ms Pout had disappeared. Bathroom break? Humbled stumble away from the production company? The mystery continues to this day, unabated.
As the next two clichéd characters were called in, I, Canada ‘72 and the man with neither guile nor apparent need of prevarication left together, walking to the elevators as we hitched on coats and slipped on gloves. (The weather actually hadn’t changed that much yet. Hence, no humour.)
“So what was that about?” asked my ‘classic dopey man’. “Did you forget to call?”
“Was this a date situation,” I threw in, “or a friend-thing?” I wanted to know the extent of the crime.
“Well,” the accused replied, “I met her in a bar downtown and we hung out together and…” (He might just as well have inserted ‘yadda yadda yadda’) “I just didn’t call.”
“Wow,” said the TV movie star.
“And the legend begins,” said I with just a soupcon of sarcasm, getting off the elevator and scooting toward the door ahead of the guys, who were hanging back to talk.
I didn’t want to get into it any further; didn’t want to hear if he was going to boast or explain apologetically, didn’t want to know if he was as pleased with himself as I suspect most of the guys in the audition ante-room were with his solution to morning after (week later) interrogation.
I had just experienced a combination Seinfeld/Sex and the City/He’s Just Not That Into You moment and I needed at least another moment to catch my breath, pause and reflect.
I’m torn. There’s a part of me that gets his action (not calling) but rejects his delivery (point blank, no explanation in a room full of people) whilst simultaneously trying to gauge how I felt about her action (asking a question she really wanted an answer to) balanced against her delivery (point blank, no build up, in a room full of people).
Two crimes at cross purposes.
But much as I’m confused at how I feel about the communication, whether I like what I heard, how it was transmitted, received or overheard, I have no doubt what the non-message means and what it implies.
There is a simplicity of communication that is almost beautiful in its pared-down straightforwardness. He came, he saw, he didn’t call – and you can bet he isn't planning to in the future.
In a world filled with obfuscation, miscommunication and downright, bald-faced lies, the guy who says no and means it is a kind of role model.
We daily hear leaders make promises, commitments and pledges they have no intention of keeping; some rabbit on about ethics, then given a chance, do exactly the same (Stronach/Emerson – Martin/Harper … pot/kettle) whilst others impassively watch the murder of innocents in a war entered into on verifiable falsehood.
The most recent horror in the ongoing Iraq war horrors (besides the horror that calls for impeachment are still so faint and whispery) is the revelation in the filing by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the CIA leak case last week, reporting that Scooter Libby, assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney was given direct instructions by the President to leak information to reporters, bolstering the case for war – even as the information in question (that Saddam Hussein was building up stocks of uranium) was being denigrated by senior White House defence advisors including the then Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Following hard on the heels of the heretofore unreleased bombshell memo that revealed the President had told British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the lead up to the war that he was going to go ahead, UN Inspector’s verification reports or no, the Libby admission just piles on the facts, as the lies pile ever skyward.
The political equivalent of broken ankles, dying relatives and homework-snarfing dogs.
Where is the screaming, crying, garment-rending and pitchforks and torches parade on Washington? Where is even the slightest recognition on the part of the President or the administration that fairytales were told to sleepy citizens, some of whom remain, even now, comatose to the truth?
Oh for the elegant clarity of “no.”
No, there is no connection between 9/11 and Saddam Husseim.
No, there are no WMDs.
No, America is not going to war with Iraq.
And now, more than ever, we hope to hear: no, America is not going to war with Iran.
“No, I didn’t.”
Oh yes he did.
Meanwhile, neither I nor my mysterious TV movie voice partner have received a call back on the barbecue sauce commercial.
And I know what it means.
In a world full of ambiguity, it may not be pleasant, but it's helpful.