My work is making me totally crazy. On Monday night, I was so stressed out that after I washed my face I had to give myself a pep talk in the mirror with “You’re very pretty. You’re going to be okay,” which made me laugh hard enough to calm down.
A big part of why my day job makes me such a lunatic (and apparently a narcissist) is that I have always thought that I’d be a working actress my whole life. In keeping with my spoiled white girl syndrome, I am continually shocked that I haven’t gotten my way in that life plan.
When I was eleven I auditioned for my community theatre’s production of The King and I. I remember prayerfully waiting for the cast list; it was my first musical and I wanted to be a part of it so badly. I had sung “Tomorrow” for my audition, hoping they had room for me as one of the King’s children.
I got my wish better than I could have imagined: I got cast as a wife. No tunic and hammer pants for me. I got not one, but two sexy costumes. I had cool bracelets and got to wear tons of body make-up (this was a time before spray tans, regrettably) and fierce false eyelashes. I looked so pretty, like a tan Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver.*
The person who liked my look the most was my mom, who still talks about when we were in The King and I. My mother could not be further from Mama Rose, but she was awfully present during that production. She took me to a workshop beforehand and helped me get coaching. She bought enough pancake make-up and mortician’s wax to last a drag queen a lifetime. She attended every performance.
Today, my mama wishes I would put aside my acting aspirations as sparkly memories and apply myself to something with a clearer path and more assured success. I’m sure it’s frustrating to break through all the glass ceilings yourself only to have your daughter use the side doors. As my dreams adjust to the realities of life, she is starting to get it. I forgive her for the struggle whenever I think of how supportive and proud she was during The King and I.
*Incidentally, the guy who played the King, Dale, was 40 and while very nice, was noticeably uncomfortable pretending the eleven year old dressed up like Cartman from the Maury episode of South Park was his wife. Dale was officially not creepy.