On Wednesday afternoon, I made my way over to an audition, arriving around 4:15 for a 4:40 appointment. (Don’t ask me how it went! Okay, ask me! It was fantastic! Until I lost my high B! Where did it go? I have no idea! But it temporarily vanished! Amazing!) This particular casting office casts projects across the board, often holding auditions in their building for musical theatre, commercials and film on the same day. As I stepped off the elevator, I was greeted by the sight of ten thousand children running around the waiting room as ten thousand stage mothers talked on their cellphones. Apparently, someone needed some kids for a Marshall’s commercial.
After changing and putting some makeup on, I eased myself into a chair against the wall and concentrated on inhaling the steam that was lazily rising out of my tea container. I was halfheartedly organizing my music when a tiny little girl materialized in front of me. She sized me up and down and perched herself on the couch across from me. Without saying a word, she leaned back on the couch and kicked her legs up over her head in an impressive attempt at a gymnastics routine. Her legs were splayed open as she scissored them back and forth and abruptly came back to a seated position.
Her eyes stayed on me, trying to figure out what I thought of her maneuvers. She raised her eyebrows knowingly and then opened her mouth to speak.
“Good thing I’m wearing a skort.”
“I’m wearing a skort. It’s shorts UNDER a skirt, that’s how come I can move my legs around.”
It occurred to me that this first grader was already quite familiar with the concept of modesty, already had a bit of self-awareness of the inappropriateness of doing gymnastics in a dress, had probably already been reprimanded (on more than one occasion?) to close her legs and for goodness sakes to sit like a lady. But, little girls are still little kids and tend to forget manners like that and I could see her mother rejoicing at the skort, on the sale rack at Kohl’s in the Children’s Department–dainty looking for commercial auditions but with the added bonus of practicality!
I made an obvious announcement.
“I am not wearing a skort today.”
“Yeah,” said the girl, who was also wearing a button down white shirt, rolled up to her elbows, with a purple sweater vest on top of it, white socks, folded over once and mauve Mary Janes in a suspicious fabric, velvet?
“When I get home,” she continued, “I’m going to take THIS off,” (purple sweater vest) “and roll THESE down” (button down white shirt sleeves).
“Oh,” I concurred, “Who made you roll the sleeves up in the first place.”
She didn’t give a verbal response but instead clocked her head to the side and pointed a finger down the hall, obviously indicating her mother. If she was a teenager, there would’ve been a huge eye roll and a smacking of Bubblicious Watermelon Wave gum. Her adolescent mannerisms alarmed me.
“How old are you? Seven?”
“Six and a HALF.”
“Oh. I like your vest.”
“I have to wear it because I stained my white button down shirt and now I have to use the sweater vest to cover up the stain but when I get home, I am totally taking it off.”
“You don’t like sweater vests?”
“This is my career girl outfit.“
“Your career girl outfit? That’s the part you’re going in for?”
“You have…other outfits you wear to auditions?”
“Like what? Like, party girl outfit?”
“Like, you know, birthday party girl outfits? Or maybe exotic beautiful lovechild of a couple on Days of Our Lives outfit? Maybe, kidnapped first grader for Law & Order: SVU outfit? Do you have THOSE kinds of outfits?”
“I’m SAG and AFTRA.”
“Well. I think so, I mean, I’m definitely union.”
Never one to step back from a challenge, I fired back immediately.
“Are you Equity?” I asked her, my voice dripping with superiority. It was the same question (and tone of voice) I was asked once at a Halloween party gone bad and after I gave my answer, which at the time was a feeble “no”, the High Inquisitor scoffed and walked away, finding nothing else of interest to say to me, and I slugged my way over to the punch bowl, where I remained for the next hour and a half.
“I’m not sure,” said she. “I always get them confused.”
“But, I do voice-overs, commercials AND print.”
“Maybe you’ll be in this commercial with me! You could be my fake mom!”
Now I was offended.
“Do I look old enough to be your mom?”
“Well…how old are you?”
“Twenty four…AND A HALF!” I stated proudly, suddenly becoming ashamed that not only was I trying to one up a first grader, that she was totally beating me in all arenas, particularly career.
“Well. My mom’s thirty eight.”
“That’s awesome. Um. Where…is she?”
“There,” she pointed down the hall, “long black hair on her cellphone?”
I tried to get the mother’s attention, thinking she might be wondering if her daughter was okay or in any danger, chatting up a total stranger who could have pedophilic tendencies, who could have gotten pretty excited and then disappointed by the whole legs over the head gymnastics routine since it was done in a skort and therefore, rather tastefully. Her mom gave a slight nod of the head like “Yes, isn’t she precious? I know.” And The Girl kept talking.
“My mom won a beauty pageant in the Philippines.”
“No! When she was young.”
“Ohh. I bet she talks about that a lot.”
“Was it her crowning glory?”
“My dad’s thirty eight too. It was his birthday yesterday.”
“Oh. Did you throw him a party?”
“Yeah! I made confetti.”
“Isn’t confetti such a mess? I always regret having confetti when the party’s over. Well, usually confetti and drinking that last cocktail.”
“No, I THINK IT’S FUN!”
I sighed, a little tired.
“Yeah, I guess so. I mean, what’s a party without confetti and a seventh whiskey sour right?”
“Nothing. So, what’s your name?”
“I hope you’re my fake mom.”
“Well, Juliana, we aren’t auditioning for the same project today, so that seems rather unlikely.”
“Oh! Well. I got a haircut two days ago.”
“Yeah? I really need one too, my split ends are wreaking havoc on my personal hygiene.”
“Yeah,” said Juliana absently.
And then they called her name. And skort and all, she skipped away, her Know It All attitude and air of natural popularity trailing behind her like toilet paper stuck in a shoe. I could see exactly how her life was going to pan out, gorgeous-looking, sure of herself, being taken out of school to star in a discount merchandise retail store commercial. She was six and a half going on Homecoming Queen “I Have A College Fund Thanks To The Commercials I Did When I Was Six” High School Junior. And oh man, thinking back to all our high school experiences, who didn’t love that girl!?