This episode is dedicated to my Tap Teacher, Susie Ewing, an Original Dean Martin Golddigger, who gives me things to do with my feet, so I don’t go around kicking people.
Ok, I just re-read the email and I’m not sure why it threw me, but it did. Maybe it was because I had just gotten out of the Little House From Hell and the email reminded me of my Landlady – and not in a good way. Maybe because, as an actor, I am accustomed to taking direction, almost from anyone but most often from people in a position to direct actors. Like this man, Killian.
So I’m going to share it with you and you can tell me what you think. Or not. It really doesn’t matter to me.
Here’s how it started:
MUST READ & REPLY ASAP.
I check my emails twice a day. Once when I get up around 5am and then again around 5pm. I just don’t get a lot of emails that need rapid responses. If anyone really needs to get hold of me, they call, or text. So when I saw this around 5pm, I got nervous.
WAS I TOO LATE???? Would I be kicked out of class even before I began? If I did, would I get my money back? What if I had to tell my Wizard, Scott Sedita, that I didn’t respond in time and now I was blacklisted from EVERY commercial class in Los Angeles!
With great speed, I opened the email and read this.
Suddenly, I forgot that I knew how to drive and how to read. And how to cross the street.
What madness was this? I am a New Yorker. From New York. I grew up reading street signs before I read “Dick and Jane“. And the MOSTLY part. What did that mean? Every other house had restricted parking? Every third house? Should I leave an hour earlier than I had planned to give me time to read these signs? I suddenly forgot my North from South. Should I bring a compass? Look for the evening star?
And crossing at a light. I mean ONLY do so at a corner with a light? Where might that be? One block away from the school? Two blocks away? A dozen? In NY, there were lights on every corner. And if we wanted to cross in the middle of the block, so against the song we were taught as children, on our own heads be it. In NY, they also do not brake for pedestrians – even if you are in the cross walk with the light with you. But this was no simple suggestion. This was a COMMAND.
ONLY DO SO!!!
I started to get an idea why my acting peers were so afraid of this man.
We hadn’t even gotten into his class and he was telling us what to do and how to do it.
And by us, I mean me. A 60-year-old woman, who had just managed to move a car, a household, 3 dogs and a horse across the FREAKING country. And back again in less than a year. A woman who had moved into a tiny trailer and then into a little house and then into a nice home in Burbank in less than 4 months.
And now this man was telling me how to cross the street.
And not to park with the valet of a restaurant. In BOLD CAPS.
I started to hyperventilate, and was seriously considering:
- Not going to class at all.
- Driving to Scott Sedita’s Acting Studio and grabbing his chair and his two white fluffy dogs and holding them hostage until he paid me the money I spent on this class.
But instead, I poured a glass of wine and continued to read:
Ok, the clothes thing was helpful. I had never seen myself on camera and the thought of modeling audition clothes appealed to me. And notes… well, I kinda had enough of that in college. I can honestly say that if I can’t remember what is being said, then it wasn’t important enough to remember.
So I was feeling pretty good. I mentally started going through my closet to see what I might wear.
The Respectful part and the Professional part of the email just sounded silly. It’s not as if I was going to bring my tap shoes in and start practicing the 5 step riff I had just learned the week before at my Tap School. (To be honest, I did practice some of the trickier steps while I was memorizing my sides, but I always wore sneakers.)
And then there was this:
What on earth was a Supply of Water?
How much water was enough water? What would we be doing that would require a supply of water? I usually carried one of those little plastic bottles of water I would buy from the Dollar Store or Walmart or in a pinch, the Gas Station.
I had no idea how much water was in that bottle.
Or if it would be enough.
Enough for the time it took me to read all the parking signs, north and south of Melrose? Enough for the time it took for me to walk to a corner with a light? Enough for me to ignore the entreaties of the Valets at the Restaurant I was not going to eat at? Enough to walk in the building with a sense of respect and professionalism?
Enough to get through class?
What if those nice Med-Westerny people who were supposed to teach me, weren’t that nice at all? What if they were going to make us do weird physical things in class to prove we were committed to our craft as Professional Commercial Actors? (it turns out, they did)
And a Non-Glass Container.
In all my hours spent in the Dollar Store, or Walmart or the Gas Station, it never occurred to me to find water in a glass bottle.
I’m not sure they even make them, except for Pellegrino, which, because I am Italian, is always in my refrigerator. But I was not about to bring a bottle of Pellegrino to an Acting Class – because it’s aqua gassata – and could cause ruttare.
Not something you want happening in a love scene.
Unless it’s a comedy.
I poured another glass of wine and contemplated the Restricted Area.
This was going to be difficult for me. Very difficult. Very, Very difficult.
Because as you, and Scott Sedita, must know by now, the only signs that have any effect on me whatsoever is “Stop” and “Hot Set”.
“Restricted” is one of those signs that are open to interpretation.
And if food is involved, I can tell you right now, I’m not going to pay any attention to it.
I just sort of hoped that there would be enough of the right kind of food to offset the cost of the class after I was undoubtably asked to leave. Like Caviar. I like Caviar.
We often run over.
Now he tells me.
After he has taken my money. All $285 dollars of it.
Why couldn’t he have said that in the class description?
My horse waits for me at 2:30 at the fence every day. I give him a treat as I drive in. I park and walk him from the pasture across the arena to his stall. It is our time. I groom him, which he tolerates or we go for a short ride, which he tolerates. He expects to see me and unless I tell him I’ll be late, I never want to disappoint him.
I cannot call him. I cannot text him.
I know that he will be waiting there, his head hanging over the fence. I know he will be waiting for the sound of my car. I know he will be waiting for as long as it takes for me to show up. It is a 30 minute ride from Melrose to my horse’s ranch. Not including the amount of time it would take me to get from the school to where ever I parked my car. If it hadn’t been towed. Or stolen by those Parking Valets out of spite.
I don’t want that image in my head as we ran over time in class.
And then there was Door Thing.
This man Killian, with the backwards shoes, would LOCK THE DOOR at 12:10.
I’m pretty sure I have told you, and if you don’t remember maybe you should also start taking notes, but I am never late for anything, ever. As a matter of fact, I am usually always 10 minutes early, which, for me, is on time.
It’s a Theater thing.
Once when I was late – the only time I was late for a rehearsal – I was made to apologize individually to each member of the company for being late. And then apologize to the entire company for making them later while I was apologizing to them individually for being late in the first place.
I was 14.
And did not drive. You can conclude what you like from that.
But the lesson, however harsh sounding, stuck.
I have never been late for anything again.
I panicked as I imagined myself desperately trying to find NORTH from SOUTH on Melrose. Checking to make sure I had a precise Supply of Water. Making sure the bottle would NOT BREAK INTO TINY SHARDS. Reading Restricted and Semi-Restricted Parking Signs. Finding a Corner that Had A Light. Ignoring the financial pleas of desperate but not necessarily legal Valet Attendants. Repeating to myself that Restricted meant the same thing as Hot Set. (“Not really”, the voice in my head answered.) PLANNING AHEAD FOR TRAFFIC!!!
How do you DO THAT????
Traffic is fluid, if not fluctuating on a moment to moment basis.
All it takes is one second to change everything. One second. Maybe even less.
My travel time, according to Google Maps, was 34 minutes. Any accident would cost me maybe another 30 minutes to an hour. A flat might cost me 60 minutes. A high-speed chase might cost me 2 hours.
Don’t laugh. In LA we have more high-speed chases than flat tires.
So, since I didn’t wanted to be standing outside 6107 Melrose Ave at 12:11 pm, sobbing and banging on the doors while the Parking Valets at the Restaurant on the Corner pointed at me with laughter, I thought about leaving for class around 9am.
That would give me about 3 hours, barring any earthquakes, to get to class before the doors were locked, my mortification complete and my fledgling career over before it had begun.
I sighed with relief at my travel plans and continued reading.
This was highlighted on the email, so I knew it was important to read. Extra Important.
It seemed simple enough. And just in case I wasn’t sure how simple it was, the email told me how simple it was. Just hit the reply button on the email. I knew how to do that.
And that’s when it hit me.
The man, this man Killian, thought I was simple.
As a matter of fact, it seemed to me that he thought all actors were simple.
Perhaps even his nice, mid-westerny, Actors/Teachers/Serial Killers.
Why else would he compose this 2 page email to send out to all his students, who had somehow managed to come up with $285 dollars to attend a class (without his instruction), who had figured out how to get to his website to begin with (also without his instruction), navigate it (ditto), find a class (ditto), pay for the class (ditto, ditto) and ostensibly get on with the life they were living, if he didn’t think they were incapable of getting to that class unless he instructed them how to do it – every step of the way.
Ok, to be fair, maybe this man called Killian had some catastrophic experiences in the past to have caused him to compose such an email.
Maybe one of his students had once misread a parking sign.
Maybe a student had once used the Valet Service with unfortunate results.
Maybe a student became a little dehydrated in class.
Maybe a student had once brought in something more than a granola bar.
And maybe a student had something else more important to do at 2:01 pm.
The point is, and I realized this after having to breath into a paper bag to stop hyperventilating, I know how to do all of the things required by Killian, not because I am an actor, nor because I have also been well-educated, but simply because I am an adult.
And because I am an adult, this last and final part of the email made me laugh.
After writing a 2 page email, stipulating every detail of the journey you would need to know to drive to his class, park for his class, walk to his class, and every behavior compulsory to attend this class; with BOLD CAPS and UNDERLINES and HIGHLIGHTS and ASTERISKS and DOUBLE AND TRIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS, it ends with a simple “u”. See u soon.
So I hit “reply”, typed “k” and hit “send”.
I let out a sigh of relief and began breathing normally again.
I don’t think this man called Killian is as scary as people seem to think. I think he’s just a little crazy. Maybe as crazy as my ex-Landlady at The Little House From Hell, who was also a teacher (and had two Masters, if you recall). Maybe a little crazier, I don’t really know and I didn’t really care.
I was going to that class and I was going to have as much fun as I could possibly have and learn as much as I possibly could at the same time.
And then I was going to figure out how to kidnap Scott Sedita’s dogs.
DON’T GO AWAY, WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK AFTER A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR!