I was recognized by people I didn’t know three times in the last three days.
The first one was a person in my building while I was walking down the stairs, who recognized me in the form of a question, to which I sheepishly answered yes.
The second one caught up walking to me on the street with Rob, going from a Clint Eastwood Double Feature (my second in two weeks) down to Shake Shack.
I nodded, with a mumbled “yeah” and she ran to join her friends crossing the street.
The last one was just walking out my door through Soho, who this time looked at me with a smile and some clarity and said:
“You were on that Bethenny show.”
And this time I just closed my eyes and nodded quickly twice.
Neither of us stopped walking.
“Fun”-employment has caused me to contemplate my place in the world and what I should be doing with my life. I feel like I should grasping for something, like I’m in a hole looking for a ladder, or just looking for a “break”, if you know what I mean.
I’ve had a few close-calls since I left my job. A couple friendly referrals to get me in the door. A one-day gig with a Hatitan dude named Junior (“Yes, that’s my real name.” He told someone else on set). I had even been hoping to PA on a big-budget feature, something I enjoyed greatly previously. But none of these were forthcoming.
And of course, when a simple job/distraction is not forthcoming, you begin to think about the big picture and whether you’re just doing something wrong in your life.
Three weeks ago, I was having a meeting about my OtterBox commercial and how we’d pitch a campaign. Two weeks ago, I was writing my commercials ideas two days too late, which were shot down by my friends anyway and anyway that night I quit my job.
This past week, I was just trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing.
I found myself at a party in Brooklyn that Andy Roehm had invited me too, which was held by an econ student but had lots of actors at it from Tisch.
I ended up meeting an old friend of mine, a Robert Pattinson-type actor who I occasionally played magic cards with and saw at tournaments.
We talked about our lives and he told me about his struggles, how’d he taken the summer off after college, auditioned for everything, had quit his job as a dishwasher after they had refused to pay him and how he just now was looking to start his life.
“What about you man?” He asked.
“Well,” I replied.
And I listed off these list of things I had that would make me sound important to an actor: I had done a nationally televised commercial, been on Letterman, was freelancing with a well-known agency, did a Colbert web video and had a part in an off-Broadway play.
I could see my actor friend, who always looked nice but a little sad, was trying to swallow this.
But the truth was, I was trying to swallow this too. Because here I was after all of that, unemployed.
After each gig, which I had stumbled into, I had no idea how to proceed. Even now that I was freelancing, “my agent” hasn’t returned my last email and I haven’t been called. After the Dell commercial, a producer of it ran into me on the sidewalk and asked me if I was signed and I felt shocked: “Was I supposed to be?” After the web video, someone recognized me in line at the Report, but that was it. After the Letterman thing, I got a few facebook requests.
I walked around that party that night, meeting more actors and getting drunker, hearing about other freelancers that hadn’t been called, people working with casting directors, managers, agents.
Here was I, not called, my only recognizable talent now being a distinct nerdiness about food and a lack of job-interview skills.
“You know what,” one actress told me. “I think you’re thing is playing you. If there are looking for you, then they will call you right up! You will get the part.”
She snapped her fingers.
I guess it was supposed to comfort me, but something about knowing that I would need someone to need a 217-pound Apatow-type, reality-show reject for a commercial seemed to me a stretch.
My only upside came when I came upon Andy Roehm, newly shaven, spinning his so-cal charm at the ladies of the party.
“So,” I asked him, gesticulating to some cuties in the background. “Who’s the lucky lady tonight?”
“Dude,” He replied. “Eskimo Bros. no same igloo. Catch my drift.”
“No?” I asked confusedly.
“Look it up on your phone.” He told me.
Later, I saw him as I was leaving for the next party, which ended up being lame and short.
I tried to get Andy to go with me.
But he just muttered sometihng about Eskimos and firewater and squaws, maybe.
I shook my head with a smile.
Either that, or I’ve seen one too much Eastwood double-feature.
My sister ran away again and I posted something on Facebook.
“My sister is a fugitive from the New York State Justice system,” I wrote. “Please have her contact the authorities if you see her, as she is a danger to herself and others.”
I had posted this before when she had run away previously. On her wall and on mine. I figured that most people she might contact that she knew of the non-vagrant variety would see it there and at least know that they were risking some shit in talking to her.
My parents seemed really taken aback by it, the day it happened. She had quit her program and decided upon returning to the city that she wasn’t going back to jail.
“That doesn’t make sense.” My father told her. “You’re not being rational.”
But she took what stuff she could take from my parents place and left. And who knows when she’ll be back.
As usual, she has no ID, no phone, no money or wallet.
When I posted the notice on Facebook, people replied asking what was going on, while others replied telling them to shut up. I just mostly ignored the back and forth. That really wasn’t the purpose.
I felt a strange sense of vindication when it happened, actually.
It felt like my family had all been on recovery wagon, thinking she would get better. My parents would go to visit her in Riker’s over the last three months, bring her books and talk about her life outside prison.
But I was a narrative man, a reader and a writer and as both of those, I know that there are only so many stories to be told.
And some people spend their whole lives telling the same one.
When I thought about her sociopathy, I couldn’t understand the logic. If she was plotting to be free, it would have been smarter to go along with any of the shorter programs previously. If she was plotting escape, why stay in the city, why not go to Canada or wherever she could hitch.
I’m not sure she’s reasonable or sensible. She’s certainly, at best, damn ignorant of what she inflicts on my parents.
But there’s always a story to what she does, often the same one.
And as I sat that night, thinking about it, the story, I made a timeline of all the times I remembered, the crazy stories.
I went over them with Eva and she filled in a few of the gaps, though she’d only been around for so little of it.
I even emailed the timeline to my parents to correct. To figure out what was real, what happened.
I saw them later, dropping off some papers and a fifth of an ice-cream cone.
They reminded me of other stories I’d forgotten, like the 3 days she’d spent in Florence before throwing her phone out a window and getting kicked out. Or the ghost play she’d been in in Iceland, when she was accused of soliciting drugs from a minor and was deported. Or the time we’d went to meet her at the Port Authority, only to find she had sold her bus ticket for drugs and was both in the hospital and under arrest in upstate New York.
They all went on the timeline. Just so I could know.
Not so I could figure it all out, I don’t know if it could be done.
But I could see it, the same story, play out time and time again.
And if my sister was here, I bet she wouldn’t like me saying these things. When she was living at home, she told me she was hurt by my talking about her here.
But that’s the thing.
When you drop out of society, when you run, you lose the ability to tell your own story.
I guess I should remember that too.
So what do I do on a depressing night of unemployment and drama-crammed word documents?
I get ice cream.
I went to Cones and got a Waffle Cone.
Double Dark Chocolate, Fresh Whipped Cream and Two Vanilla Wafers in a two-flavor house-made Waffle Cone.
Though the guy seemed to get the waffle cones out of a tube.
Eva had some trepidation to go with me all the way to Bleecker St for only me to get ice cream.
“Yeah, I don’t know if I wanna do that.” She told me, with a self-affirming nod.
But she must have known there’d be some ice cream in it for her.
Because she came to Cones on Bleecker.
And we both lapped it up.
And as I said good by to Eva, as we licked the whipped cream off each other’s cone-fed faces, I walked down dimly-lit Barrow St, the street I grew up on.
And I guess where I haven’t stopped to this day.
“The Works” (or “The Nick Feitel Special”, if you will)- $7.75
Bleecker St between 7th Avenue and Leroy St.
1 to Christopher St. ACEBDFM to West 4th St.