Although I couldn’t verify that there were actual cloven hooves hidden inside his Converse sneakers, I could sense the horns and tail emerging from our apocalyptic Guest Director who was clearly displaying all the warning signs of a demonic possession ready to annihilate everyone in his presence.
We were on rehearsal day 3 of 5 (his symptoms baffling the majority of lay people surrounding him), when he finally reached out to me -- a humble Stand-In that he knew and worked with on a series back in 1993, who recognized and was sympathetic to his weakened disposition. And pulling me into a clandestine confession, he spoke openly from his heart:
“I quit smoking… But can I please bum a cigarette?” he pleaded, miraculously transforming into an absolute Angel minutes later in an American Spirit Mellow Menthol nicotine haze.
And rifling through his wallet ever so pleasantly on stage afterward, I blanched as my old friend handed me TEN DOLLARS for the three smokes he bummed by the end of the day.
Perhaps a deal with the Devil might prove to be most profitable!
Emerging quietly from the ladies restroom after lunch on a camera-blocking day (4 of 5), I was startled by a handful of my crew members eager to please and appease our agitated Director, who had apparently been calling out my name.
And wrangling me back on stage like I was a heretic who had disdainfully abandoned the Church of Saint Sit-Com, I was presented as an offering, a gift to be sacrificed by my crew, the likelihood of my dismemberment almost imminent by the throngs of dedicated masses determined to avoid any personal persecution.
“Here she is!” a co-worker burst out excitedly, aggressively shoving me towards the temporarily vitriolic Guest Czar.
“Let’s take a walk” the Director wrapped an affectionate arm over my shoulder, heading toward an isolated corner of the stage wherein he could surreptitiously pocket a much-needed PFST (Post Feeding Smokey Treat). “Thanks Pen” he whispered, borrowing my lighter and amiably kissing the top of my head.
“Go ahead and take two!” I suggested cheerfully (hoping to thwart any such further witch-hunts by my co-workers).
“Sooo…” a crew member (whose pay scale is approximately ten times higher than mine) eyed me skeptically on day 5 of 5. “You two seem to have a rather intimate working relationship” he continued, sizing me up as the Stand-In Whore of Babylon who had privately consorted once more in the corner with our reigning monarch Director.
“Oh. That we do,” I nodded ‘beatifically’; accepting my fated role-of-the-week as a misunderstood patron saint of the arts, punished by malicious criticism behind my back, misjudged mistakenly for supposedly inappropriate behavior, and most certainly next in line to be crucified by those who were not yet enlightened enough to appreciate my humble sacrificial good deeds on behalf of all mankind (um, on our stage, anyway).
“But just so you know…” I offered a small revelation, leaning in close enough for my accuser to share my shroud of a hoodie sweatshirt; “our Director is a closet smoker and a helluva nice guy if you just give him a cigarette” I whispered, walking away, gleefully knowing that my pure-of-heart reputation would be restored within a few gossipy minutes.
And observing our Fearless Leader after lunch laughing in the camaraderie of fellow crew members all enjoying PFSTs, I smiled ‘beatifically’ once again, knowing that my sacrifices for the crew were worth the benefits that they would receive on a hectic show night in front of a live studio audience.
And with that, my angelic deal with the Devil was done.
While I could verify that there were no cloven hooves to be seen, (she wasn’t wearing Converse sneakers), the tail was already evident and the devilish horns couldn’t be far behind. The symptoms of demonic possession were already emanating and there was little for me to do but try to appease the conflict within her. And lowering my gaze in yet another humble act of submission, I could feel the burning glare searing through my forehead…
“Milk?” I offered; a mere servant in the hierarchy of good vs. evil.
“NOOOWWW!” my feline sidekick (a five pound bully) demanded, yelling in my ear and authoritatively shepherding me down the hallway to the kitchen for a lactic hit of the great white nectar.
Still waiting to be canonized,
~ “Saint P”