“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” ~Jonathan SwiftGrateful to receive our Cast and Crew photo from my previous (and hands down, most difficult) television show thus far in my career, I found myself surprisingly unwilling to strip open the envelope from my snail mail postal carrier.
Sure I wanted to see all of the smiling happy faces of my Crew; but as I’d put my heart and soul into attempting to exceed expectations to the best of my abilities for two and a half seasons, I’d missed the last week of work – our season finale. And while I knew I was in the photograph (ooh, I plopped my ass down cross-legged in the FRONT ROW for the first time EVER to OWN my contribution to our success!), I simply couldn’t face the closure of the Stockholm Syndrome that had held me captive for so long!Sure, we might still get a pick-up for additional episodes after our cable network tests out a few pilots; or we may be done forever as even The Suits were growing vocally tiresome of our painfully tedious process towards the end...
Either way, the snail mail envelope remained unopened, as did the “fifth revised shooting script” in my computer inbox (yeah right - as if that was the end of the infernal re-writes!!!); not to mention the recorded season finale in my TiVo.OOF.
Triple visuals – but I simply wasn’t ready to look!
>>><<<Toddling out to my mail box, unlocking the 2”x2” cage and finding a singular paycheck from my glorious day on a highly rated Network show last week (monetarily puny as it was, since I worked maybe a whopping six hours), I must say, I strode like a full-blown feather-expanding peacock with all of my $82.34 check (after taxes and what-not savings) in my claw, as I re-entered my bat cave.
And as if The Universe recognized that I was properly embracing my small fortune with all due gratitude, I suddenly felt the need to cleanse the lenses of my glasses for a full appreciation of the gifts bestowed upon me – and that meant both the photo as well as the season finale of my sit-com. (I’d include the script in my inbox, but let’s face it – five minutes into the live Audience show, it had already been re-written.)Tearing open the 8x10 glossy of roughly a hundred grinning faces, I smiled in return (as human beings are wont to do upon seeing friends and comrades), before my first round of Semiosis Body Language Neurosis kicked in.
(OK, seriously, I’m not trying to sound like Susie Smarty-Pants here, as I only learned the term “Semiosis” from Wikipedia last night; defined as “any action or influence for communicating meaning by establishing relationships between signs which are to be interpreted by an audience”. I’m not a brainiac, but as my friend RJ often says, we thirst for knowledge.)But I digress!
And at first blush, there we were: all of the foot soldiers lined up in rows like ducks at a shooting gallery, smiling stupidly for the camera as every crew member does every single season on every sit-com – one shiny, happy ersatz moment trapped in time to memorialize just how jolly a television family we all appeared to be.Yet as Photographer Diane Arbus once said, “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know.” And with that, I was off on my High Horse named “Buttercup” to sniff out the truth! (OK, OK, maybe not a High Horse, as “Buttercup” tends to stay low to the ground, so let’s call him a sturdy working pony.)
Naturally, the first thing to catch my eye was my stand-in “husband” sprawled on the floor next to me – a well-meaning attempt at camaraderie on his part to point to the picture of our missing co-worker Tara on my Kindle, yet an unfortunate choice of global positioning, as my Gorgeous Actress sitting on the couch behind him immediately shouted “what the hell is this?” as she demanded he scooch down to ensure that she was visible from the top of her coiffed head down to her pedicured toes.Next to arouse the snout of “Buttercup” was the quizzical smile of one of our hard working PAs. And thinking back to the last conversation I’d had with him, he was at the time, officiously tending to the menial task of setting out scripts and pads of paper, along with a specified grouping of exactly one pencil, one black pen and one yellow highlighter per person at a Table Reading. And watching him line up all items in a neat and orderly fashion; I happened to catch his eye.
“Four years of college!” he raised his eyebrows with a small sigh.As “Buttercup” continued to root around for more truths, I realized that this could very well be an endless journey. Most every face or posture told a story. The slumped shoulders of our one of our skeleton crew members who always appears on set with the genuine unbridled enthusiasm and joy of a carefree unicorn farting rainbows (thanks for the reference, Lynnette!); the ever-so-focused Wardrobe Dominatrix who was beaming behind enormous dark sunglasses (I’ll have what she’s having!); the (I don’t know what she does, but she smells a little bit like whiskey) lady who feels the need to share every single detail of her holiday stories with me after hiatus; not to mention the most under-used comedic Latino Actor (is that a voodoo doll in his hands?); nor the Trinity of EPs who were physically connected in a creepy totalitarian triangle.
Oy vey, what was wrong with me? Why was I so fixated? Was I suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? Was my occasional OCD manifesting itself in this new Semiotic Body Language Neurosis for real?Or could it be – dare I name it – Sit-Com Post-Partum Production Depression?!?!
“Toi, toi, toi” I spat on my fingers ala my Gorgeous Actress in a Yiddish “ritual” to fend off such evil thoughts as she had done in one of our previous episodes.(Anybody see a pattern here? Hint – I’m not Jewish.)
Frankly, I needed to get out of my own head. And what better way than to sit back, relax and watch the season finale that I knew absolutely nothing about! Oh, to have a cocktail, a hearty chuckle and the warm fuzzy feeling of watching our show as Penny Q. Public, unbiased audience viewer!“Why is she crossing to that water pitcher downstage left? We never established that particular item so far downstage...” I armchair quarterback/directed the scene in my pea-brain. “And what’s up with the cut there? My Gorgeous Actress is clearly delivering that joke to the “A” camera” I poo-poohed derisively. “And what the hell is THIS meshugas, that she’s eating Ezekiel bread in the living room? The plate is hidden by the flower arrangement, but all of a sudden, she’s got a buttered slice in her hand?”
Growing a wee bit saddle-sore from my sturdy working pony (alright, alright, my High Horse!), I was just about to pat his flanks and send him off to graze, when he snorted one last time.“What’s up, Buttercup?” I wondered, rewinding my TiVo to watch the last scene for whatever I might have missed.
And there it was... I’d seen her do it a hundred times - usually at the end of an extensive interview when she was asked to pose for stills - but somehow I’d completely glossed over the obvious on television.
Perhaps I was distracted by our Cast and Crew photo and the eerie semblance at which we’d both elected to tilt our heads to the right (she was behind me, mind you!); or the fact that I wasn’t present for the final episode (hey, I got a nice fat check from her for all of my hard work last season, but “bubkes” this time around?); yet more than likely, my Semiosis Body Language Neurosis was spot on.With two masterfully practiced specific facial exercises wherein my Gorgeous Actress relaxes her forehead muscles and then poses elegantly at a well-rehearsed angle, I recognized her signature smile that could only mean one thing – she was DONE.
(Well... at least for now!)Looking forward,