Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Don't Speak", Quoth the Actor

Having inserted quarters three times over in a desperate attempt to score an icy cold can of “diet cola” (that highly resembled a trademarked Diet Coke) from a vending machine on the back lot at a film studio on one of my first days of work in Hollywood, I wasn’t about to back off my attempts at retrieving said caffeinated beverage, despite the barely inaudible giggling of a rather crusty Hollywood old-timer covered in paint who seemed ridiculously amused by my misfortune.
“You DO know that that’s just a prop machine, young lady” he wheezed, snuffing out his cigarette on the sole of his heavily treaded boot. 

“Yes of course!” I nodded with all due manner of tut-tutting and proper wrist-denials of ‘pshaws’.  (I may have been fresh-from-the-turnip-truck na├»ve, but I was well-armed with a plethora of extraordinarily arcane vernacular such as “pshaw” loaded for bear!)
“Why, who could possibly be that gullible?” I queried palms-up to the painter as I sucked in my chin stupidly whilst bobbling my head overly-dramatically (secretly searching for an ounce of dignity apparently abandoned on the turnip truck). 

“I mean, duh?!” I think were the last extraordinarily erudite words that tumbled unceremoniously out of my mouth.

Four and a half years of higher education in the USA and abroad, and all I could come up with was “duh”.


“But, but, but, “words”  have always been my “go to”” I explained Spock-logically decades later to a friend of mine who sat ever so patiently waiting for me to temporarily shut the f**k up.
“Back in the day” I rambled on like a finger-wagging point-making elderly geezer sans the paint on my clothes, “I bonded with my very first Stage Manager who would shout out my name haphazardly at any given moment, only to compare our answers in the daily crossword puzzles!” I presented my puny plaint quite judiciously.

“Um-hum” my quiet listener replied respectfully, rising up in a rally to meet my eye, yet sinking back into her chair as I blathered on relentlessly.

“Why, on one sit-com in particular a decade and a half ago, I was blessed with the extraordinary power to call out to an actual  Executive Producer for queries, who, by the way, had an actual personal assistant race up to the offices for internet access should the EP and I be baffled by a ‘variation’ of an arcane answer!”

“I’m sure you did, prior to everyone having a smart phone” my friend tolerantly placated me.
“And did I mention too, that not only do my fellow multitudes of Crew members still solve crossword puzzles today?” I continued self-righteously.  “We share a fiercely tacit understanding as to the complexities of deciphering cruciverbalist constructions, wherein there lies a palpable accomplishment of personal achievement without said digital cheating” I perfunctorily, professionally and rather petulantly buttoned my ‘etui’.

“Anything else?”  I heard a snort; naturally assuming I was in the beloved presence of one of my High Horses (although somewhat taken aback that one of my spectacular ponies suddenly spoke English.)

But as my High Horses tend toward maintaining an aura of strength and silence (albeit the occasional whinny) when randomly appearing to arrive to my rescue, I snapped out of my self-indulgent pity-party to listen patiently to the advice of the acquaintance to my left who had obsequiously taken my hands as a measure of comfort from a confidante.
“Penny, I love you, but I’m just going to say the thing you need to hear, and then you can hate me if you want to.  You’re a freaking open book.  You tell people everything, and like it or not, people don’t really like that.”

Wait, whaaat?
“Everybody has their extraordinarily well-protected dirty little secrets in this town, and you just parade yours around shamelessly like it’s a freakin’ badge of honor.  And I gotta say, your blatant openness may make others feel, well, how should I put it, extremely uncomfortable.”

And so, once again, this “One Red Cent Trying to Make Sense” was plummeted onto a crossroads, sans warning of the possibility of an actual train wreck.

Now, having my relatively unknown deep, darkened personal space on a Google blog location somewhere in the depths of the Internet netherworld, I’ve always embraced this sacred place where I could share thoughts, secrets and true personal honesty. 
Like every other humanoid toddling about the planet I’m FAR from perfect, and quite frankly, I’ve become enthralled by the camaraderie of absolute strangers visiting this page, who maybe too, just suffered a totally crappy day and out of the kindness of their hearts will send me an email from all over the world.

Ergo, if I’m capable of bringing at least a smile to one of you somewhere in The Universe, then by all means, I’m going to fight for my voice here!  
However, as to my friend’s advice?  Yes, for a solid month, I chose to shut the f**k up.  (Not particularly an easy task for a blabberer like myself!)


“Can you open your mouth any wider?” Mimi, the Hygienist scrunched her forehead as I attempted to spindly weasel my way toward the exit and out of the dental chair.  (What can I say?  It’s an extraordinary gift that I inherited from my Dad’s side of the family.)  “I can’t take the x-rays if you’re going to keep squirming, my dear!” she offered patiently.  “Can you just gently bite down here?” she asked pleasantly as I lost grip of the instrument of the mechanical apparatus gauging my gums whilst Mimi trotted over to the computer.  “Okay then!” she chimed happily to the Dentist, whom after one full hour, could only provide 13 of 18 successful x-rays.
“Let’s have a look then, shall we?” he smiled before pulling up his obligatory mask.  “Good hygiene, your gums are fine, no cavities, your teeth are strong, bonding of veneers looks okay too, but you do have some serious staining on the top right tooth” he nodded, creepy hook-shaped metal gizmo in hand .  “You DO need a deep-cleaning.  You’re plaque is 6 millimeters deep, and that’s a threat to periodontihominahah which entails obligatory “scaling” and “planing” of the deep root tissue to prevent the loss of blah, blah, blah, periodentihominaha...”

(I mentally processed absolutely nothing after eyeballing the crooked tool shank...)

“And just where do you think you’re going?”  he asked gently as I once again attempted a desperate eel-like exit strategy half way down the chair.
(Yes, yes, yes, I’m a bad patient.  Sue me.)

“So, here’s the list of everything the Dentist suggested” the Office Manager delineated my statement, reviewing my charts and providing me with the financial responsibility of my Insurance carrier vis-a-vis my actual checkbook.

“As I’m officially unemployed over the holidays, can we NOT buy the Cadillac before Christmas?” I asked, negotiating my way into nothing more than the somewhat terrifying but necessary “scaling”.  (Insert visual of catching actual fish off the pier at our lake house where I grew up.  Blechh!)

“Yes of course!” the Office Manager beamed.  “Just initial here, and here, and here, and here and here.  The last one is the nitrous oxide” he winked sublimely.  “And by the way, there’s a ten percent discount if you pay in advance.”
Well slap my ass, give me happy gas and call me Sally!

I suppose that hard-learned lessons are a day-to-day experience.

1.  I’ve only had one quadrant of my teeth deep-cleaned, with my next visit to the dental practice appropriated to the entire left side; scheduled to endure  a two hour period of relentless scraping.
2.  “Happy gas” is well worth the investment if you’re a spindly expert escapee like me who can slide out of any medical chair, but they DO gauge the breather bag thingy; and properly “pshaw” you if you don’t breathe entirely through your nose.  (I was soooo half out of that room before they caught me!)

3.  Should you choose the nitrous oxide and topical numbing agent, be sure to run a finger over your teeth four hours later after you think that you have successfully gnawed your dinner.  I myself was surprised to dislodge an entire meal of kale salad with butternut squash and sliced almonds, as well as a hearty portion of potatoes au gratin that I thought I had adequately chewed. 
Additional note:  whilst kale salad may be extraordinarily beneficial health-wise, it’s just plain creepy if it’s visibly dangling from a frontal incisor.


I was still quite intent at repeatedly, professionally, keeping my mouth shut aside from extraordinarily performing to the best of my ability at work.  With only two weeks left of guaranteed employment, I understood far too well the importance of sharing my deepest, darkest secrets with only true friends. 
(Again, this was a difficult lesson for a blogger, as words generally allow us to vent!)
Unfortunately, no one bothered to mention this to my moderately menopausal carcass, which quite literally has begun to speak for itself...

Sure, my newfound activities involved some surprising unpleasant bodily functions – the most surprising to me being that should my allergies kick in with a random sneeze, so too does my ass abruptly choose to fart in agreement.

Where I once could have won an Olympic gold medal for hard-core sleeping, I now find myself in an ongoing war of night sweats, a constant battle of forever feeling cold, yet blasting my air conditioning around 4am lest I give in and change my t-shirt for the third time as I’ve become an award-winning sweaty puddle, emanating fantastic odors of my dinner the evening prior.  ("Had some garlic last night, did ya, Pen?") (But I showered!!)

And despite laying wide awake at any given hour listening to an infomercial recommending an actual nightgown for equally sweaty ladies, I logged on to the poot, credit card at the ready, only to be assured that the website didn’t actually exist.
But Heaven forbid we should discuss such things!

The more I think about everything, the more I feel the need to regain my Voice.  And so, despite some uncomfortable bullying in my tiny niche of the netherworld, I’m choosing to officially take back this page on the internet.  As I stated, I'm far from perfect, but by all means, I’ll keep writing here so long as you ever-so patient visitors allow me to do so, and I cannot possibly thank you enough for your kindness.


“You needn’t report tomorrow, but you must call again after 5pm yet before Midnight’ the automated server informed me before clicking into a dismissive dial tone.
And this is precisely why I love The Universe and Its unfathomable Sense of Humor.

Yes, kind readers, for this entire week that shall encompass Christmas and my Birthday, I’m on call for Jury Duty!!!  (And before you need to ask, yes, I've stashed a crossword puzzle in my purse!)

~Wishing you Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas, Juror P