Friday, February 15, 2008

Story of a Writer - Part Three B

Before I continue my saga, I have to pause for this story. It’s a story where I’m bold, and I don’t have many of those. This may, in fact, be my only one. Forgive me. But you can’t leave out your only “bold” story.

Bold.

That felt good.

When I ended “Story of a Writer – Part Three”, I said I was on my way to Hollywood. That wasn’t exactly true. It’s also not true that I was totally enthusiastic about my departure. I was actually terrified. With my time in Toronto running down, I desperately searched for an excuse to stay safely at home. I met with the president of Canadian network radio, and begged him to give me a reason not to go. His answer? “You’ve done everything you can here. Take off, eh?” That wasn’t the answer I was looking for. Telling me it was time for me to go was meant to be an encouragement. To me, it felt like an eviction notice.

With no hope of a last-minute reprieve, I said goodbye to friends and family, and headed for the airport.

Where I was bold.

Okay, here we go.

A friend drove me to the airport. When I got there, I checked my bag and headed for the Immigration Area. The Lily Tomlin Show – the show I was going to Los Angeles to work on – had told me they had gotten me an H-1 temporary work permit, so I could enter the States legally as a worker. This wasn’t totally necessary. The job was only scheduled to last four weeks, and you can enter the States as a tourist for six months. I could easily have told the Immigration Official that I was going to the States for a vacation, finished the job, and returned home. Except I couldn’t. Why?

Because I’m a Good Boy.

Good Boys don’t lie. Being a Good Boy required me to tell the Immigration Official I was traveling to the States not for a holiday but for work. It’s not that enjoyable being a Good Boy. We live in a Bad Boy-worshipping culture. The Outlaw. The Rascal. The scalawag. We love Bad Boys so much we have a multiple names for them.

You never see the woman of men’s fantasies fix a guy with a smoldering look and in a soft and sexy voice purr, “C’mere, Good Boy.” It just doesn’t happen.

There are no obvious rewards for being a Good Boy. Heaven? Not worth the wait.

But what are you going to do, it’s how I am. I tell the Immigration Official I’m going to California for a job, and that the show had taken care of the paperwork, and my name should be on his list. The Immigration Official scans his list, looking for my name.

It isn’t there.

This was serious. If my name wasn’t on the Immigration Official’s list, I wouldn’t be able to enter the country to do the job. I’d have to go home. I don’t mean back to Canada, I was still there. I’d have to go back to my apartment.

I started to sweat. I don’t do well around authority figures. Especially authority figures wearing guns. Good Boys feel generically guilty. The first time I had Jury Duty, I was certain they’d say, “As long as you’re here, Mr. Pomerantz, we’d like to try you for something.”

But this time, it was different. That Immigration Official was standing between me and my future. I had to do something. I had to be

Bold.

I asked the Immigration Official for the phone number of the Department of Immigration in Los Angeles. He gave me the number. I think I scared him a little.

I raced to a nearby bank of pay phones (this was before cell phones), and I called Los Angeles. When they answered, I told them my story. A work authorization was supposed to be waiting for me at the Toronto airport and it wasn’t there. I heard my voice; it was steelily firm. I wanted that permit!

The L.A. Immigration Official told me to call the airport Immigration Official to the phone. At that moment, I didn’t even consider how burly the Immigration Official was. I just had my friend hold the receiver, and raced back to “Immigration.”

“You have to come with me,” I insisted. If I weren’t in Panic Mode, I would have loved how I sounded.

The Immigration Official followed me to the phone, took the receiver and talked to the Immigration Officials in L.A. After what felt like forever, the Immigration Official took out a pack of “Export A” cigarettes from his shirt pocket, and jotted some numbers down on the cardboard box. He hung up the phone.

And then he said, “Okay.”

The Immigration Official passed me through to America. I was now on my way to Hollywood.

Not so fast.

The airline had overbooked the flight. There was no room for me on the plane.

What’s going on, I started to think, my boldness entirely spent. Is there somebody who doesn’t want me to go?

Finally, they found me a seat. The First Class section had a crescent-shaped bar area in front of it. They said I could sit there.

During the flight, passengers came to the bar for a drink, and they ran into me. One passenger was an actor I recognized from TV. His name was John Saxon. We struck up a conversation. I told him about my job, mentioning - I was now back to my usual amount of boldness - that when my four weeks of employment were over, I’d probably be flying back to Canada. John Saxon didn’t agree.

“You’re going to be all right, “ he assured me.

Okay, then. I had a temporary work permit, I had a job waiting, and I had an enthusiastic vote of confidence from John Saxon.

Now I was on my way to Hollywood.

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Story of a Writer – Part Four? My First Hollywood Job





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I got a new thing. If you wanna talk to me directly, instead of commenting, my smart daughter, Anna, made me a new e-mail address. It's talktoearl@gmail.com. By the way, her blog, which has pictures, is annawizard.blogspot.com.

3 comments:

Max Clarke said...

Good post.

Reminds me of my move to California. When I left Nebraska in 1990, I had enough money for the drive and not much else. If it didn't fit in the car, it didn't make the trip. No job offer brought me out here, either, and the only people I knew were a few Bay Area residents I had met during a trip to India. I was meditating a lot back in Nebraska, and kept having dreams or visions of California and the Bay Area. When I look back, my move was also bold, but completely necessary.

It's like the Joseph Campbell line from his tv series, The Power of Myth. When you take those bold steps, you will encounter "invisible means of support" that were always there, just waiting to be discovered.

Corinne said...

I'm greatly enjoying your blog. I have always loved a good story and you're a great storyteller.

emily said...

Earl, why don't you and Ken Levine team up on a how-to book for writers? It would be great.

Love your blog! Fabulous stories!