Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"One Reason I Could Never Be An Actor"

I don’t eat eggs.

I realize billions of people have no problem with eggs. I have nothing to say about that. That’s funny. A chronic ovophobe deigning not to criticize the overwhelming majority. How generous of me.

By the way, I don’t know if ovophobe is a word. But I like it.

And it fits.

When I think of eggs, the words membrane and albumin rush to mind. I’d prefer not to eat those things. I will not rant on about eggs, because I know I’m vastly outnumbered in this matter, and I don’t want to sound nuttier than is necessary. It’s just that there’s nothing about eggs I like. Not the smell. Not the taste. Not the texture – the runny yellow stuff, the stringy white strands. Just the idea of eating an unfertilized chicken…okay, I’m done.

Write it down. I don’t like eggs.

How does my ovophobia relate to why I could never be an actor? First, let me acknowledge that I have always harbored some sporadically pursued desire to become an actor. Regular readers will recall my stints at the UCLA Bertolt Brecht Summer Theater Workshop and The Actors’ Workshop in London. Someday, I will write more specifically on why my being an actor would not have been a good idea, but not today. It’s too close to my having written about why being a comedian would not have been a good idea, and I don’t people thinking of me as being negative. It’s true. I just don’t want people thinking of me that way.

When it comes to being an actor, I imagine myself playing myself, but with better lines. I think I’d be good at that. A witty spark plug, peppering the movie with humorous truisms. I imagine myself throwing in a few lines of my own, being innately familiar with the character of me.

I never became that kind of actor, or any other kind. Though I am still hopeful. Who knows? Somebody may be looking for an old, new face, which is precisely the face I happen to possess. There, you see? I’m not totally negative.

My fantasy of being an actor brings a problem with it. (This is very telling. Even my wish-fulfilling fantasies include problems.) The problem arises when, in the course of playing a role, I am asked to do things that extend beyond the natural range of playing myself. What if the script calls for me to perform an action I am inherently unable to persuasively deliver?

Like eating eggs.

Eating eggs is not that uncommon of a script requirement. How often have you heard the lines,

“How do you like your eggs?”

“I fixed you some eggs.”

“People say I make a mean omelet.”

“‘Over Easy’ okay with you?”

I see this in movies all the time. Though it could be my ovophobic sensitivity.

I know I’m a limited actor. But even if I were great – but still me – I’m certain I could never convincingly pull off an “eggs” scene. I’d hear,

“How do you like you eggs?”

and hard as I’d try, I would not be able to stop myself from making a face.

And even if I miraculously made it past “The Question”, the consumption, putting the eggs in my mouth and actually swallowing them?

Not a chance.

Inevitably, my inappropriate “eggs reaction” could not help but confuse the audience.

“What just happened there? He doesn’t like the girl?”

“No, he doesn’t like eggs.”

“The character doesn’t like eggs?”

“The actor doesn’t like eggs.”

“How do you know that?”

“I read it on his blog.”

It doesn’t have to have be on my blog. Everything’s out now. And “out” has its consequences.

How bad would it be? Imagine the effect of some famously gay actor playing in a heterosexual love scene.

“I’m kissing Julia Roberts. But I’m thinking of Jeffrey.”

“We know.”

“Eggs” would be worse than that. A persuasive gay actor, an increasingly more tolerant audience, some “Whoh!”-like sexy moves on the screen – it’s over. Your disbelief is suspended. And you’re a little jealous of Jeffrey.

Imagine, on the other hand, a night of passion for Earlo’s character, followed by a romantic breakfast.

FADE IN:

IT’S A GLORIOUS SUNDAY MORNING. BRIGHT SUNSHINE STREAMING THROUGH THE WINDOW. CHIRPING BIRDS ENLIVENING THE BREAKFAST NOOK.

MARISA BRINGS TWO STEAMING PLATES TO THE TABLE, SETTING ONE DOWN IN FRONT OF JOSH, THEN TAKING A SEAT BESIDE HIM. LOCKED IN EACH OTHERS’ GAZE, JOSH SMILINGLY RAISES HIS FORK TO HIS MOUTH, HIS FIRST TASTE OF MARISA’S IMPECCABLY PREPARED GRECIAN OMELET.

JOSH CHEWS, THEN IMMEDIATELY STARTS TO GAG, SPITTING CHUNKS OF UNDIGESTED EGG PRODUCT INTO HIS NAPKIN.

DIRECTOR: (INTENSELY WATCHING THE ACTION) That’s not in the script.

You see how that could ruin things?

There are food issues you can fake. An Orthodox Jewish actor required to eat ham, if he were high enough in the pecking order to receive special treatment, could request some counterfeit ham alternative, possibly molded brisket. That would never work in my case. You can’t fake eggs.

Maybe if I were big enough, I could have a quiet word with the director, or, even better, have it handled contractually (the non-negotiable “No Eggs” clause). Blink your eyes, and the eggs become pancakes. I like pancakes. I know pancakes have eggs in them, but you don’t actually see them. Which makes a difference. If you happen to be crazy.

Unfortunately, even in my fantasies, I am cognizant of my place in the show business hierarchy. I’m a character actor. The funny guy in the car pool. The best friend’s second best friend. Prominent enough to steal the picture. But don’t ask for anything special.

“You know that ‘brunch’ scene? Can we switch my order from Eggs Benedict to waffles?”

“Yeah, you’re fired.”

Could you actually get fired for asking for waffles? To a director who’s got a thousand things on his mind? – Oh, yeah. So there I am, having worked my butt off in ninety-nine seat theater, struggling in cheapie “independents” shot in Saskatchewan. I finally get my “break” in a meaningful production, and I’m canned for asking for waffles. Which I’ve requested, not on some temperamental whim, but because I know that what they want me to do will carry the picture in an unhappily unexpected direction. The word quickly gets around that I’m “difficult”, and I’m blackballed from the business, forced to work in cheesy infomercials, hawking cure-alls for embarrassing medical conditions on obscure cable stations at two in the morning? And all because I don’t eat eggs.

What do I need that for?

The choice was crystal clear:

Be a writer. And eat what you want.

Coming Soon: Another Reason I Could Never Be An Actor – Being Locked in the Trunk of a Car.

7 comments:

M. said...

Well, these days the internet is brimming with recipes for vegan omelets, which depend on things like tofu and/or rice flour to create the texture/taste/illusion of eggs. I'm not saying it undermines your argument, but you CAN fake eggs.

I'm not advocating for a vegan lifestyle, just an appropriate brunch lifestyle.

rms said...

Pancakes have eggs in them? Will the deception never end?

growingupartists said...

So basically what you're saying, is anyone who loves eggs can be an actor. Brilliant!

growingupartists said...

Ooh, M. I love your blog entry on myth and symbol. A truly creative spirit, indeed!

A. Buck Short said...

Sure milked this one. With wife and daughter Vegans, trust me on this, there's nothing like any substitute made from tofu to get you over any aversion to the real thing. Although of all the fake food sustances made from tofu or its equivalent, I have to admit, eggs are among the more tolerable. As a noble gesture, I have frequently used egg substitute in recipes, but not yet for an egg dish itself.

I don't even mind tofu. What I mind is toful putting on airs and pretendinjg to be something else, like fish for instance.
Incidentally, the Waffle House near my office had a juke box, and so help me, all of the offerings on the left hand side were songs with the word "waffle" in the title. I Lost my Baby at the Waffle House. I like Waffles, etc.
I'd be interested in learning if this is just a local phenomenon -- but apparently not enough to check out another Waffle House.

I see you in leading roles. Why do I think you would have killed opposite Helen Hunt in As Good as it Gets?

Joe said...

And here I thought the title of that film was Must Love Dogs.

Anonymous said...

So youar an egg-o-fobe?

heh heh

Grtz
Magiel