Friday, March 15, 2013

"I Saw Kids In A Commercial And I Immediately Became Competitive"

Be honest with me.  I can take it.  And even if I can’t, be honest with me anyway. 

I mean it.  I will not hold it against you.  And even if I do, be honest with me anyway.

(I’m stalling here.  Because I’m afraid you might actually be honest with me.)

Okay, here it is.  And be honest with me.  Even if it breaks my heart, and demolishes my dreams.

Here’s the question:

Do you think when you’re sixty-eight, that it’s too late to become a child actor?

Be honest with me. 

I see these kids in commercials, and I say to myself, maybe even out loud – and I do not believe I am lying to myself – “I can do that!”  Which then gets me thinking, “Maybe I should go for it.” 

I mean, why not take a shot at it?  Why not try out for roles that are currently being performed by children?

Because you’re sixty-eight.

So what?  I should give up my dream?  I don’t think so.  Surrender to a discriminatory stereotype?  No way!  “Sorry, Jackie Robinson.  The Major Leagues are for white ballplayers only!  No.  Jackie Robinson knew he could compete with white ballplayers.  Ditto, me versus little children.

I realize this late start is inevitably my fault.  I was myself once a kid – I have pictures of me on a pony to prove it – but, except for camp, where I was up there doing stuff, I never tried to be a child performer. 

Part of that was Canada, where children are encouraged – often with behavior-modifying swats – not to show off.  (Though more frequently by deliberately being ignored when they’re being precocious.)  That’s why there are no Canadian kids in Canadian commercials.  What they do is they sneak in American kids, teach them to say “abowt”, and dress them in Canadian-looking attire.  (Generally, one fashion cycle behind.)

Okay, so I didn’t make my move at the appropriate time.  Am I to penalized for that for the rest of my life?  “You weren’t a child actor when you were a child, so you can’t be one ever”?  I mean, come on now.  How fair is that!

It’s true I was born in a country where innovation is rare – okay, there was penicillin, but that was an accident.  But after almost forty years away, my Canadian reticence has worn off.  I am not holding back. 

I am ready to be a child actor. 

And I’m in the perfect place to do it. America is the country of long shots.  Against all odds, Americans blasted through the Rockies and built the Transcontinental Railroad.  That took vision.  It took guts.  It took the imagination to understand that just because something looks impossible did not mean it is.  (It also took thievery, duplicity and chicanery, but nobody says you have to to copy everything Americans do.  Just the good stuff.)

Don’t tell me a nation that can put a man on the moon can not envision a late bloomer playing roles regularly performed by children.  I will not believe that about this country!

If that “Doogie Howser” openly gay guy can play a horndog in How I Met Your Mother, I can damn well play a kid in a commercial!

You say I’ll look ridiculous wearing kids’ clothes – shorts, a t-shirt and sneakers.  Are you kidding me?  That’s what I wear now! 

And I look great in them!

With the right attitude, there is no obstacle too great to stop an old man from playing a kid in a commercial.  First Step:  Find an agent who believes in me, a person who understands that if you’ve been adorable longer, you will “do adorable” better, a person who is unafraid to think “outside the box”, and most importantly, a person willing to be a groundbreaking crusader, to stand with me against intolerance, until – no matter how long the struggle – the day arrives when an unwillingness to cast a man in his late sixties as a credible Third Grader is a joyously distant memory.  

That’s the kind of world I want to live in, and I am confident we can attain.  A world where nobody… no matter how old…will be too… old … to play… a……….

You know what?  I can feel myself running out of steam.  My enthusiasm’s dropping  “Oo-oo-oo-oo” – like the red line in the thermometer.  I was there for a little while.  I felt that energetic surge.  I momentarily envisioned the mountaintop, and now down I go, crashing back to earth.

Me?  Playing a part meant for an eight-year old?  Must have been “Brain Fever.”  Which has apparently moved on.  Overcome by a deficit of will, and the single word:


Followed closely by


And the stinging admonition: 

“Grow up, will ya?” 

I guess there’s still some “Canadian” left in me.  Americans are superior at fooling themselves, and thereby accomplishing amazing things (while wiping out the Indians.)  Canadians, for the most part, are simply too cold to dream.

I know it’s silly.  But I watch those commercials where the school kids are asked, “What’s better?  Fast or slow?”

And I sigh.

Wait!  I can switch to a beer commercial with athletes in it.

Yeah, that’s better.

I never thought I could be an athlete!
March 20th is my daughter Anna's 30th birthday.  The following day, March the 21st is Dr. M's and my 31st anniversary.  To celebrate both simchas, Anna and her hubbie Colby, and Dr. M and her  hubby Earlo are traveling to Paris.

I have left stuff for you to read, and will hopefully have stuff to write about when I get back  We are visiting the Normandy beaches, and attending a communal French seder.  I imagine something will come up.

Until my return, au revoir.  And an early Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all.

Question:  Is it time to let go of the fact that Dreyfus was innocent?


Mac said...

What you have to think about is that a lot of child stars, twenty-odd years after their fame, go off the rails. So you don't want to be getting into your 90's and going crazy with drugs and hookers. Or maybe that's exactly what you want to be doing in your 90's? So I dunno....

Have fun in France. Bon voyage!

Canda said...

Just wait 12 years, Earl, when you're 80, and you can act as childlike, precocious, and obnoxious as most of the old people they put in commercials, acting "not their age", and having people laugh at what you say (but more laughing at you).

Kids and old people in commercials should be banned.

Au revoir.

Manti Ectiof said...

You can probably be on Betty White's new prank show...
Dreyfus - innocent. But Chief Inspector Dreyfus - guilty!
Enjoy your trip, bring us all some toast, please!

Frank said...

Bon voyage eh!