One deep breath. Then another. Then another. One more. Okay, this wasn’t working.
I had been standing in front of the hotel bathroom mirror for a what felt like a good hour or so. As she ran around and did random things in the bedroom, my wife would yell “Are you okay?” every few minutes as I uttered a progressively faint “yep” each time. But the truth was that I was far from okay. I was nervous. More nervous than I had been in a long time.
The reason: I was on my way to meet my favorite professional actress.
I stood in front of that mirror with a tie halfway on and wrapped around my neck because my arms were shaking uncontrollably. That, and I forgot how to tie the stupid thing. I would lean forward every few seconds and curse at every single blemish and imperfection that existed on my face. I had to be just the ugliest man in the entire universe. That damn grey hair that had been on the right side of my head for the last five years just gave me the blues. I wanted to take my clippers and just shave all my hair off.
Ah, that’s it. “Hey, honey,” I shouted. “Can you bring me my clippers?”
“What for?” she asked. “You’re not gonna threaten to shave your hair off again, are you?”
Damn her. I returned back to the mirror and took about fifty more deep breaths, each one bringing me closer and closer to passing out, but unfortunately, never taking me there. I had actually been waiting a long time to meet this woman, who had quickly become my favorite actress over the last few years or so.
But this wasn’t just a random meeting or an autograph session. I wasn’t going some place to meet her for mere seconds as she scribbled her name on a photograph after I stood behind fifty people for an hour. No, this was sort of an informal job interview.
See, I am a screenwriter. Some time ago, I wrote a script based on an idea this actress threw out there, likely as a joke. But since I had almost finished one project and was ready to take on another, I thought I would give her idea a shot. Upon finishing, I was able to meet with a literary manager, who ironically worked occasionally very close to where she did and actually did see her every once in a while.
As I stood there and brushed my hair a hundred different ways to try and cover that grey hair up as it mocked me, I thought about why I was so nervous. As a writer, I never before imagined meeting any professional actor or actress. Not at that point. Whenever I talked about screenwriting to my friends, they would quickly ask, “So who’s gonna play this/that part?” I honestly never cared to think that far into it. I just thought it was a bad habit to get into. I get to focusing on the actor or actress who I’d like to play whatever role and the next thing I know, I lose focus on the project. I also figured I hadn’t earned the right to do that yet.
However, since I got this idea directly from this actress, I thought it would be okay to take that leap and focus on her, along with her co-star from the show she was currently on. Oh yeah…about that show. This actress wasn’t someone who was barely on screen or spoke one insignificant line every few episodes. Not someone who operated the boom mic. Not the girl who buys coffee and donuts for everyone in the morning. She wasn’t person who put the tape down in random spots on the different floors all over the set. Not the one who held up cue cards. No…she was the star of the show. The freaking star. When the show begins, the first name that came up, under “Starring” was hers. Good Lord. Many times, I thought, How stupid can I be to think this will ever happen?
A few days before was that fateful day my manager called me to let me know. My phone rang and I looked to see that it was him. My initial thought was, “What do you want?!” because honestly, I wasn’t having the best day. My back was bothering me as I was doing some work around the house and I was just annoyed at practically everything.
I answered and he said, “Are you sitting down?”
I thought, Oh just get to the point. I said, “Yeah, I’m sitting.” I wasn’t.
He then said, “She said she’d like to meet…”
I raised my eyebrows. My day slightly improved. “Oh, well, that’s…great! Wonderful! I mean…nice. Wow. So, uh…when did she said she and her agent would sit down with you?”
He said, “Oh no, you don’t understand. She said she’d like to meet YOU.”
“Hello?” he said. “Robert? Robert, are you there?”
I sat down. On the floor. In the bathroom. On those frigid tiles. No idea how I ended up in there. I figured, Naahhh. I heard him wrong. There’s no way he said what I thought he said. No way this actress finally agreed to meet with me. “Robert?” He said again, and then laughed. “I take it you heard me. So, when can you come up?”
So, back to my staring into the mirror. I knew a few days before that I would be driving from out of state, 12 hours away, but I told my manager that if I even thought the chance to meet her about my script would ever exist, I would literally be in the car and on the road within minutes. Of course, I didn’t need to actually be there that quickly since she was busy on the day he called and a few days after that, but we had finally reached the day I was leaving to meet her and by then, after the trip, I was about a ten-minute drive away.
My wife came into the bathroom and looked up at me. She reached up to help me with my tie. “Tighter,” I would say. “Tighter…keep going…not tight enough…”
“Will you stop?” she said, with a chuckle. “There. You’re fine.”
I closed my eyes and took another deep breath. “Is this really about to happen now?”
“Yep,” she said, with that endearing smile I fell in love with 17 years before. “You’re about to meet her. You look very handsome. I am so proud of you. You’ll be just fine.”
“Well, don’t keep her waiting,” my wife said, as she shoved me out of the bathroom and to the front door. “She will be impressed with your script. You’ll see.”
“I hope so.” I stood at the door and froze. Before I had a chance to think, my wife swung around me to open the door. Gee, thanks. She gave me a gentle shove and said, “Go. She’ll probably be there soon.”
I left the hotel.
I arrived at the restaurant. I was a bit surprised that she wanted to meet there, because I had always thought that upon ever meeting her, our meeting would be in some stuffy conference room somewhere and I’d have her attention for a good two minutes, if I was lucky. But meeting at a restaurant told me that would not be the case. Hell, I didn’t even remember what they served there; as if I was able to eat.
I pulled into the parking lot and right away and I saw a black SUV. She’s here, I thought to myself. After I parked, I sat there for a few minutes, just in case she was just getting there. I didn’t want to be walking in at the same time as her because I wasn’t sure how I would handle that. I didn’t want to accidentally bump into her outside.
Then I saw a large man walk from behind the SUV and just stand at the door. It didn’t appear that she was still outside, so I thought, Oh, she’s in there already. Well I need to go on in.
I took a deep breath. Then another. Then another. One more time. Damn it; not working.
I remembered that I brushed my teeth no less than twelve times at the hotel. Still drunk from the Listerine, I got out, grabbed the bouquet of flowers I bought for her and made my way toward the restaurant entrance.
By the time I got there, I started to get a bit of a headache. I didn’t know if it was because of nervousness or a fluoride overdose, but I knew I couldn’t wait any longer, especially since my favorite actress was now in that restaurant and there because of me.
When I made it inside, I heard the classical music right away. Being a fan, it did help a little. The place wasn’t huge, but it was relatively full. I kept my head still and just scanned the restaurant until I saw my manager.
Now, I don’t know what got into him, but he decided that he would start waving his arms and flag me down as if he was landing a plane. I just looked at him as if he had lost his damn mind. I frowned and shook my head discreetly as if to say, If you don’t stop waving your arms…
That’s when I noticed who was sitting in front of him. I recognized from behind that strawberry blonde hair that went just past her shoulders. He was sitting right in front of this beautiful, wonderful actress I had admired for a good while and had been waiting a long time to meet. I couldn’t believe I was there and finally about to do so.
As my manager continued with his aggressive hand and arm signals, I noticed that it caught her attention. She looked up from whatever she was doing as she began to turn to face my direction. I spun around quickly at stared at the hostess.
“Well hello,” the hostess said. “How are you this evening?”
I took a deep breath and shook my head.
“That good, huh? First date?”
“Not really a date. Well, my first time meeting her.”
“Ah. Is she here?”
I turned to face the actress and I nodded. The hostess continued, “Oh! She’s in here all the time. Well hopefully you do get a chance to talk to her. She often comes here and talks business, so you know..I wouldn’t push anything too much.”
I looked at the hostess, leaned in and said, “I am the business she’s here for.”
“Oh!” the hostess remarked, and then she chuckled. “And you’re here with flowers and you look so nervous. Aww…that is so cute!”
Oh, shut up.
I took another deep breath and hell, that time I almost did pass out. “Is she still looking this way?” I asked the hostess.
“Oh no, she’s turned back around. Well, what are you waiting for? Go on over there!”
I nodded and smiled at the hostess. I turned and slowly made my way to where my favorite actress was sitting. I really took my time, because the last thing I wanted to do was to startle her from behind. Not that my manager and his borderline spazzing out wouldn’t have done so already.
As I walked over, I thought about everything over the past year or so. There I was, an aspiring screenwriter about to meet my favorite actress and talk about a script. I was so thrilled, but terrified at the same time. There I was, an Army soldier who had deployed to a combat zone three separate times and I was standing there, more nervous than I had been since my daughter was born. But even the thought of doing something I loved, while being able to work with my favorite actress at the same time, well…that was honestly better than any dream I could have ever come up with.
When I reached her, my manager stood up and said, “Here he is.” The actress gave a half turn to cut her eyes in my direction and then she stood up.
She turned around and looked me in the eyes. I handed her the flowers and said, “Hi. I, um…I hope it is okay to give you these.”
She slowly proceeded to give me the most angelic smile I had ever seen her give anyone. She tilted her head a little to one side, she raised her eyebrows and said…
Thanks for reading. 😉
In the words of Janet Jackson…THAT’S THE END?