Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pick Me, Pick Me!

One of the only things I remember from my days as an aspiring actor is this idea that in every human interaction, everyone involved is trying to get something from someone else. The lesson we were coached in was to try and figure out what the character you were playing wanted from the other people in the scene; that way, you would have some kind of intrinsic motivation which would enable you play your part with authenticity and verve, positioning you well for what all actors inevitably want: a chance to direct (or so I’m told.)

Anyway, whether this principle is really true in all human exchanges is probably debatable; I can’t see Mother Theresa, for example, as being so calculating as she administered to the starving children of Calcutta, but there’s certainly an element of truth to it and sometimes, like this morning, as I rode around town on my Sunday errands, it seemed particularly apropos, as at every turn (and straightaway for that matter), it seemed as if another person or organization was reaching out towards me, trying to get me to buy from or give something to them, if not both.

It started with the guy spare-changing me outside the QFC, then the woman who wanted me to buy her last newspaper, followed by the kid who tried to sell me a probably stolen DVD of some Jackie Chan film; but then, it just began to seem like everything, from the advertisements on the side of the bus, to the “Prices Reduced” signs in the grocery store windows, to the “For Sale” notice on a parked car, to posters for upcoming shows stapled to telephone poles, handbills for dance parties lying in the gutter, a guy ranting into his hands-free cellphone making me think he was a nut talking to himself, all of it, all of them just reaching out at me, the “helots” as Walter Brennan called them in Meet John Doe, yikes!


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