(NaBloPoMo for Nov. 10, 2013)
I have been fortunate to participate in community theatre here in town… I’ve done over 40 shows in one capacity or another, so I have the experiences of being on stage and of auditioning – and I like it … but ultimately, and as a child of the 60s, I wonder how I would have fit into TV shows over the years… I know, let’s see what happens….
Here’s the fifties…. and I am about 7 years old. Look over there! Hey, it’s The Cleaver house, where Wally is known to give the business to the Beaver almost every day. We watch the boys go to school, and by golly, there I am, cast as one of the kids in Beaver’s classroom, where Miss Landers sits at her desk – so pretty and so nice. I pretty much just get to sit in the desk – I have no lines, but I do get to react on camera when Beaver knocks his spelling book on the floor, embarrassing him in front of the girl with pigtails.
And perhaps if I could have been an adult like I am now and did a show in the sixties, I might just be on Perry Mason – and this time, I’d get a line or two, which would be (as they said in the 50s) “just keen”. I can hear the line right now… ”Yes, Your Honor. We the Jury find Wilbert Marx NOT GUILTY”. With any luck, I’d get to turn to Mr.Mason and nod with a knowing look.
And so then, the sixties …. I was in my early teens then, so clearly I would find myself cast on THE MONKEES. Again, no lines. I’m the guy in the absolutely unnecessarily doofy fashion wear – plaid pants and a paisley shirt– and I am at a MONKEES concert in which I’m on camera for a whole 1.33 seconds, waving madly. By the way, the fashion statement was one that I would have made for myself in real life. I figured I might admit this before my sisters called me on it.
Going back to the sixties as an adult would find me in a similar role as I did as an adult in the fifties…. But instead of being a jury foreman, I’d be an eyewitness for Sergeants Friday and Gannon on Dragnet, just giving them the facts; “I heard a strange sound, you know, nothing all that unusual, but you react to anyway? The man had broken the glass on the counter. He stuck his hand into the case and removed a handful of watches into his pocket and ran out the door. That’s all I saw, officer.” They would thank me and walk off, having written my poetic phrases in their little spiral notebooks. With any luck, I get to swing the hammer at the end of the show for the MARK VII PRODUCTIONS logo…
And now we get into the seventies, and I’m in my twenties – a young adult now, so bring on M*A*S*H*. (And yes, the asterisks are necessary….). I play an ordinary soldier, so I am on screen for only a short time, as I walk a tray full of surgical tools through the ER to have them sterilized in the autoclave by nurse Kelly. Hey, it’s a living….
And then to go back as the adult I am now — hmmmm… the seventies…. Which means I have a small part on Charlie’s Angels as an elevator operator – or maybe as a farm implement dealer on Dallas….. or worse, I get to be a victim on The A Team, where I am shot down at the beginning of the show, where the last words I hear come from Mr. T, who utters his famous “I pity the fool!”
The eighties? I am at my best as a thirty year old patron and borderline friend of that gang at Cheers. My big moment? I get to shake my head when that old guy makes a lewd comment after Carla Tortelli gets off a good zinger as Diane…. And to go back as I am now, I’m more than likely populating a gurney, totally obfuscated (I always wanted to use that word) by a sheet on an episode of Chicago Hope… .and I don’t even get to meet Denzel Washington or Howie Mandell.
Almost the end of the century now – and I’m at a party, watching the Crane brothers (Frazier and Niles, as if I had to tell you….) argue over the vintage of a certain wine. The fun part? They spill it on me. I even get a credit at the end of the show as ‘man with wine spill’. My appearance as I am now comes on one of the many LAW AND ORDER shows – doesn’t matter which one at all – in which I get to play a middle manager at a bank that gets robbed by guy played by a member of the cast of RENT who wants to make some extra money. My line – “Please, and take it with you.”
And finally as the century changes, I’m almost myself. As the fifty year old man I was back then, about ten years ago, I play a superintendent of the apartment building where Marshall, Lilly, Ted and Robin live… and I get to shoo off Barney with a broom as he tries to hit on my ‘daughter’ as played by a young actress just appearing on the scene… Scarlett Johansen….
And to conclude, I fantasize myself as I am now – and I’m actually am the same person I was when I was twelve….. I’m looking through the DC Comics on BIG BANG THEORY, wishing I could fly with Wonder Woman on her invisible aircraft. Ain’t imagination grand?