Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Part of Me Will be Played By...

Hello Friends.

You know how sometimes a specialty cable channel doesn't really have a specialty? Like TVTropolis, what exactly is their game? They don't seem to be catering to a specific demographic or have much original programming. Their slogan ought to be something like, "A bunch of shows for watching." The Americans have PeachTree, which I think is Tyler Perry shows, Judge Judy, and those commercials where the black guy tells us to get up off the couch and pursue a career in medical office assistance.

The thing these channels do, the way the get viewers and make money, is to buy a bunch of syndicated programming, like old sitcoms that are no longer being made but at one time were watched by everybody. That's how Doc and I occasionally find ourselves revisiting Roseanne. Sometimes you don't have plans for a Saturday afternoon and find yourself deeply embroiled in four hours of Roseanne. Say what you will about the varying quality of that show (later seasons are unwatchable), some of that early stuff is solid.

I bring this all up because Roseanne is one of the more modern examples of sitcom recasting. Midway through the run of the show, Becky, the eldest daughter, is suddenly played by a different actress. I'm sure this had to do with the availability of the first actress or something. Unlike other instances of recasting, the first Becky then came back. Wouldn't that be great to do in your own life?

Dream: Be temporarily recast.

Goal: Sadly, unachievable. As my boyfriend often reminds me when I drop the roast on the floor in front of his boss, smile impishly and say, "That went well!", life is not a television show. But I've had kind of a shitty week so far and it's put me into a funk. I hate being in a bad mood, but the fact that I hate it so much makes it harder to escape. My bad moods are nothing serious, I've never experienced true depression, I couldn't compare, but the sensation is akin to using my non-dominant hand, or constantly feeling the tag on the back of my shirt. It's awkward and uncomfortable and I could use a few episodes off. In perfect world, they ought to do as they did with Becky Connor: bring in a prettier, more agreeable version of me until I'm ready to return. In the meantime, I will graciously step in to the lives of others.

Plan: Predicated on the premise that recasting is a zero sum game, if someone steps in to play me for awhile, I must take on another role. I think I'd like to fill in for the following people.

Katy Perry. Don't even front, haterz. Can you imagine her life for a day? Her last record was so successful that she could literally put out anything and people would buy it. She doesn't have to be married to that lanky whiner Russell Brand anymore, and have you seen that Vogue spread? Even if it's Photoshopped to hell, having a picture like this out there in the world has to be a bit of a boost. Goddamn. That skin, am I right? I could sport that epidermis for awhile.

A middle manager. I used to work in office and we had these meetings with a middle manager (let's call him Blarv), whose official function was to communicate the goals up upper management to us, the peons. But Blarv knew nothing about what the higher-ups did, and nothing about what we did, so kept both sides pacified with platitudes like, "Believe it to achieve it!" and "Let's get over the hump this quarter!" I'm sure he had duties beyond vague motivational sessions, but I don't know what they were. My favourite thing about Blarv's non-meetings would that he would open them with a non-story. He would say things like, "So I wanted to barbecue this weekend but it rained all Saturday, but then it cleared up, so then I got the food ready, but then it rained again, so I guess that's that, then!" And we'd all laugh like goddamn morons and he'd look so pleased! Like he was clever! One time, and this is absolutely true, he told a story about someone moving some of their furniture into his house and he said, "Now my living room looks like this!" and he held up his Blackberry. In a boardroom. Filled with at least fifteen people. I can't explain why this is funny except to say that no one was close enough to see the TINY image on his TINY phone. It is the power trip of middle-management, the hubris of someone not talented enough to make things, not smart enough to run things, that results in a boring man holding a small screen in his fat hands while a dozen people laugh the laugh of the underlings. I'd love to experience that kind of arbitrary authority for awhile.

The lady in the lobby. There's this big blob of a woman in my building who stations herself either in the front foyer or on the bench just outside, and it's her job to yell the world at us. She's stocky, she wears Coke bottle glasses, cargo shorts, a stained tank, and no bra. Her breasts are so saggy and pendulous, she could tuck them into her cargo shorts like a long necktie. Oh, and also, she's shaved her head recently. If I describe her ungenerously, it is because she is very unkind. She barks bulletins at any of us unsuspecting fools dumb enough to leave the building. "It's fuckin' cloudy out there, you're not gonna be fuckin' warm enough!" she'll bark, or, "There's a fuckin' car out there idling and I don't know what the fuck it's doing there but it's a real pain in my ass! Is that your fuckin' car? Look at that fuckin' car!" She'll moan about the Chinese people in the parking lot, or the Middle Eastern security guard, and it's never good to play the race card, especially when you represent white people as sweaty, foul-mouthed globules of hate. But for all about her that is terrible, she really, truly, doesn't give a fuck. I wonder what it would be like to greet the day, the morning sun shining on my bald head, ready to mouth off to any and everyone, hitching my cargo shorts up enough to cover my nips.

Gorgeous George. Gorgeous George (not his real name but maybe it could be) works out at the same place I read magazines and nurse a water bottle. His body is a great advertisement for the gym but more impressive is his magnanimity. He's everybody's pal, but not in an asshole gym rat way. One time, he approached a guy using the stationary bike near where I preening and said, "Aren't you Lisa's brother? You're taking Bio Chem or something, right?" And Lisa's Brother was surprised at being approached but the two lapsed into easy conversation. The best is when Gorgeous George comes in with his girlfriend. She works out and he's Mr. Encouragement. Again, not in a "PUMP IT UP! FEEL THE MAX! DRIVE THE MONSTER" kind of way, but he literally cheers her on, in a public, but not showy way. He seems like one of those guys untouched by other people's judgement, and he's probably often spared it anyway because he's so affable. Plus his torso is V-shaped! I'm at best a pear or ampersand. Here is me in repose: &.

An Asian game show contestant. Forgive the broad "Asian" here, I'm pretty sure what I was watching was Japanese, but perhaps the Korean game show industry is working just as hard at creating bizarre entertainment, and I'd hate to shortchange them. Anyway, one time on a bus, I was sitting next to an Asian girl with an iPad and headphones on, watching what I took to be some kind of game show. It was a long trip, so I sneakily watched quite a bit of the show (though without sound, but that wouldn't have helped me understand it any better, I'm sure). Two hosts and a studio audience kept cutting to a twosome in a sparsely furnished room. At first I thought it was an apartment, or something, but later took it to be a kind of shed, because the contestants were really bundled up, as if it was cold outside and they weren't protected from the elements. So, the hosts would ask something of the contestants, and they would perform (presumably) what was asked of them. Once they appeared to sing together, another time they hopped on one foot, and once they even did those armpit fart noises (the audience in studio seemed to love that). After these tasks, an unseen person or persons would bring something into the weird room like long planks or swaths of canvas. I could not, for the life of me, figure out what was going on. Then they cut back to the same two contestants who walked out of the shed and onto a small boat built with the materials they had been given. Is that the gist of the show? Do comical tasks and we'll give you materials to build a sloop? And did the contestants build it? I don't see how, unless they were professional boat-makers. How popular is this show? It must have some appeal as this girl was watching from her iPad in Canada. I'm sure I'm missing essential information, so I'd love to be on that show (and a native speaker of whatever language it was), because this mystery stymies me worse than any whodunnit.

I realize I have explored this idea before, albeit in a slightly different premise, but it's a nice theme to return to, don't you think? Isn't this what everybody thinks when they try to fall asleep at night? "What must it be like to be that guy?" As the week progresses, I am hoisting myself out of this silly mood. An opportunity I thought I had lost at the beginning of the week suddenly took shape today and gave me something to work on. As the current projects of the original Becky seem to indicate, sometimes it's not the best idea to leave where you are. As attractive as the prospect of dropping out of your own life for awhile might seem, no such possibility truly exists, so best to sit back and enjoy your ride, or get up off the couch to pursue a career in medical office assistance.

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