Yet another conversation between two very single girls

15 Oct

LS: Hey ya’ll.  I am needed for – of all the things – log splitting on Fri AM.  Can someone pick up that shift for me?  I’ll get ya back!

Someone just sent me that text.

AP: Log splitting.  Classic pastime.

LS: Like what the fuck?

AP: Do you think it’s someone from Americorp?

LS:  No, I think it’s Scott Avett.

AP: Ya’ll, Scott Avett doesn’t have the time to be splitting wood.  He has jeans to squeeze into.

LS: I hate when I have unrealistic crushes.  This happened with Leonardo DiCaprio in the 7th grade.

AP: What do you mean?  Are you telling me I don’t have a chance with Ross Gellar i.e., David Schwimmer?  What are you trying to say, Lyndsay?!

LS: ROSS was your irrational crush?

AP: ROSS had a lot of great qualities.  He’s funny.  He’s caring.  He loves dinosaurs and madeleines.  Ross is a catch!

(no response from LS in over 5 minutes.  AP searches for a reasonable explanation)

AP: You see, I grew up thinking I semi resembled Rachel.  Ugh, this is stuff I should save for my therapist.

LS: I grew up thinking I looked like Buffy.

AP: Please clarify: original Buffy from the film entitled, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER or Sarah Michelle Gellar TV Buffy?

LS: Sarah Michelle.

AP: Huh. Sarah Michelle Gellar.  The petite blonde with the shank nose who constantly wore spaghetti strap tank tops even with the temperature drop at night?  THAT’s the girl who you thought you looked like?  Not Felicity who actually had curly, brown hair and a brain?

LS: In 6th grade I made my friends call me “B”.

AP: I hope that B stood for “butthead”.

LS: You know what it stood for.

AP: I want to say you took this Buffy thing too far.

LS:  I had the same cross as her too.

AP:  Oh wow…that’s really…endearing?

LS: Shut up, Jennifer.

(1 hour later)

LS: I’m watching a little Country Strong to get ready for my day.  I suggest you do the same.

(30 minutes later)

LS:  Hello?!

AP: I try to ignore all Country Strong comments.

LS: Pshhh, you’re missing out.  Are you home?

AP: I am home!  Marty is in London so I get to work off my computer from the couch.

LS: Pajamas and bad TV on in the background?

AP:  Are you outside my window?

LS: Mwhahaha.

AP: Are you at home?

LS: Yeah.  Now I’m watching The Notebook…again.  Did I tell you about my sex dream?

AP: No!

LS: It was with Daniel Day Lewis.

AP: I’d like to hear all about the Daniel Day Lewis sex, please.

LS: You have no idea how good it was.  I was late to babysitting because of it.

AP: I told you about my Hank Azaria sex dream, right?

LS: No!  He’s gay.

AP: Says who?

LS: His face.

LS: His lisp.

LS: The characters he plays.

AP: I find this all very offensive and a clear generalization.

LS: He likes men.

AP: He was married to Helen Hunt.

LS: Exactly.

AP: Regardless – he was amazing in bed.  Really took charge.

LS: Of your butt?

AP: I hate you.

LS: What the fuck, I’m in love with a fictional character.

AP: Oh which one of Daniel’s? Hawkeye? Newland Archer?

LS: Bill the Butcher.

AP: That B definitely stood for butthead.

A CONVERSATION BETWEEN TWO VERY SINGLE GIRLS

28 Sep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following takes place on a Monday night.  Two very single girls, LYNDSAY and ASHLEY, sit on a pillow crowded couch while watching the CBS television show TWO AND A HALF MEN.  A store bought cherry pie sits on the coffee table before them.  A bottle of Skinny Girl Margarita is practically finished.

 

(“Men, men, men, men, men…”)

LYNDSAY: Did you see Charlie Sheen at the EMMYS?

ASHLEY: I didn’t see anyone at the EMMYS, ya know what I mean?

(Long pause)

ASHLEY: I was wasted.

(The sound of canned laughter)

ASHLEY: Ya know, Lynds, when you texted me a couple hours ago saying you bought cheese, I thought you meant actual cheese.  Not Cheez-its.

LYNDSAY: Ugh, sorry.  I should have been more specific.

ASHLEY: Don’t get me wrong.  I will gladly eat these Cheez-its.  But when someone says cheese, I guess my mind immediately wanders to aged cheddar.  Or even a good size hunk of Velveeta.

LYNDSAY: Well, I’m poor.

ASHLEY: Fair enough.

(Commercial break.  McDonalds theme is heard in the background)

ASHLEY: Do you like fast food?

LYNDSAY: I don’t like it, I LOVE it.

ASHLEY: Really?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen you eat fast food.

LYNDSAY: I’m ashamed and get it by myself.

ASHLEY: I’m that way with a buffet.  Best to go alone.

LYNDSAY: I blame my father.

ASHLEY: For everything?  Or for the fast food?

LYNDSAY: For the fast food.  He was always in charge of picking me up from sports.  I’d get in the car starving and he’d pull up to a drive-thru.

ASHLEY: How would you rank the fast food places?  Starting with your favorite.

LYNDSAY:  Gosh, that’s so hard.  It’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child.

(She looks off)

LYNDSAY: But, we all have to make difficult decisions.  Wendy’s.  I adore Wendy’s.  The spicy chicken sandwiches are INSANE.

(“Up next: Mike and Molly”)

LYNDSAY: And if you asked me five years ago, Burger King would have been my number two.  But, probably…well, I’d say about three years ago, they changed their chicken nugget recipe.  Now, I’d say they rank around 5th.

ASHLEY: That is so interesting.  I hadn’t heard about their nuggets’ recipe changing.

LYNDSAY: Seriously?  Huh.  It was kind of a big deal.

ASHLEY (somewhat offended): Okay, well, sorry.

LYNDSAY:  Number two would have to be Pizza Hut.  It’s apparently the worst for you but lets be honest – it’s so good.

ASHLEY:  I’ve never had Pizza Hut.

(Lyndsay slaps Ashley across the face)

LYNDSAY: Number three and four, McDonalds and KFC respectively.

ASHLEY: Oh, I heard they do baked chicken now.

LYNDSAY: Yeah they make it healthy but don’t.

ASHLEY: I do that with beverages.  I put coffee in my whiskey but then don’t.

LYNDSAY: Finally, like I said earlier, number five is Burger King.

ASHLEY: What about Taco Bell?

LYNDSAY: Oh, Hell no.

(The two girls look at the TV.  MIKE AND MOLLY has started.  The two main characters hug)

LYNDSAY: I can’t believe they named the fat cop, “Officer Biggs”.

ASHLEY:  Look at them hug.  Their privates don’t even touch.

LYNDSAY:  If they lost weight, they’d be two, very attractive people.

ASHLEY:  They’d lose their funny though.

LYNDSAY: Do you think that’s why we aren’t on diets?

ASHLEY: Because if we were on them, we’d lose our ‘awesome’?

LYNDSAY: Yeah, exactly.

ASHLEY: Oh, totally.  Our awesome is going nowhere.

***

 

 

 

 

SITE UNDER CONSTRUCTION

18 Aug

Dudes,

We’re trying to reconstruct our humor website.  Unbeknownst to us, this involves an insane amount of concentration due to our fifth grade reading-level.

 

Hang tight!  We have so many new stories ready for sharing.

 

Cin-celery (We told you – 5th grade!),

 

da prudes

Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… And totally redeem yourself!

30 Dec

To Whom it May Concern Part V

8 Dec

And now an open letter to ex-girlfriends.

Ahem.

Dear ex-girlfriends,

Excuse my restricted unleashing of emotions but you people are the fucking worst. You are like a job, making me spend all these hours thinking about you. And what’s worse is forcing me to put forth my best efforts in removing your name from all sources I come in contact with- especially my boyfriend’s mouth.

I don’t want to be able to trace you. But thanks to the Internet and our shared hometown, I can track your every move. There are a couple of you ex-girlfriends floating around town. And I’m sure some of you are very nice, just like me – I’m a freggin’ peach. But the fact that you shared intimacy and – what is more consequential- meals with my boyfriend, it makes you competition. An annoyance. The unexpected pebble in the bottom of my shoe.

There are two types of ex-girlfriends that I’ll focus on – the one that broke your boyfriend’s heart and the one he just broke up with. In my opinion, the worst ex-girlfriend is always the most recent one. The wound is still fresh, 9 times out of 10 (in my case, 10 times out of 10) she’s prettier than you, and for reasons unbeknownst to me- she’s sporting a great rack.

From here on out, I’m going to refer to my boyfriend’s latest ex-girlfriend as Pat. Purely just to make her sound fat.

Pat, so help me God, if you log into Facebook and write on our mutual friend’s wall one more time, I’m going to lose it.

News Feed: Pat wrote on Kirk’s wall.

Kirk, I misssssss you. Where have you been all my life? And boy do I have a story for you. You’ll love it! It all started out when my BFF, Kitty, and I (blah, blah, blah, blah, shut the fuck up already)…then we got lemon-drop shots, (blah, blah, blah)…completely ruined my manicure, (for the love of God, wrap it up)…wound up groping the cat from behind (Wait, what?)…isn’t that just the funniest thing you’ve ever heard?

xoxoxoxo Pat

There is nothing more I hate in a letter than “xoxo”, unless of course, those “o”s stand for donuts and the “x”s stand for Xanax.

Pat signs all her letters with “xoxo”. I sign all my letters with “Thank God the Day is Almost Over”. It is no wonder then that I’d like to ring her neck with those “o”s and cross out her eyes with those “x”s.

Here’s my other problem with Pat. My boyfriend never has anything negative to say about her.

“She’s a nice person.”

“Are you sure she wasn’t a slut? It would make me feel a lot better if she were a slut.”

“Ash, she’s not a slut. She’s a really good girl.”

I sat there, my fingers tapping on my chin while I thought aloud. “Okay so, I’ll call off that Herpes rumor then,” I lifted my eyes towards his, “Please tell me she’s a moron.”

“She actually went to a really good school.”

“There’s gotta be something…oh! Daddy issues?”

“Both of her parents adore her.”

I walked out of the room fuming, while shouting back, “Why didn’t you just marry her then!”

“Because she’s not you,” he said calmly.

“Well eff me, this broad sounds great!”

***

And as if I wasn’t having enough problems with the most recent breakup, the lost love always finds her way back into the picture.

“I just wish I could trust you more,” my boyfriend said to me as the movie went to commercial break.

“Why can’t you?” I asked reaching for more Twizzlers while moving my feet to the Comcast “Triple Play” song.

“Because Hannah did some really horrible things to me in our relationship.”

Sometimes I think about punching Hannah in the face. Punching her in the face, shaking out my wrist, and then downing a shot like you see in the movies.

“Someone ought to clean up that mess,” I’d utter to the bartender before having all eyes follow me out the door.

Girls, like Hannah, who are exes to our boyfriends have, for some reason or another, brought disturbance into our current relationships. It’s the Hannah-types that keep men from having faith in women. They keep men from understanding us and desiring us. Thanks to those Hannah-types, the present-day girlfriends are always cleaning up. It can be an overwhelming and tiring job. But if it weren’t for those Hannah-types, we’d be unemployed. As a result of Hannah, I have a boyfriend.

In return, I want to thank Hannah, immediately before telling her she’s an idiot. If it weren’t for her, perhaps the two of them would still be together. Maybe even married.

I get miserable thinking about the possibility. Instead of my boyfriend asking me how my day is going, he could be asking her. Instead of wishing me a goodnight, he’d be wishing her one.

However there is no “instead”. There is only now.

Now, he’s mine.

Thinking back on what I said earlier, as opposed to being so austere, I’d like to recognize the exes in a more positive light. I want to express my appreciation to you, ex- girlfriends.

You see, in the big picture, you were all merely steppingstones in the water that led my boyfriend to me. Heavy, dull, muddied steppingstones. And now that I’ve come along, I’ve washed over you. So do me a favor and never resurface.

In fact, drown bitches.

xoxo,

Ashley

The Leading Lady

1 Dec

I’ve been having a recurring dream for years now.

I’m outside a Barnes and Noble and it’s dark and cold. The deserted parking lot is wet from a short spell of rain and I’m waiting by the bronzed door handles with a mangy German Shepard. I’m nervous about something. I keep pacing back and forth – an action I only do while on the telephone. But I don’t have a phone in this dream; my hands are in my pockets.

I finally work up the nerve to go inside the store and immediately upon entering, I’m told the store is closing. I race towards the back of the store, where empty registers fill the wall. I stop. There next to me is a table in which, sprawled all over the top, sit hundreds of magazines. I never pick up a magazine from the top of the table. Instead, I kneel down and pick up the top magazine. Left hand pile. Bottom shelf. Each time there is someone different on the cover. But every time it’s a woman. I wake up.

Amy Poehler.
Sandra Bullock.
Kate Winslet.
Amanda Peet.

These are some of the women I’ve seen on the covers.

After telling Kimberly time and time again about the details of this recurring dream, she told me to look up the meaning.

“The unconscious is clearly trying to tell you something, Ash. Go find out! Just make sure you get a reliable piece of literature on the subject.”

According to the kooldreammoodz.com, ‘to see a particular actor or actress in your dream, look at the role they are playing. Even though you may not know them on a personal level, how you perceive them or the characters they play can provide understanding in how it relates to you.’

By God, I’m gonna be an actress.

I understand the almost universal desire of wanting to be an actor. Personally, I want nothing more than to walk down the red carpet, my stomach queasy with butterflies, thinking I will only be hours away from hearing my name amongst others for the best actress category.

Even from a very early age it was clear. My mom would call my name throughout the house letting me know dinner was on the table, only to find me standing on a rocking chair in the basement, addressing the people of Argentina by song.

And if I wasn’t in the basement, I was in the garage tap dancing to the “Chicago” soundtrack with my mother’s black panty house on and one of my father’s dress socks wrapped around my chest. I was talking sex, crime, and heartache before I had any idea of their meanings.

But I never thought I’d simply be discovered, hand-picked out of a crowd of shoppers at the local mall, like so many people throughout the country – throughout the world! – believe.

I knew I had to work hard and this idea stemmed from a premature obsession with John Lipton and his damn stack of blue cards. Inside the Actor’s Studio talked of the craft often. Every actress or actor featured on the show had a unique way to describe his or her craft. But one thing remained certain- they all had a craft. (That’s how they would say it too. As if craft were in verbal italics)

This prompted drama class enrollment from middle school all through college taught by crazy, single ladies, ages 50 – 87, with cat hair all over their loose, black clothing.

***

“Get out of this damn car! Do you want to be an actress or not?” My mother gritted through her teeth while prying my cold, stone hands from the car’s leather seats.

“That is exactly what Patsy Ramsey said to JonBenet. I should probably be concerned.”

“I paid $500 dollars for you to memorize lines and play charades, you little brat. Now walk up those stairs and don’t even think about setting foot outside that classroom door.”

“You paid $500 dollars for the acting school that’s above Fins and Feathers pet store? Ma, you were ripped off.”

She screamed out of frustration.

“Okay, see you at eight. And if you come across any chords, please don’t bring them with you,” I said hopping out of the front seat.

Walking up the dimly lit staircase, covered with fraying red carpet, I began to shake. It’s always been a result of my anxiety. My knees wobble, my teeth clatter, and my fingers jiggle even when trying to hold them flat. As much as I wanted to be an actress, the thought of having to perform in front of a group of strangers – older strangers, thanks to my mother’s intermediate class sign up blunder – was petrifying.

“Hi, my name is Ashley Peter. Is this Drama 200?”

“Quick! Stand against the door,” a woman with bright red, man hair said to me, “You’ll be first in our exercise.”

“Great, I’ve always been athletic,” I replied.

She had her hands on my shoulders, pushing my back up to a poster of Stella Adler. As I watched her peer her head into the classroom, I tried talking myself out of the oncoming feeling of fear.

You can do this. There’s nothing to be afraid of here. You want this.

“Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. You go in before me. They don’t know I’m the teacher. So I want you to pretend to be the teacher. It will be an improv assignment. But don’t say anything. You get it?”

“I–”

“Good. Now get in there.”

I walked into the room and the crazy red head shut the door behind me. Suddenly, about twenty faces shot up to stare at me directly in the eyes. I thought my knees were going to give out.

My eyes rolled up to the ceiling as my fists stayed clenched to the sides of my body. I began repeating the exercise over in my head. ‘You’re a teacher. Show them you’re a teacher. But don’t say a word. How will they know you’re a teacher?’

At that self-proposed question, I immediately came to an answer. Of course! I’ll do what all teachers do!

I silently made my way over to a girl, who I would eventually attend high school with, and picked up her blank, yellow composition pad. I began ripping pages out and tearing them up into tinier pieces, letting them fall before her like a sorrier version of confetti at a Mexican parade.

“What the–,” she quizzically said.

I ignored her all together, keeping in mind the instructions given to me just a few minutes ago. ‘Don’t say anything’. I spotted my next victim. The guy trying to look misunderstood, with a floppy head of hair. I went up to him and put my face directly across from his, our noses practically touching. I then pointed to the desk, implying that he should concentrate on his work. Then I found the urge to run my fingers through his hair. I followed that urge.

“Get outta here,” he said while swatting away my hand.

Feeling more comfortable, I hopped onto the stage that was no more than an inch higher than the floor. I began waving to each of the students in the class, stretching my mouth to portray the largest smile, I could physically handle.

“Are we in the right class?” I heard someone in the back say.

Oh for the love of God, are you guys idiots? I started getting frustrated and disheartened. How could they not get it?

I cleared my throat and fixed my posture. I pulled out an imaginary book from my back pocket and started flipping through the air pages trying to read my students a story of triumph- a rabbit forced to hop with only one leg.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, sit down!” The lady with red hair shouted from the back of the room, “Just what do you think you’re doing?”

I pushed my finger into my chest and looked behind me.

“Yes, you. What the Hell are you doing?”

“You told me to pretend to be the teacher.”

“And that’s pretending to be a teacher?”

“Well I could have done better but you said not to say anything.”

“I meant not to give away the secret. What is this, acting school for mutes? American Drama School for Quasimodo?”

“Well that’s not fair. Quasimodo never lost his hearing.”

“You can step down from the stage now. Take a seat.”

I awkwardly walked past her towards an empty chair. I had to brush bits of yellow paper off the seat before getting in place.

“Welcome to Drama 200. My name is Sandy and I will be your teacher. What I was trying to show you, and which did not at all work, did not even nearly brush the surface of what I was looking for, what I’d consider the saddest attempt, was an improv exercise.”

I hated Sandy.

The next week, when my group was taking stage with a scene from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, I was quietly confident. I had religiously rehearsed the Three Witches scene the moment it was first handed to me.

This was my time to shine. This was my time to prove to my classmates that preparation and talent can produce a true star.

“Enter the three witches…and action!” Sandy yelled from her director’s chair.

“Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn, and caldron bubble,” we all said in unison.

My monologue was up first. “In the poison’d entrails throw. Toad, that under cold stone, days and night has thirty-one -”

“CUT!”

The three of us froze on stage. There was silence until Sandy cleared her throat.

“Ashley, why do you have a German accent?”

“Oh was that uncalled for? I was trying something.”

“Do you know anything about Shakespeare? Because I’m assuming you don’t. British, Ashley. This is a British play.”

“Very well,” I said while taking a deep breath, “Let me just take a moment to prepare.”

“Get off the stage. All of you.”

My scene partners looked at me and rolled their eyes. I recall one of them even saying, “Thanks a lot.”

The three of us walked off the stage. Two of my cast-mates took their seats while I continued to walk to the door.

“Where are you going?” Sandy asked.

“To the bathroom.”

I exited the room and never went back.

***

“Feeeel the energy, class. THIS, this right here, is DA-RAAAMMMA. You drop the peeee-low, you must drop this class!”

Laine Sutton, my high school drama teacher, was by far my craziest acting teacher. Her famous warm-up exercise consisted of making the class play catch with a small, decorative pillow.

I looked at my best friend, Carly, who had been enrolled in the same drama classes throughout the years. I shrugged my shoulders and then whipped the pillow at her face.

“Daaaaaa-raammaaa,” I yelled while the pillow made it’s way through the air.

From my perspective, it became clear to me that while I enjoyed acting, I was not the best actor in the class. Every time I concentrated on my emotions in hopes of successfully completing a dramatic exercise, I’d get laughs. For instance, in the exercise “I Hate It When…” a person stands alone, in front of the room, under a spotlight and completes the phrase. It’s intended to bring out raw hate and passion.

It was my turn to walk away from darkness and into the light. I remember feeling the heat from the light on the back of my neck. I cleared my throat while looking down at my shoes, concentrating. I picked up my head and squinted towards the back of the room. I could not see any of my peers.

“I Hate It When…I’m sitting on the toilet in one of the stalls and some floozy keeps talking to me while she’s fixing her make-up. When I pee, I need to concentrate.”

Silence. And then giggles. And then a roar of laughter.

I walked out of the spotlight back into the darkness where no one could see the total humiliation on my face.

I must be horrendous. Because I was dead serious in saying that it takes concentration for me to pee.

But Ms. Sutton could not have disagreed more with my assumption. Letters, sent from Laine to my parents’ home, gave me all the evidence I needed. Ashley should further her studies as an actress. Or Ashley has a special aptitude for this subject.

But what surprised me even more was when she cast me as the lead in our high school’s production of “Little Women”.

“Okay, Gleyce you’ll be playing “Beth” because she dies. Carly you’re the prettiest so prepare for the role of “Amy”. We really don’t need a “Meg”. She was always too boring. And finally, Ashley. Ashley, you’re going to be our lead. Our, Jo.”

“Is it because I’m the most suited for a boy’s name?”

“Just get to rehearsal,” Laine responded.

High school play rehearsals were a joke. Other actors would do next period’s homework, while some would take the opportunity to sleep. From what I remember, Carly and I would memorize our lines, block, and then fill the remaining time with small talk.

I felt prepared for the upcoming show. But I was nervous, extremely nervous.

The day of the show, I walked into school with my costume and my hair done-up to look the part of “Jo”. I never wore make-up during my time at high school save for this day, so walking past any sort of reflective surface made my confidence rise to a great amount.

This is going to be a great performance.

The entire school was called in for a preview of the play. Standing off stage, in one of the wings, my heart would not settle down from my throat. I caught a glimpse of the filled theatre. Towards the back, kids would throw things at each other. I saw one freshman jokingly punch the arm of his friend next to him. A teacher running down the aisle took my attention from the back of the room. She whispered something into the ear of the principal. Together, the two staff members walked back up the aisle; my eyes followed their every step until I felt a tap on my shoulder.

“You’re up,” Ms. Sutton said to Carly, Gleyce, and me.

The three of us stepped on stage behind the blue, weathered curtain. I could hear the voices of my classmates begin to hush. The rope was pulled back and instantly, nothing separated us from the audience.

The beginning of our scene was meant for the three of us to unwrap gifts. Gleyce had the first line.

But she never said anything. She just stared at Carly and me. For five minutes, the three of us unwrapped imaginary gifts.

Someone in the audience coughed, sparking me to repair the situation.

“Beth, weren’t you going to say something about how you didn’t want anything for Christmas? How you thought people shouldn’t spend money when so many men are suffering in the army?”

She just blinked.

Carly then tried to help.

“Beth. Beth, you were going to say something, right? Better yet. Beth. Beth you are going to say something, right?”

For the next ten minutes, Carly and I were posing questions to Gleyce, trying to get her to mutter out the phrase we needed in order to start the important action.

No such luck. From the wing, Ms. Sutton herself pulled the rope and the curtains saved us from anymore belittlement.

I later heard from a friend that she thought the performance seemed avant-garde, ‘like two neurotic women from the olden days just discovered crack and were searching for more.’

After “Little Women”, I was never cast in a play again.

***
I’m staring at the television monitor and I let out a sigh. I roll my eyes to the back of my head before looking around the room.

Oh, please. You people can’t be buying this.

The actress on the television monitor is the actress sitting five feet away from me in my Acting For Camera class at NYU. She’s a thicker girl but has the type of face some would find absolutely breathtaking.

To me, I could already tell I hated her.

She begins to cry. And Joan Horvath, the critically acclaimed acting teacher, puts her arthritic, gnarled hands over her heart.

As a young woman, Joan struggled to become an actress. She was taught by some of the better-known teachers in the history of film and theater. Sandy Meisner and Lee Strasberg were her mentors and two of the reasons why she decided to stop acting to teach others.

Because of the influence put on Joan, she only teaches Method Acting– a technique in which the actor creates thoughts and emotions for their character, hoping to develop lifelike performances.

Joan is terrifying. She hobbles about on a cane and has worn the same black turtleneck and sweatpants for 85 years now. She’s 87.

Now the actress is sobbing. Along with her tears, her mascara is also running down her face. She comes to a pause, causing me to think she’s finished.

I put my hands together for one loud clap.

“SH!” Joan hisses to me from over her shoulder.

I want to throw the television monitor against the ground. I tell myself, this is such a typical NYU actress. So pretentious, so boastful. I bet she isn’t even majoring in drama.

She finishes her monologue and the room erupts with applause. She carefully wipes the tears from under her eyes and the one tear that hung from her nose.

“Sweetie, are you a drama major?” Joan asks.

“Why, yes. Yes I am.” Mariah, the featured actress, replied breathlessly.

“You can absolutely tell. What a wonderful job, sweetheart.”

Mariah sat down in the front row. Classmates on either side of her patted her knees in congratulations.

“Ashley Peter. You’re up next.”

I took my feet off the seat in front of me and stood up, beginning to make me way to the stage from the back of the room.

My face popped up on the television monitor.

“Can we zoom out a bit?” Joan asked, “A little bit more. A little bit more. More. Okay, that ought to do it.”

I looked at myself in the monitor and saw an image of me no larger than a needle.

“From what piece of art are you taking your monologue from, Ashley?”

I sat up in my seat confidently.

“’When Harry Met Sally’.”

I saw Joan roll her eyes. “Well, take it away.”

“Mmmmm….Ahhhh…Yes. Yes. YES. YES!!!!!!—“

“Okay, thank you,” Joan said in the middle of my monologue.

“Excuse me?”

“Step down from the stool, Ms. Peter.”

“But I haven’t finished.”

“I’ve seen enough.”

“Maybe it’s the way I attacked the scene. Let me try a different approach.”

“Ashley, if my cane were longer, I’d wrap it around your neck and yank you off that stool. Now step down.”

Feeling perplexed, I stepped down from the stool.

“What is your major, Ashley?”

“Oh, well currently I’m double majoring in Dramatic Writing and Film and Television.”

“You’re a writer?”

“Yes. I’m a writer.”

“That’s what I thought,” Joan said as she turned her head to face the class. “Lets take a 5-minute break.”

I immediately ran down the hall because I knew Kimmie was in her screenwriting class. I jumped up and down, in front of the small window etched out in the door. Kimmie and I made eye contact. She got up from her seat and she met me outside.

“What’s the matter?”

“I just did my monologue. And she stopped me before I could finish, and oh God, the whole thing was just so embarrassing.”

“What was your monologue?”

“A scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’.”

“Oh, no. You did the orgasm scene, didn’t you?”

“Well of course I did the orgasm scene. It’s the best part!”

“Okay, I’m going to go back to class now.”

“Hey, now. Why the rush?”

“Because you don’t think. Actors want a meaty role, Ash. Your teacher wants you to pick a meaty role. To be taken seriously, you’re going to need a meaty role. The orgasm scene in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ is not a meaty.”

“All this talk about meat is really getting me hungry,” I joked.

Kimmie turned around and went back to her classroom.

I returned to Joan’s classroom only to be met by her outside. We stared at each other for a while.

“I’ll switch out?” I asked her.

She brought her cane up to her chin and rested her weight on the back of the door, never taking her eyes off mine.

“That would be best, wouldn’t it?”

And with that, I got my bag from the classroom and made my way to Registrar to sign up for another elective.

The next day, I walked into my new class, Writing the Screenplay, with professor, Josh Cohen. A blank composition pad and sharpened pencil occupied my hands. Josh closed the door behind the last student to enter.

“Okay, lets start writing,” he said.

And with those instructions, I had never felt more like a leading lady.

***

Spin Cycle

18 Sep

When I was younger, I can remember my brother, Jason, getting constant nose bleeds. There wasn’t a day that went by where I wouldn’t see him unraveling a roll of toilet paper, tilting his head back, and shoving a wad of Charmin up to, what appeared to be, the tip of his brain.

It’s no wonder then that I wouldn’t inherit the nose bleeds but rather form my own version of dealing with stress- lock jaw.

“I wish I’d get nose bleeds,” I recall telling my mother as I sipped my soup through a straw. I had braces at the time and every so often, I had to stop the stream of soup from entering my mouth to pick out the pieces of parsley my father insisted on using for garnishing purposes.

My mother quietly soaked me in, pursing her lips while her eyes buzzed about my entire body. I was probably in one of my brother’s Body Glove T-shirts and my own dinosaur pajama bottoms. And if even possible, my hair was messier than my outfit.

“No, you don’t. They’re highly unattractive,” she went on, “So be careful what you wish for. God knows, we don’t need one more thing going against your favor.”

***

I’m no stranger to wishing. And it doesn’t matter if it’s seeing a penny heads up on the New York City sidewalk or throwing a Euro over my shoulder in Italy’s Trieve fountain- I always wish for the same things.

“Vai, Ashley, vai!” Ms. Parenti yelled at me during a high school trip to Italy with my Italian class.

“Hang on, will ya!?” I was rapidly searching my bag for a loose Euro. Unsuccessful, I flipped over my bag, hoping one might fall to the ground. Nothing. Niente.

I looked over to Chris, a friend and classmate, who was aimlessly taking in the sites of Florence. He knew the inevitable question was coming in his direction so he attempted (quite horrendously) to appear enamored by the tourist traps.

“Chris, give me a Euro.”

“Oh. Well, ya see, I was going to use my last Euro to get some Gelato. You know that place right around the corner that has the Fragola flavor-”

“Do you want me to fall in love and live happily ever after with fame, fortune, and one of those huge outdoor trampolines, or not? Because that’s what’s on the table right now.”

Reluctantly, he handed over his last Euro.

“Ashley!” I could hear Parenti protesting in the distance.

“Oh for the love of God, cut me a break!” I shouted back.

I kissed the Euro, concentrated on my dreams, and flipped the coin into the water.

Feeling good about the amount of money I spent on the number of wishes, I walked back to the group. There, Mrs. Parenti threw up her arms to emphasize her irritation of having to wait in the crowded square during what felt like the hottest day in July.

“I hope you get everything you wished for.”

***

“Have you been under a lot of stress lately?” Dr. Fingesten asked me as I sat before her with my mouth opened an amount barely measurable.

“I’m always stressed,” I managed to say between my teeth.

“Well describe your typical routine to me, including what you like to do for fun. For instance, what did you do last night?”

“I drank a bottle of champagne through a swirly straw and finished the box of Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches that were in my freezer,” I responded, “I had to melt them in the microwave beforehand.”

“And…?” she asked, hoping to see the fun in my last night.

“And…I bawled for a solid hour while watching the Bachelorette.”

“Okay, we need to get you healthy. Both mentally and physically. I must say though that most people seem to lose weight when having severe lock jaw. It’s an amazing feat but it seems to me you’ve actually lost no weight whatsoever. You’re really determined to eat, aren’t you?”

I stared at her, tapping my fingers against the white paper covering the bed.

She got the point.

“Anyway, I believe with ridding the stress in your life, you’ll stop getting tetanus. How about joining a gym?”

“I have a membership.”

“Well how about going?”

“Oh God, no, pass!”

“Have you ever tried a vegetarian diet?”

“And what next? Start playing hacky-sack? Thanks but no thanks.”

“Are you a spiritual person?”

“Jesus.”

“Oh, so you have found a God? Someone to believe in?”

“Christ, no! I meant, ‘Jesus, look how bad it’s getting.”

I pointed to my mouth. My lips were closed and I could no longer part my top and bottom teeth. The only sound I could make was a growl. And since I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time, the sound was completely useless.

“Go to the gym, Ashley.”

For me, getting in shape usually means going to the gym half of the week where I dedicate my time to the elliptical machine. But I started getting bored with running in place for forty minutes every other day. Naturally, I tried figuring out what would be a better way to use my time. Ah. I know. Sitting for forty minutes.

Spinning has unfailingly intrigued me. The door to the studio is always shut and it’s situated towards the back of the gym, a place one visits if he or she is spinning and or looking to get raped. When people would exit the room, they would be drenched in sweat, they would have a pile of dirty towels stacked in one hand, and they would always have a smile on their face. What goes on in there? These people didn’t just need a shower, they needed a cigarette. It surely can’t just be exercise. No one is ever that happy after exercising. It didn’t make any sense. Was it a secret cult? It’s drugs, isn’t it? Something sexual?

I decided to check it out for myself. And when I did, I understood the reason for the spin following. It all had to do-

with Lou.

When I entered the room, the only seat left was directly in front of the instructor’s bike. He hadn’t arrived yet but intimidation had already sunk in knowing I was going to be straight in his eye line. There was to be no slacking off, no looking at the clock, no sitting on equipment while watching TV; basically everything that had become my gym routine over the years had to be thrown immediately out the window.

If I made more money, one aspect of spinning that I would appreciate is that the sport also incorporates shoe shopping. Dedicated cyclists have a clip beneath the soles of their shoes that lock into the bike. I assume it’s for some hippy reasoning of wanting to be “one with the bike”. Or maybe for those who have good balance, it’s a way for them to show off. But for those who aren’t inclined to purchase a new pair of shoes, there are the unpopular, undesirable sneaker baskets.

I didn’t see anyone else in the classroom reaching for the sneaker baskets which made me feel even more like the new kid in class. I stood there with the two baskets in my hand, one for each foot, and tried to figure out the best way to attach them to the sedentary bike. I must have flipped the objects over in my hands a hundred times and after each revolution, peeked out of the corner of my eye to see if anyone would want to help me.

There weren’t any takers. In fact, I think I was the classroom’s entertainment. I saw perfectly made-up housewives turn the corners of their lips up when they noticed I was already sweating. And the men- the ones that had made so much money from the internet boom- stare, thinking how implausible it was that I couldn’t figure out how to link my baskets to my bike.

Suddenly, the lights went out. I jumped, while trying to adjust to the change, I could feel someone behind me. I thought it was another spectator, one that wanted a closer look at my laughable approach, but it turned out to be a helping hand.

“Here, I can do that for you.”

Before I saw his face, I felt his hand. He had placed it on the center of my back, right where my bra was clasped, and instinctively, I wiggled my shoulders hoping the hand would slip away.

“Thanks,” I had begun to say, “These baskets seem especially difficult. Maybe I grabbed old ones or really cheap-”

Click. He immediately fused the right basket with the right lock.

“Sorry. I’ve been doing this for a while.”

Click. Left with left.

“Wow. Well, thanks for putting up a fight,” I said sarcastically.

He laughed. It was the first time I got a full view of his face. Always one to find celebrity look-a-likes, I inherently matched him to the actor, Michael Vartan, from Alias and Monster-in-law fame.

“Okay, class, lets start warming up those legs.” He shouted into his microphone. His voice echoed throughout the room; speakers were in every corner.

“What’s your name?” He asked, looking directly at me.

“Ass-” I cleared my throat. It was a gross hack, one with excess phlegm. “It’s Ashley.”

“Great. Ashley, why don’t you mount the bike?”

I smiled, thinking ‘oh my God, what a flirt. Mount the bike. HA! Just what are you insinuating, Lou?’

But then I looked around. And the entire room looked back as I was the only one with two feet on the ground, mouth agape, studying the way Lou’s spandex unisuit moved in sync with his oversized, overworked thighs.

“Ashley?”

“Right. Yes. Of course. The bike.”

I mounted my bike like I would a horse; one leg holding all my weight, straight on the pedal while I swung the other leg swiftly across the seat.

“Ow!”

“I am so, so sorry,” I said to the woman that was running for office in my town.

She grasped the collar of her shirt, moving her eyes to their corners, as she tried to get a better look at my footprint directly in the center of her back. She opened her mouth in complaint and mustered up an immature sigh of vexation.

“They should really think about separating these bikes, huh?” I innocently asked. I tried giving her my sincerest apology without having to repeat myself.

She wasn’t having it. In fact, to further extend her silent treatment towards me, she squeezed her water bottle over her mouth, letting the liquid collect behind her perfectly veneered teeth.

I looked towards Lou who had clearly witnessed the entire debacle. He smiled at me and shook his head as if to say, “Don’t worry. The politician is crazy. You have my vote.”

And you have mine, Lou. Vote for sexiest male cyclist, with two balls, that is.

“In 5, we’re going to pick it up to 3!” Lou shouted even though his microphone was up to the highest level of volume. I didn’t care that my ears were practically bleeding, he could yell at me all he wanted. In fact, if my parents had his exact authoritative tone, I would have cleaned my room all day, every day. Hell, I wouldn’t even hide anything under my bed.

I may have been jumping the gun, by minutes if not hours, but it became clear to me that I was falling in love with Lou.

We had so much in common. According to his playlist, he not only loved lite FM, he also understood that a one-hit wonder can have as much meaning as a song coming from a legend. And aside from musical taste, we also showed signs of sweating instantaneously, whether it be due to the sight or the thought of physical movement.

As I absentmindedly pedaled my way into his heart, I couldn’t help but daydream about our life together. I’d surely pick up cycling as a hobby. Probably somewhere in France, where we’ll vacation and eventually rent a house during Le Tour de France. We’d have matching spandex tops, complete with advertisements from Carvel and Five Guys. Laughter will fill our home as we click down the hardwood floor hallways. Perhaps Lou even does an impromptu tap dance.

“Oh hahahahahaha, Lou,” I say while swatting my hand onto his chest.

“TURN IT RIGHT!”

Lou’s sudden command shocked me back into reality.

As I watched him turn his resistance knob to the right, while continuously bobbing his head to Flock of Seagulls, I couldn’t help but lower my eyes to his hands. I love men with strong hands and forearms. It probably stems back to uncivilized times where women flocked to the men who could successfully hold a boulder overhead. Lou could definitely hold a boulder. His strength was undeniable. His veins shot out in every direction, like a worm under the skin of an apple. His fingers were thick and blonde, barely noticeable hair covered the knuckles. I didn’t see a ring which could only mean two things- 1) I have a shot. Or 2) I definitely don’t have a shot.

“And up to 3!”

Suddenly, I was back in a familiar position–individualism. The only one sitting, I looked around the room as all my fellow spinners stood up on their bikes, hands grasping the very top of the handle bars while their legs pumped to a range that made me envision them all climbing mountains.

“Ashley, up to 3!” Lou yelled at me.

He could have at least been discrete. Shoot me a look or even a ‘raise the roof’ to get me off the seat. How dare he humiliate me in front of the entire class. Calling me out like I was some incompetent sportswoman. This is spinning, is it not, Lou? We do sit, don’t we? If anything, this is really your fault, not to mention the faulty description on the class schedule.

Mark your calendar, Lou. This is our first fight.

Begrudgingly, I pushed down on the handlebars, lifting my body up to a standing position. At that moment, I was the walking definition of misery. Every so often, my large eyes, filled with tears of hate, would wonder looking for a clock. I tried my best to show Lou my affection for him was turning sour. Turning up my head, furrowing my brow, I even tried grunting but it only confused him.

“That a girl, Ashley! Way to work it; no regrets!”

God Damnit, Lou, I’m not a child. Can’t you see I’m trying to make you feel bad?

Another half hour passed filled with increased resistances and less recognizable songs. Five minutes before the class ended, Lou instructed the class to turn our dials to the lightest level of difficulty and prepare for the cool down.

As we stretched out our limbs- first our arms, then our backs, finally dismounting the bike and elongating our legs, I noticed Lou would every so often look up at me and smile.

My anger melted away at an embarrassingly fast rate. I smiled back, making it clear I was not only interested and available, I also enjoyed his class.

But for all the wrong reasons.

Not only was my eye line in perfect opposition of Lou’s, the constant motion of sitting up, sitting down, reaching forwards, falling back was making me- how do you say? Oh yes.

Horny as Hell.

I tried pulling my sneaker baskets off the tracks, mumbling at the realization I made no improvement in figuring out these godforsaken alien shoes. Lou patted my shoulder as he crossed over to the light switch.

“Just leave them. You must have gotten a bum pair.”

I turned to face Lou, still hunching over the stationary bike.

“You did a really great job today, Ashley.”

His hand reached over to the light switch and just as his index finger was pressing upwards, I began to thank him.

“Lou, there’s something I want to say-”

The lights went on allowing me to see his face, in the clear, for the first time.

“Oh. My. God. You’re a thousand years old.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s just that- uhhh- what I meant to say was-

Damn you, darkness.

There, in front of me, was no longer a twenty-something movie star, but rather a man well over the hill, his crow’s feet more prominent than the color of his eyes.

The abundance of veins turned out to be an abundance of loose skin folded one on top of another. The muscular legs, while still impressive for a man of his age, were mostly due in part to water retention. It took all of my strength not to throw up in my mouth.

“I loved the class. I’m going to try and come again.”

“I wish you would,” he said sincerely.

‘Be careful what you wish for’ was the only thing that crossed my mind. After all these years of wishing, I finally got what I deserved. Although, I sure as hell wished it was the giant outdoor trampoline.

But I’ll take what I can get.