Willkommen

Steve & Mike

Steve P. is in the neighborhood for work – he’s shooting a commercial in LA Saturday and another in Palm Springs Monday and Tuesday. His boss flew him out two days early to basically have fun in California. He lands Thursday afternoon. I have off, Mike actually has off, so we obviously meet up. Take a walk on the boardwalk and stop in Larry’s for a beer. Not me, I’m still not drinking. Steve and Mike order their drinks and then the bartender looks at me. I must have a pained look on my face. “I’ll get you a water. I know the water face when I see it.” Damn, am I that obvious? They debate having a second beer. If you order another beer I’m going to order one. “OK, we’re leaving.” Mike is looking out. We go to Father’s Office for dinner – burgers, of course. And I cave, people. I lasted five days. I can’t be out like this and watch them drink and not participate. Shit. I have two glasses of syrah and let me tell you, they are delicious.

Steve is one of Mike’s friends from high school, so we’re friends by default. I don’t know if I ever talked to Steve in high school, but now that I finally know him he really is a cool kid. After high school, he went to The Art Institute of Philadelphia for film. I remember envying him for that. I actually considered going there for the same thing. It has a great program, apparently, and I knew I wanted to do anything with TV and film; in front of the camera or behind it. What was the first thing I looked for at the school? A field hockey program. They didn’t have one. Decision made.

I many times blamed my parents for me NOT being an actor. That’s ridiculous. I mean, I did Little Theatre when I was… you know, little. We had to audition just to be in it. Could do anything we wanted. I really wanted to lip sync and dance to an Amy Grant song, but I ended up writing my own commercial for a pair of roller skates (I think I wrote it?). Mom has this thing on tape, and it’s so embarrassing to watch. I’m speeding through the whole thing and you can barely understand what I’m saying. Grandma is there watching, and is the first one to tell me to slow down when I’m finished. I can remember feeling hot and sweaty and humiliated – even in front of my family. And yet, I still loved it. I needed a lot of work then – I need a lot of work now – but I still love acting. So I did Little Theater. The first year I was a rabbit in Winnie the Pooh and I was a boy in The Frog Prince. We used to joke like, oh you were Rabbit? Like a main character? No, I was one of many rabbits and I had no lines. The second year was Cinderella and I was a Guest at the Ball. Sarah was my dance partner. I was the girl and she was the boy. (She hated that.) Again, no lines. All I really remember is that during the actual show a person walked around with a platter of grapes and we actually got to eat them on stage – very exciting.

In high school, I always wanted to try out for the school play, but basketball was more important so I never bothered. Besides, those theatre people were in a different world. I didn’t fit in with them. But Cavich did the play every year, and we were close. I was always asking her about it, and junior year she convinced me to try out. We went to the audition together. We had to sing A Christmas Song. First of all, that’s a really difficult song. Second of all, I’m a terrible singer. Might be part of the reason I never auditioned – high school plays are always musicals. At least Lauren and I were on stage together and could sing together. It was fun; liberating. The director was Mrs. Schramm. She was a hard ass, but I got the feeling she liked me, even if I didn’t have a good voice. I was just very excited to be there.

I can’t remember the conversation I had with my basketball coach, Coach Filipek. I wanted to play basketball, and I wanted to do the play. I honestly don’t remember the conversation at all. I probably blacked out because she made me so nervous. All I remember is that she said you can’t play basketball and do the play. Pick one. Again, decision made. Sports always came first.

This carried on into college. All I cared about was field hockey, even though I was finally taking classes in film and production and what I wanted for my “career”. I started to see other people in my major doing extra curricular work in the school radio program and TV program. I was too busy going to practice and the weight room and on my one day off? You better believe I was hanging out with my teammates. Sophomore year I decided to try out for the school musical. Honestly, Allie convinced me, and also said she would try out with me. Allie is a Broadway nerd. She loves Broadway and musicals and she was the lead in her school plays for Christ’s sake. I didn’t want to do it alone, and she promised to do it with me. I forget why she didn’t – school, class, or she just didn’t want the extra load, but I ended up doing it alone. Sophomore year I was basically an extra in The Robber Bridegroom. Even as just a background actor it was a lot of work. We practiced for like four hours five nights a week.

Tommy and Mike M. at Cabaret 2005

Junior year was Cabaret. I auditioned to be a Kit Kat girl, which is basically a sexy nightclub dancer. I think they picked like 12 girls, and there were more than 30 of us auditioning. I was so nervous and determined to get the part. I’m not a dancer and I’m not a singer, but I’m committed. The dance instructor was the same instructor for the previous year on Robber Bridegroom. She knew me and what kind of worker I was. That’s the only reason I was cast. College kids are flaky, I guess, and I wasn’t like that. I was dependable, and I got the part. Immediately, I was worried about my weight. She told us we might be wearing a two-piece on stage, and wouldn’t get our costume until two weeks before the first show. There was no way I would wear a two-piece unless I was skinny. So I got skinny. Those dance practices we’d have were in a room with walls made of mirrors. I was constantly looking at myself and the other girls. They were girly girls. For one of the dances, we put the lead – Sally Bowles – in a prep – something I actually knew from cheerleading. The dance instructor put me as one of the two people as the base. I’ll never forget what she said – “Lindsay is a beast”. She meant it as a compliment. I was the only athlete in the play – but it made me feel embarrassed. I’m a beast. I’m huge. I continued to drop weight.

Getting ready for the show with Angela

Was I obsessed with my weight? Yes (Am I still? Yes). When we got our costumes, I was actually given a one-piece. I was still so happy even though I was thinner than I’d ever been. My schedule was insane then. It was Spring, so we had practice three days a week, and we were in the weight room the other two days. Then I was dancing and singing every night for about four hours. Let’s not forget a full work load and acing every class. I had a 4.0 GPA at this point. I was OCD to the max.

At this point I was still battling with my love for field hockey and my desire to act. I still regretted not being more involved in the acting world growing up. It wasn’t until senior year that I finally realized it: playing sports my whole life has pretty much made me the person I am. Athletes had this one credit class we could take. I forget what it was called, but we learned all about our resume and interviewing for jobs (wait, you mean a class that actually teaches you something about the real world?). It was the most important class I took, and it made me realize how prepared we – athletes – were to take on the world. I’m confident, I work well with others, I know how to be a team player and work in groups, etc. It’s crazy how much sports prepares you for life. I finally started to be proud of myself as an athlete. I got my class ring that year, and engraved “No Regrets” on the inside. It’s been my motto ever since. I do a lot of stupid, stupid things. I make many dumb decisions. But all my mistakes make me a better person, so I have no regrets. I certainly don’t blame my parents anymore. Mom put me in Little Theatre. She asked me if I wanted to transfer to a vo-tech high school to focus on acting and not go to West Deptford. She knew how much I wanted to act, but I wanted to play sports more, and be with all my friends. It was and always has been my decision. No regrets.

*B. Fosse

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