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what a lot

At the return counter at Home Hardware, while screwing together a bracket I dissembled…blasted useless thing adjusts in three places but not the place I need. I get a phone call telling me I booked my first big film. I am shocked. Middle aged woman with zero union credits gets to play Ciaran Hind’s wife. (he will always be Caesar to me) How did I get that gig?! Everyone and their dog must have auditioned for it. I day dream it is because Ciaran came to see Espresso and being Irish appreciated my use of language and the Irish joke about the big ears  – “You need to put the debit card into the machine, Ma’am, Ma’am?!” Oh yes, right. Brackets.images

So now I wait. Wait for a fitting. Wait for a schedule. Wait for a script.

The teachers are striking. Nora and I and her good friend Alberta toodle down to Britannia pool for a little swim. Alberta says “I hope they go code three so I can have three months off!” I don’t know what code three is…but I know it means freedom to her. Nora’s stitches are out and the wound has sealed. Alberta’s retainer is snuggled into her towel with her adorable little spectacles. They pull on their swimming caps with a smack and a giggle, slide their goggles down their cheeks, pulling down the skin under their eyes all fishy red creepy. They slip on their flippers and slither into the water like two little pale frogs, utterly joyful in all their geekiness.

The afternoon weekday swims are always full of curiosities. There is a huge mountainous red headed woman who has wrapped herself in mats near the hot tub and has fallen fast asleep. She stays there for two hours. A man somewhere on the spectrum sits in the hot tub and undulates his arms, making whirring and barking noises: a pleased response to the water jets. Three little girls sit curled in their suits, watching him, shyly. He doesn’t seem to mind them watching. They don’t seem to mind him whirring. Old men with melted chests, young men unemployed but determined to keep up their figure, a few rutabaga ladies doing their laps, robust life guards in red. Public swim. Everyone feels accepted.

And I would say, everyone feels safe except perhaps one.

A mother as skinny as a crow flaps around the children’s pool so very very high on some kind of drug she is absolutely wearing out her two year old. The two year old seems embarrassed. Nervous. Avoiding her mother’s quick movements in the water. The mother screeches with joy and exuberance, insisting on wrapping herself up in the floating tubes and pretending to be an urchin, laughing wildly. Alone. The little girl blinks and with one finger pushes away a tiny pink barging in the shape of a star fish. “Oh come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, let’s have some REAL fun!”

I panic for a moment but then look up. A shrewd lifeguard is watching them like a hawk: her jet black braid, her strong legs. She will interfere if she has to. Thank God for her and her red shirt.

It would be easy to say I am witnessing the best part of that child and mother’s day. I do want to throw them each a life preserver. But what colour and shape would that be? What would float? A prayer.

Nora and Alberta get on the scale on their way to return the flippers. Alberta is a perfect 69lbs and Nora is about four inches taller but only 64lbs. She is obviously very disappointed and jumps on the scale trying to get “heavier”. I can’t say I remember ever ever ever doing that in my entire life.

I check on the red headed lady, leaning in as I pass, just to make sure she is breathing. She’s fine.

Time to leave. In the shower I can’t help but smile at the little old ladies with their amazing disappeared bums. Rivers of soapy water run down their tender bowed backs and froggy knees. I love them so much. One day I will be one of these. Imagine. I catch Nora sneaking a peek at my figure as I shimmy out of my suit. I suppose thinking the same thing.

I head out to my costume fitting. My character is gauche, blue collar and all the clothes are snug where they really ought not to be. I see. They are making me into a laugh. I am the girlfriend who has let herself go. The costumer is delighted, when I ask “are these jeans supposed to be…unflattering?” She claps, “Oh yes, they’re fabulous. You almost have a camel toe! Perfect!”

Perfect. I will invite my family out to see that.

I chuckle and have to admit she’s right. It’s ideal for the character. And that’s okay. I get to be plenty beautiful on stage, plenty of the time. And isn’t there even a kind of strange beauty to the woman who has made herself vulnerable by wearing ridiculous pants? I drive home with mountainous red heads, disappearing bums, goggle faces, Irish Caesars, old men’s concave chests and hysterically high Moms. What a beautiful frail ridiculous amazing lot we are. What a lot.

 

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