Granny and the Wolf

I take a breather from the beautiful but stuffy black box that is our rehearsal hall and walk out the door with my hot thick floor length flannel nightie hiked over my knees and my grandma nightcap and grey braid snug and low on my brow as I check my phone for messages. It’s wonderful working at Boca del Lupo at 1422 because of the great people and cool theatrics, but also because it’s right across the street. I can boil my own kettle and cuddle the cat. And I also go home for snacks because this lovely gang brings in some strange treats. I’m the only person in the cast who isn’t the least bit Asian. Yesterday Raugi passed around some kind of dried orange peel cube that tasted like compost…Ming is drinking a ginger garlic tea…and today…Leslie brings in Oreo cookies! Oh no – wait. They are matcha Oreo cookies…

Young beautiful Milton is doing some kind of acrobatic sit up exercise while Sherry and the girls talk about still being able to wear their high school t-shirts…high school?! That was twenty eight years ago for me. I do not still have the t-shirt for the Red Deer Camille J Le Rouge Cougars. Nope. In fact, even the school doesn’t exist anymore.

IMG_2532As I walk out the door, I pass a handsome “Electric” who comes down from the office upstairs, Jon Young. He chuckles in all his inherent coolness as I pass in all my greying glory: “I love you in this. I love this so much.” He teases me about my cap. The last show I did with him, I was the blonde bomb shell, Estelle, my face blown up on the sides of busses in San Francisco. UnknownNow, I’m Granny, getting vomited up by the big bad wolf for the Children’s Festival. This is the difference between an actress the age of forty and an actress the age of forty five. The good news is: I seem to be successfully making the transition from bomb shell to funny old hag. In our business, there is very little in-between, and not every woman survives the shift.i-016

While on break I decide to try on my wedding dress. Yes, I have it already. A few years ago, I was shooting an Indy film that didn’t have a costume designer. I was playing a woman of decent means who was getting married. There was no wedding dress lined up. I wasn’t about to wear my old one and no rental was arranged. I was asked to “find something” in a few hours, while shopping in an unfamiliar city with my own money. Desperate measures resulted in me finding a gorgeous wedding dress 70% off at Saks, but it was still $850.00 and I couldn’t take it back. So, I bought it, telling myself, “Someday I’ll get married again and this is what I’ll wear.”

I slip out of my nightie and pull the floaty white chiffon out of its plastic. Oh it’s so beautiful, all elegant Greta Garbo. I’m so glad I bought it. One less thing to think about. And I feel lovely in it. I slip it over my head and …what…? What?! I attempt to close the zipper on the back and…it won’t budge and…oh my God! I turn around to see what the problem is and my breasts are bulging out and my back is still a wide exposed triangle of skin. Is a piece of fabric folded up and caught? Am I actually in the arm instead of the waist? Is this Nora’s dress instead of mine?! No. No. This is the dress. And the dress is currently two sizes too small. Like way way way too small for alterations. I can’t even imagine how it ever got done up in the first place. How did that happen? I thought I was the same size?! For an insane second I am convinced someone has borrowed my dress, shrunk it in the dryer, and stuck it back in its package. Or…somehow it got exchanged at the dry cleaners. I peel it off like a bad smell. I stare at it in my skivvies, still wearing my gramma nightcap and grey braid and black socks. Yup. This is the dress. I still have the devastating Saks bill attached to the hanger.

I flop down on my bed and sigh. Okay. Crap. Granny is now officially on a diet. I really don’t want to be one of “those” brides. I’m quite happy the way I look and so is Fellow. But I am not paying a single dime more on a damn dress and I’m not destroying the gorgeous line of it with some added “fat woman” panel in the back! This isn’t me being vain, it is me being cheap. We are doing renovations on our house and running into things like water damage and outdated pipes and uneven floors. His car blew the clutch and my car has blown the brakes and the rad is iffy. I’m grateful to have a job right now but the reality is, Fellow makes as much in one day as I do in an entire week. So, yeah. The dress is going to fit. I’m not spending any more money on “me”.Photos by Dennis Drenner weddings.dennisdrenner.com

I leap up and think of Milton’s wicked sit ups. No. That would throw my back out, but I can ride my bike the rest of lunch break! I go down to the bike locker, and the same person who shrunk my dress has also punctured my back tire. I go back upstairs and lay down on my bed again. “No, I think I’ll have a nap.” My nap is interrupted by a text from my ex husband who wants me to babysit because he got nominated for a theatre award and I didn’t. It smarts. Admittedly. I text him back, “Congratulations!” And it’s sincere. He deserves it. Then I make myself some tea and call myself a has-been.

I do a couple of cautious push ups. Go granny go. Then I lay on the carpet panting while the cat purrs around my ankles. I do a little “life goal” check in. I ask myself, “Why do I do what I do, again? Should I be thinking about changing careers? am I past my prime?” I chuckle to myself. “No. It’s too fun playing old drunks and hags.”

I decide to take the focus away from myself (usually a good idea) and check up on my beloved Rosebud class students and their post production drafts after the playwrights festival I just held in Alberta. One of the writers has taken the time to send me a personal note. He writes, “I began to see how beautiful humans could be” and “Your influence has changed my life. I am telling you. So own that. I will never forget you.”

Great timing, John. You beautiful human, you. I wipe away a tear.

How generous of him to write to me. And what a good reminder that I am connected to a community who may still need me. Even if I don’t fit into my wedding dress or eat matcha with my cookies.

I put my granny cap back on, and head back into that black box to tell a story about the Big Bad. Granny gets swallowed by the wolf but she emerges again, whole.

PS I’m on CFRO 100.5FM tonight at 9pm talking about upcoming productions, blogging and life in all its glory


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