A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Getting Paid Not To Eat

Yesterday I was in a movie...and today I was in a TV show: another episode of "Brotherhood," the Showtime series. I was staying at friend M's lake house, because it was closer to the movie set in Providence, when I got the call to go in for "Brotherhood." The good news was, they wanted both of us. The bad news was, I didn't have the right wardrobe for the shoot.

"Brotherhood" is about (fictitious) politics and organized crime in Providence, so many of the scenes are set in expensive bars and restaurants. We were told to dress for an upscale lunch: suits preferably. Unfortunately, all I had were wardrobe choices from 1986, brought along for the wedding scene in "27 Dresses." Two deep teal outfits with big shoulders, a flowing scarlet chiffon number, and a spangly silver top with black silk pants. Fortunately, M had closets full of stuff and was willing to share.

I chose an olive green jacket and a lavender shell. Wardrobe was very satisfied with the outfit. Olive green is the color of choice for the background extra. White is the big no-no; it hogs the screen. Black is small doses is okay. Bright colors, big prints, and logos are out. Soft autumn shades look best onscreen and don't detract from the principal talent.

We reported to holding and had a sumptuous breakfast. Craft services was dishing out Belgian waffles, ham steaks, eggs, home fries, and so on; every kind of coffee from Dunkin Donuts in a box to espresso was offered; and a whole room was devoted to a California-style spread: yogurt, granola, muffins, and fresh fruits and vegetables (pineapple, carrots, ginger, oranges) you could juice yourself.

More food on the set, but this stuff, although real, was not for eating. We were seated at tables in the sumptuous Federal Reserve Restaurant, an insanely lavish former bank with coffered ceilings, stained glass windows, and a 60-foot marble bar. Tantalizing courses were set before us, some artfully arranged as if in mid-meal. Half-full glasses of wine, petits four with bites taken out, rolls broken in half with crumbs on the plate. My dining partner and I got beautifully presented mesclun salads and brimming Cokes.

Take after take, we brought forks to our mouths and put them down again, pretended to chew, pretended to sip our Cokes, pantomimed conversation and gestures. Halfway through each take, a "waiter" strolled over to our table and inquired--in pantomome--if everything was all right. Take after take, I gave him a thumbs-up and an airy wave.

Talk about feeling stupid! But the surroundings were gorgeous, we were getting paid, and we had a catered three-course meal waiting for us back in holding. Not a bad job.

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