- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
That is, if she can decide what to wish for. There's the rub. Career? Family? Love life? Even a charismatic genie can grant only so many wishes. Or maybe Erin should just ...
Ships from: Torrance, CA
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Ships from: West Valley, UT
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
That is, if she can decide what to wish for. There's the rub. Career? Family? Love life? Even a charismatic genie can grant only so many wishes. Or maybe Erin should just hold on to all those magical chances and think about what might be (instead of seeing just what's under her nose).
Time's running out. Ultimately, it's Erin who must decide how to keep the magic alive—forever.
One. Like every good aspiring actress, I arrived early for my four o'clock audition. I spent the time in the hallway with all the other hopefuls, running through my monologue. Again. For the thousandth time. What was I worried about? I knew my lines cold.
Precisely ten minutes before my time slot, the audition monitor appeared with his clipboard. "Erin Hollister!" he barked, squinting at his computer printout and refusing to look any of us aspiring stars in the eye. I leaped forward with a professional smile, handing him a pristine folder that contained my head shot and résumé. He took it without a word and disappeared into the sanctified privacy of the audition room.
I bowed my head and shook out my hands, trying to relieve the tension that had crept across my shoulders and down my arms. I could do this. I could read for a role in David Mamet's newest Broadway play. I could impress the casting director with my raw power, my vigorous style, my willingness to grapple with thorny texts and thornier social messages.
The door to the audition room opened, and the monitor barked out my name again. Quickly, before he could even notice, I crossed the fingers of both hands and muttered, "Please, just this once." I wasn't quite certain who or what I muttered to, but I'd had the habit of wishing, ever since I was a little girl.
The silly ritual centered me, settled me into place. I pasted a professional smile on my lips before I said, "Thank you," to the monitor. I preceded him into the space, knowing enough not to offer my hand. If he wanted to shake hands, he'd extend his first.
Inside the room, three people sat on chairs, gazing at me with bored expressions. I forced myself to smile as I took two precise steps forward. I knew this audition room well; I'd read for roles here at least a half dozen times before. A half dozen unsuccessful times before.
I hated this room. It was tiny, apparently carved out of the much larger dance studio next door, a sort of architectural afterthought. The wall to my right was covered with mirrors, and a ballet barre bisected my reflected waist. In the past, I'd described this room as the "Check Your Teeth" audition venue—every single person in those chairs would instantly be able to spot a stray fleck of spinach across the cramped space. Or catch a whiff of garlic, for that matter.
I threw back my shoulders. I'd fortified myself with a Wint-O-Green Life Saver in the hallway, for I was wise in the way of auditions. Knowing that I had a total of three minutes to impress the watching trio, I said, "My name is Erin Hollister, and my monologue is from The End of My So-Called Affair by Jeanine Thompson Walker." I took a deep breath, trying to ignore my own ref lected image as it loomed in my peripheral vision. I began: "'I can't take it anymore!'"
The casting director waved her hand dismissively. "That's enough. Thanks for coming in."
Thanks for coming in?
Thanks for nothing.
"Thanks for coming in" was the universal kiss of audition death. The supposed politeness meant that they'd sized me up from my head shot, already made a decision before I even walked through the door. I wasn't the "type" they were looking for. There was no room in their show for straight blond hair, for blue eyes, for a fresh, Middle America–wholesome actress. I wasn't worth three minutes of their time.
"Thank you," I said, pasting an automatic smile across my lips. New York might be the largest city in America, but it was still too small to alienate a single casting professional. I didn't wait for them to nod, or to shrug, or to grimace, or to do whatever they would do to prove that they were Much Too Busy to pay further attention to me.
Two. (Remember those bad things, coming in threes?)
I tugged on my light jacket—just right for late May in New York City—as I ducked out of the Equity Audition Center, glancing dispiritedly at my watch. I was late for my Survival Job, the employment that gave me money for food, shelter and general life expenses while I waited for my big break onstage. Or my medium-size break. Or even a little one—who was I to complain?
Concerned Caterers had been a godsend for the three years I'd been trying to break into New York theater. I could schedule my catering gigs around auditions; I would even be able to remove myself from the schedule for a few weeks if I ever landed a real role.
When I landed a real role, I remonstrated with myself firmly.
I slipped into my pavement-eating New York stride, doing my best to ignore a blossoming headache as I dug my cell phone out of my cavernous tote bag. I punched a single button and waited for Sam to pick up.
Ring. Ring. I was going to get his voice mail. Ring.
"Hey, babe," he said, just as I was preparing to leave my sad little message. He sounded rushed.
I heard him suck air between his teeth. He'd obviously parsed my tone. That was the advantage of dating a guy for two years, living with him for nearly ten months. "I'm sorry," he said. "I know how much you wanted that role."
"Yeah—" I said, but he interrupted.
"Can I put you on hold? Opposing counsel's on the other line. I think we're going to settle the Lindstrom case today."
"Go," I said. "I'll see you tonight." He clicked off without saying goodbye, obviously eager not to let his opponent's feet grow cold.
I shoved my phone back into my bag, trying not to take the dismissal personally. Sam had been working on the Lindstrom case forever. Settling that monstrous litigation was a big deal, especially for a guy who was up for partner at the end of the year.
It wasn't like I had tons of time to talk, anyway. I was a block away from the Van Bleeker Mansion, where the Knickerbocker Alliance was holding its annual awards dinner. I glanced at my watch again. Half an hour late. I'd hoped for an earlier audition slot but had taken the only time open for a nonunion actress.
Determined to do a perfect job to make up for my tardiness, I bounded up the mansion steps. With the experience of a trained caterer, I made my way to the service area of the gigantic home. Sure enough, a white-draped card table crouched in the hall outside the kitchen. A swag of fabric was clipped to its front, proudly proclaiming: Concerned Caterers—Your Happiness Is Our Concern. A clipboard was centered precisely on the white square of cloth.
Jack Skellar was managing the event. Jack Skellar, who had disliked me since he joined Concerned as a supervisor, six months before. Jack Skellar, who stood in the kitchen doorway, glaring at his watch. Jack Skellar, whose main purpose in life seemed to be finding catering jobs for ever y single one of his dozens of cousins. He had already fired at least three friends of mine for minor violations of Concerned's policies, replacing each hardworking actor with a rat-faced relative who was immune from his nit-picking supervision.
Jack pointed at the clipboard and enunciated, "Hol-lis-ter."
Great. He'd be gunning for me all night long.
"I am so sorry," I said, loading all of my acting skill into my apology. "I had an audition—"
"Yeah, yeah," he said. "Hurr y up, Hollister. Grab your shirt and get into the dining room—they're still arranging flowers for the centerpieces."
As I scrawled my name on the clipboard, along with the shamed admission of my late check-in time, Jack tugged a cardboard box from beneath the white tablecloth. Inside was a tangle of chartreuse and orange, a color combination so atrocious that my eyes started to cross.
"You have got to be kidding," I said.
Concerned Caterers occupied the elite top tier of Manhattan catering. One of the gimmicks that set us apart from the riffraff was a unique "costume" created for each engagement.
I got to keep my costume at the end of every gig—one of the so-called perks of working for the very best.
Alas, Concerned's idea of a costume was the cheapest grade of T-shirt that money could buy. The company scooped them up by the gross (and I do mean gross!), dyeing them for each individual job. In theory, the colors matched something about the client, bringing together a variety of unique qualities into a single tasteful statement.
Jack plucked one shirt out of the tangle, shaking out wrinkles with a violent flick of his wrists. Shockingly, the fluores-cent green and orange wasn't the worst thing about the shirt. A glittery red lion was stamped across the front of the tee, its claws raised up like it belonged on some fancy coat of arms.
My not-so-beloved employer had really outdone itself this time.
"Are you serious?" I asked.
"The chartreuse is from jenever." I must have looked as confused as I felt, because Jack sighed in exasperation. "Je-never," he repeated. "Dutch gin. There's some brand that's packaged with a chartreuse label. We're serving it in the parlor for cocktail hour."
"And orange?" I studied the horrific garment as if it might somehow come to life.
"William, Prince of." He glared at me as I pondered my scant knowledge of Dutch history. "And before you ask, the lion is part of the Knickerbocker Alliance coat of arms. Let's go, Hollister. We haven't got all night!" Jack thrust the hideous shirt into my unwilling hands.
With a twist of nausea, I saw the size label. Small. I'd been with Concerned for long enough to know that the T-shirt wholesaler gave us deep discounts on size small. And their smalls were really small. All of the comfortable shirts designed to fit normal human beings with breasts had been snatched up by my goody-two-shoes coworkers who had arrived early. Or at least on time. Or, to be more accurate, not a full half hour late.
I sighed and took the hint from Jack's imperious finger, heading down the hallway toward the staff restroom. As expected, the shirt was tight enough that my rather ordinary assets looked like some porn star's inflated balloons. Worse, the sleeves cut into my armpits. I stretched my arms above my head, trying to loosen the damn thing, even a little. My back protested the movement with a sharp twinge that settled into a dull ache, making me wonder if I was coming down with something.
No time for speculation, though. I hurried out to the dining room.
The curious might ask, What flowers go with chartreuse and orange? The answer was fake ones. Lots and lots of fake, silk chrysanthemums, dyed to match Concerned Catering's unholy version of the Knickerbocker Alliance coat of arms.
Within an hour, the banquet hall was decked out completely. Fake flowers, golden charger plates at every seat (adding to the visual, um, flair), white serving plates, wine glasses, water glasses, an entire battalion of silverware Before I could admire our collective handiwork, or at least finish blinking away stars from the visual clutter, Jack pounced.
"Coatroom, Hollister," he commanded.
I gritted my teeth as I obeyed. I hated coatroom duty. Far away from the camaraderie of the kitchen crew, the coatroom was lonely. And boring. And cold. Every time the door to the street opened, a blast of unseasonably chilly air gusted across the marble foyer. My thin tie-dyed tee didn't provide a whole lot of protection.
I couldn't believe the number of women who wore fur coats into the mansion. Fur! In May! I wasn't a big fan of wearing dead animals at any time, but the coats seemed completely over the top for a spring night, no matter how unusual the low temperatures. Oh, well. This would likely be the last cold snap of the year for mink owners to impress their friends, at least before the fall show-off season began.
After a long pause in arrivals, when I thought I might be through with my lonely coatroom mission, four women swept through the mahogany door at the same time. They gushed to greet one another with air kisses and exclamations of undying friendship. Or undying gossip. Whatever.
Two wore severe black gowns, as if they were attending a formal funeral. One sported cascades of pearls spilled across far too much décolletage. The fourth was the belle of this fashion-disaster ball. She had obviously received the William Prince Of memo—she wore a shocking orange gown, a shimmering garment that cascaded from her ample bosom to her dyed-to-match slippered toes. As if she feared being overlooked, she had settled a diamond-studded tiara on top of her gray-streaked updo.
Pearl Woman thrust her mink into my hands at the same time that Orange Tiara loaded me down with a silver fox. The coats weighed more than I did. The furs slipped against each other, and I struggled to balance both of them, but the fox slithered down to the ground.
Orange Tiara shrieked as if I'd stabbed her.
Before I could stammer out an apology, Jack glided across the foyer. I realized that he must have been watching me from the hallway, waiting for me to screw up so that yet another Skellar relative could become a proud Concerned Catering employee.
"I am terribly sorry, madam," Jack murmured, scooping up the offended coat in one arm as he offered the enraged matron support with the other. "That clumsy girl should have paid more attention. Please, accept my apologies and send the cleaning bill to Concerned Caterers." He produced a business card out of a breast pocket, all the while muttering more oily platitudes. I stared at the spotless f loor in front of me, furious with myself for initiating the debacle, but defensively positive that the fur had not been the slightest bit damaged.
As Orange Tiara finally sailed into the parlor, Jack turned to me and hissed, "Watch it, Hollister."
I swallowed my frustration and turned back to wait for more latecomers. Once Jack was gone, I tried to distract myself from the freezing foyer temperatures by speculating on the menu.
It would be something Dutch, I was sure, in honor of New Amsterdam and the original Knickerbockers. Maybe the appetizer was rich Gouda cheese, liberated from its red wax wrapper and melted over crusty bread. I wasn't usually a big fan of cheese, but the thought of that creamy goodness, toasty hot from the oven That was comfort food. That could make anyone forget a lousy audition, forget a freezing coatroom. I swallowed hard, suddenly ravenous.
I waited the requisite half hour after the last arrivals, making sure that no other Alliance matrons would need my coat-slinging services. Then, without giving Jack a chance to scold me, I scurried back to the kitchen to help with whatever food remained to be served.
Posted September 6, 2010
Wannabe actress Erin Hollister affirms her belief that bad things come in three. First she was rejected for a part in a Mamet play as she was the wrong body type. Second her time at the Equity Audition Center made her late for her survival job at Concerned Caters and she performs poorly so is fired. Finally she thinks she is pregnant, but when she tells her significant other, he accuses her of irresponsibility before dumping her.
Her friend Becca (see When Good Wishes Go Bad) and her significant other Ryan are going to Africa for a year so she asks Erin to stay in her condo at not cost while she is overseas. Inside the condo, Erin finds a crate with her name on it that she assumes Becca left her. She opens the crate to find an old tarnished brass lantern. When she cleans it with a rag, a man appears in a police uniform out of nowhere. He says his name is Teel and he gives her the standard genie contract in which he fulfills her wishes in exchange for free time outside the lamp, but she must choose rather quickly before the offer expires.
This is an amusing yet poignant romantic urban fantasy as Erin struggles with what to wish for as she learns what matters in life. The key to this strong As You Wish entry (see How Not To Make A Wish) is the relationships between Erin and others. First there is caring for her sister and nephew (living in New Brunswick) as her brother-law is a soldier in the Middle East Theater of Operations, and second is her concern and attraction to Teel once she makes her wish. Readers will appreciate the warm humorous To Wish Or Not To Wish that is the question facing Erin.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 14, 2012
Posted March 2, 2012
No text was provided for this review.
Posted January 20, 2011
No text was provided for this review.
Posted September 30, 2010
No text was provided for this review.