Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pride and Princesses Teenage Aliens chapter 8

Chapter 8

Teenage Aliens

    ‘Definitely, definitely do not text him first. He has to make the effort and text you. It says so here, in...I believe this one’s called, The Rules of Young Adult Romance,’ I advised.

    We were sitting on banana lounges in the water, swerving Wednesday around in her tyre, trying to explain to her the things about dating no one ever taught us.

   ‘Of course you have to actually get a date,’ Mouche added helpfully, straightening Wednesday’s sunglasses.

    That’s when I got a text that changed my day and interrupted the boy-rating diaries and our potential date-planning for at least a few hours.

    ‘Gotta move it Mouche – get off the couch potato zone and bring it...forget about school plays, I’m going professional.’

     It was Thom, my theatrical agent. He used to run an agency called Thom’s Kidz but now it’s just called Thomz Starz since all his ‘kids’ are mostly teenagers (except Wednesday).

    ‘You mean?

    ‘You betcha...’

    And in the space of an hour I’m preparing to ace my third professional audition. This time it’s a recall (which means instead of a thousand other teenage girls it’s between me and twenty others) for a part in the low-budget film, Teen Alien. 

    So I’m pulling on my best skinny jeans and painting on tooth whitener for the recall for a teen horror flick. Mouche is helping me find a suitable outfit.

    I am pretty excited. I’ve forgotten all about Mark and the Princesses and school play auditions. Instead, I’m all fired up about driving into LA with Mouche. This will be the first time we drive to an audition without a chaperone. And I’m not excited just because I think I might get the part, or because going to Century City will be an excuse to gaze longingly at the surrounding movie studios, or even because I get to play someone else outside my comfort zone. No, I’m excited because I’m definitely on course for implementing the first of our dating strategies – meeting up with an older man (an eighteen-year-old called Matt). We used to take drama class together on Saturdays. I heard he is interning as assistant to the director on this film. He was a PA student at Sunrise High a few years ago. Now he goes to UCLA.

    Mouche offered to drive me to the Alien movie recall and do some window shopping before meeting me for lunch at Century City. ‘What are best friends for?’ she’d asked. ‘Besides, it all goes in the diary...’

    Wednesday and Mrs Mouche were sleeping in. Wednesday was curled up at the foot of Mrs Mouche’s bed as her older daughter tiptoed out of the house that morning. They made a pretty picture. 

    I had stayed over but we hadn’t had much sleep because we were both extremely excited. Thom had tried to get Mouche to audition as well, but as she explained to him, ‘I’m sorry, no can do. I have decided to concentrate on school. Acting is not my forte anymore, Thom. I want to get my scholarship to NYU. Besides, I think I prefer real life.’

    Perhaps Mouche had a point and it certainly helps to have a supportive friend, not just a competitive one. I’m not sure if the desire for the good fortune of a friend can outweigh envy, but I’m working on it. I’d almost forgotten about Mark Knightly and his hotness when Jet texted just before we left for Century City:  Mark is coming 2. Text address pick u both up @ 8pm next Saturday night. Jet. PS. Are you going to be in Santa Monica this afternoon? Wanna hook up with us?

     ‘How exciting,’ I said.

     ‘Mmm...it says in Mrs Jones’ Guide that, ‘a boy should always make specific plans not vague notions about what he wants to do with you, and where he wants to take you...’ Mouche replied. 

     ‘Even so, I can hardly breathe. Do you think this means they like us?’

     ‘Of course. But I think they could have been more specific...’

     ‘Well maybe they need direction...’

     Never make it easy for them...Mrs Jones @ p.29’

     ‘Can you quit it with the Mrs Jones stuff for now? You should text them back and make plans for us. I can hardly think straight.’

     ‘That...is not cool. They can text us when they’ve thought of something. I don’t want to just hang out and let them think we are available anytime they suggest. Now, focus on your audition and let me do the planning...’ Mouche said. ‘Pretend I’m your stage mom,’ she added.

     ‘Okay. Besides, it’s not as if it’s really my date, since Jet only officially asked you. I’m there as a social photographer and Mark, well, who knows why he’s coming since he’s scarcely bothered to speak to anyone at school all week. But I’m sure we could make time to see them this afternoon...’

    ‘Okay, I will encourage them to suggest a proper date. Swimming might be good.’

    ‘That’d be...fun.’

    ‘You know, Mark did at least speak to both of us at school this week but who knows, maybe he’s gay for Jet?’

    Mouche started laughing. My friend has a very unique view of traditional relationships these days.

    ‘I’m just kidding. He’s so obviously straight. He could barely read the lines for Rocco when Mr Sparks made him stand in for Peter. He’s so clearly not artistic.’ 

    We had arrived early for the movie recall and driven to Venice Beach to watch the waves lap onto the sand. Our families had visited this beachside suburb often when we were little and we had fond memories of it.

   ‘Just to change the subject, I totally want to buy a house here, overlooking the ocean, when I’m famous,’ I mused.

    ‘Definitely. We can live next door to each other. I’ll be your manager and do all your legals, and when you’re past it we can represent Wednesday and live off the proceeds.’

   ‘I’m thinking we should get started on that one. She’s very precocious already...’

Mouche laughed and said, ‘I’m just kidding...’

    ‘Well, if I don’t get this recall, I’m going to concentrate on school and our treasure hunt and saving for New York, so maybe we could be Wednesday’s stage mothers...after all, our own mothers are not exactly interested in show business.’

   ‘And maybe that’s a good thing,’ Mouche added. ‘I mean, at least we can never accuse them of trying to exploit us.’

    The ocean looked really beautiful early in the morning. Venice was not quite as seedy as the boulevard made it look at sunset when all the stalls and skate boarders and card sharks and markets had packed up for the day. When we came here with Trish and Mrs Mouche last year, a little girl came up and asked me if I was on some television show. I was so flattered I even signed an autograph, although Mouche disapproved. I didn’t want to disappoint my adoring public by telling the truth.

    ‘You’re seriously delusional Pheebs,’ Mouche said.

    ‘No I’m not. I just have a good imagination.’

   ‘I think that’s why we’re friends,’ Mouche said. ‘I’m definitely the more pragmatic one.’

    ‘It’s nearly 10am,’ I announced, glancing at my sides.

    ‘Think of me doing research as I go shopping.’


    The play is the thing, Phoebe.’


    ‘Shakespeare wrote it, I’m saying it. Now break it and I’ll meet you at the sushi bar before lunch with news...then we can talk.’ 

    ‘Text them back...’

     ‘I’m texting them now..’

      ‘Okay. Gotta motor...’ We parted with an air kiss on both cheeks which is very theatrical and exactly what women in France and England do all the time.

     I took the elevator to the casting office, not far from the Century City shops. When I arrived I was surprised to see Teegan’s older sister, Missy, seated at the reception desk.   


    ‘Here,’ I said as Missy huffed with a superior tone and told me to take a seat in the waiting room. I said, ‘merci,’ in keeping with my French theme for the day and started to fill out my form.  My wrist foils were scratching my skin as I wrote. Then I anxiously chewed my bottom lip and realized my plumping gloss needed replenishing.

     I applied some extra shine. Then I took some deep breaths, very slowly. I didn’t really have my mind on the job. I was daydreaming about Mark and holidays and thinking about Mouche’s plan and the play, even though I said I wouldn’t. 

     ‘Phoebe Harris?’ Missy enquired, pretending she’d never met me, bringing me back to earth.

     ‘Yes,’ I said pleasantly.

     ‘You may go in now, we’re ready for you.’ 

     I was slightly disconcerted that Missy would be sitting in on my audition. With all of these thoughts going through my mind, added to the fact that I was wearing extra high platform ‘alien’ boots, it is not surprising I tripped and fell onto the carpet upon entering the room.

    And who should be there to help me up? None other than potential date number one: Matt. Things were looking up. Matt smiled sweetly. His hair was way longer than the fashion of this season might dictate but he wore casual board shorts which I found endearing. Already I had visions of making him my little surfer dude.

     An audition is perhaps not the best place to meet a potential date but I didn’t want to limit my options to the juniors of Sunrise just yet.  I mean, Mark hardly seemed like a sure thing. I know I’m too young for Matt but he is seriously yummy and thinks I’m eighteen and has great hair and nice eyes. Plus, Mouche encouraged me and Thom knows him from some classes they did together at UCLA.

    ‘Hot car,’ Mouche had noted.

     Not that cars and stuff matter but they might count if they become treasures to hunt and gather.   

     Teegan’s older sister gives me a deceptively sweet smile. She gestures to the director and the camera operator all sitting in the room. In front of me, beyond the audition panel, lies a one eighty degree window overlooking the sprawling maze of highways, concrete and far away movie star houses that make up Los Angeles.


   ‘Yes, that’s me.’

    The casting agent looks at me in disbelief as I give her a smile and whisper, ‘stage name.’

    ‘So, it’s really Phoebe...Harris?

   Great, my imagination is working overtime today. I’m staring out the window thinking of Europe and France and England and exotic castles and Mark Knightly...when I should be thinking of Matt and outer space teenage aliens and a third dimension. Silver, think silver foil Mouche warned me when I ran my lines last night in the kitchen.

    ‘Hey, haven’t we met before?’ Matt asks with a very cute smile plastered on his face. He has brown hair and brown eyes and adorable man-sneakers on.

    ‘I think so,’ I say.

     He smiles again in return. He’s very responsive. It’s like a smiling competition. He’s a serious honey but let’s face it, an older man is quite a challenge. He’s passably cute and I am so pretending to be eighteen, and I think this list of requirements for New York has some merit, particularly when I see he’s even flashing a silver pen. I feel a little guilty for sounding materialistic and more interested in our dating game than my career but that pen is suddenly reflecting light into my eyes.

    ‘Okay, are you ready...Phoebe?’ the director asks. ‘Okay...action.’

     I say my lines to Matt who is off camera and pretending to be the other teenage alien. Something beeps. The camera stops. Someone has forgotten to turn off their cell...it’s Teegan’s sister, Missy, creating the interruption, another big surprise. I feel like going all Christian Bale on her but I don’t think I’d win any brownie points for doing that. 

    ‘So, can we try it again,’ the director, who is wearing older man sandals (let’s just call them mandals) and a shaggy haircut, says.

    ‘Um...Phoebe, did you hear the director? Would you mind trying that scene again?’ Teegan’s older sister spoke loudly, as if I couldn’t hear her.

    ‘Oh, of course.’

    ‘And can you remember...she’s a teenager, and...I need you to look a little...more alien...remember, she’s just been defending herself against another species...’ the director added.       

    ‘Sure... right.’ I run my hands over my Princess Leia hair and stretch my fingers.

    The director is a little uptight, that’s for sure. Mouche would know how to handle a professional film audition better than me, but I’m doing my best.

     Me? I’m more of a belter than a contemplator of dialogue.

    ‘And this time,’ the director says as I find my mark, ‘try to be a little less sophisticated, remember to play her as a young teenager.’

    Upping the creep factor again.


    ‘Cos you’re, like, what? Sixteen?’

    ‘Eighteen?’ I hesitated, wondering if I should pretend to be more mature. .

     Before I get the chance to answer, someone whispers, ‘I thought she was younger.’

    Then Matt hushes everyone and I notice him wink at the casting guy.

     He’s totally gay. Of course, I should have remembered, he was a dance major. I realize I have no chance and the camera begins to record my jaw dropping.

     This image is forever captured in still format.

     I begin to say my lines.

    ‘Stop, stop,’ the director says.

    I look up, a little shell shocked, wondering if I could ever stand all the lame interruptions of film acting, when the director adds, ‘and remember...’

    ‘What?’ I whisper back, mirroring his manner.

     ‘She’s an alien. So, play her like an alien...we need to see that.’

     ‘Okay,’ I say, very confidently, smoothing my Princess Leia whirls and honing my spaced-out gaze, and putting my forefingers above my ears to give me antennae, making sure not to smile as Teegan’s spiteful older sister laughs out loud.


     ‘That was great,’ the casting agent says as if it wasn’t.

     ‘Oh, wait,’ the director says, ‘we want a picture of you before you leave. Oh and sweetie, can you wipe off all the make-up...’

     I’ve done enough of these to know they’re supposed to take the photograph at the beginning. Can you believe how tacky this industry is? I spent ages getting the right 10x8s for my agent Thom, then these peeps take the entire image away in a minute with the most ‘natural’, digital picture they can muster. That’s showbiz.

     ‘Sure,’ I smile my all-American girl smile. Really, Mouche should be doing this, not me. I’m much more of a stage actress than a film actress. With the camera in my face I feel like an imposter. 

     ‘You blew it,’ Mouche would say when I told her what I did next. 

     ‘They took the picture of me on the way out and I turned to the director with my cell and said, ‘you know what, I think I’ll just take one...snap...of you too.’ Thanks for the memories... Everyone looked seriously surprised.’

      ‘I’m going to write this up in the guide and even if I don’t get the part, we did get a prize.’ I said, waving the cell image to a waiting Mouche. ‘See, I’m already becoming a lot more pro-active with the dating game...’

       I remembered the casting form I hadn’t finished filling out and ran back to the office. Then I thought of the first item on our list.    

     ‘Do you think I could borrow your pen?’ I asked Matt, who was ‘working’ on the computer at the front desk.

     ‘You know what?’ Matt said, ‘why don’t you just keep it? I got it for free anyway.’

      Item number one: the pen.

      Did that count as a date?