...look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair...
Pull into Park, open the battered case. Familiar powdery smell and white curls waft out, filling the dark interior. I slick on white for the first time this year (three reasons a performer doesn't go full time? January, February, March) and contemplate the next few hours.
The agency was no help at all; the client little more.
"You'll just roam around inside Levering Hall during the lunch rush, doing your thing. Something to brighten the students' day."
So no one's expecting me, and will be surprised by a random mime for no particular reason?
"That's about it, yes."
I indulge in the tiny fantasy that one of these students will recognize me from Faire, be pleased to see Mimi. I permit myself to anticipate phoning my teacher, mentor, friend, who writes speeches for the President of the college. We could have lunch or coffee when I finish, even a five-minute chat. Something.
I spend three hours encouraging people to change the shapes of their faces, with curling mouths and crinkled eyes. Expression + gesture + timing = comedy. Sometimes. I am mostly successful, but it is work, amusing these overly serious StudyMeisters. It is work.
My shift over, I phone The Professor: out of his office. (I am little surprised to hear his voice on my answering machine when I return home.) I exit in full regalia, in full character. Someone has chalked a crude hopscotch on the dignified red brick walk. I engage, and at finish, sketch a quick bow to the sound that greets me from rooftop workmen: applause.
Thank you very much.
At the bar, I banter casually with the tender, who is confused but earnest, which I find engaging. He's not sure if it's a proton or a neutron that's missing from either a hydrogen atom or an oxygen one, but it causes a, a...
That's it! He hands over the two dollar coffee and four dollar beer.
Back at the table, Primarily Decorative is out of her depth. Political "Us vs. Them" rhetoric flies fast and furious. Instead, I focus on c., making time with the chick on the other side of the table, who's grooving on him anyway, so this should be easy. If he wants it. He's getting her number. The tender appears at our table, ostensibly to clear empties and bring refills, which no one needs. Now he's talking about the difference between partially and completely hydrogenated fats, and asking if I live around here. No. At a crucial moment, I am distracted by c., who has made his way to the other side of the table and asks, "Are you doing anything tomorrow?" The tender fades.
I have missed all the good stuff, I think, and leave feeling fairly worthless.
"No use being pretty with THAT crowd," he remarks, unlocking the car door.
No. Too bad it's all I've got.
Ozymandias; Percy Bysshe Shelley