Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
Tiferet Peterseil is being kept awake by the noisy construction work outside her window! —was my Facebook status at 2:00 AM.
To which the following “Comments” were received:
Friend one: Poor thing!
Friend two: Did you try ear plugs?
Friend three: Hope they stop soon…
Anonymous creepy guy I don’t know: Why don’t you come sleep over ME?
Apparently, he wasn’t joking. Because he proceeded to instant message me, making it clear that the offer was a genuine one.
Not only did this comment seem rude and misplaced – coming from a man (at least I assume he’s a man) I’ve never met—but what’s worse, I felt he had invaded my privacy by extending an x-rated invitation on a public forum for all to see, including my family.
I’m not sure what’s more embarrassing, his crude proposal or my younger sister’s naive response—
Sister #9: Ooh, a pajama party! You’re so lucky, Tiferet! Have fun!
As my “wall” began to stream in comments from people I didn’t know, it suddenly dawned on me that I have about 150 friends on Facebook, 12 of which I’m sure I actually know. I began to wonder:
Why do so many people use Facebook? Is it simply to meet strangers and kill time? Or can it be a useful tool for a budding actress in Tel Aviv?
When I first opened my Facebook account, I did it for the sole purpose of spying on my kid sister’s social life, (97 male friends versus 3 females, including me and my two sisters!). It had never dawned on me that Facebook could be anything more than a ridiculous pastime, a way to goof around, posting pictures of monkeys and tagging them as my brother.
But then the strangest thing happened: people from my past, like old high-school friends, ex-boyfriends and other long forgotten folk I had simply (or purposely) lost touch with over the past 20 years, began sending me “friend” requests.
And it didn’t stop there. What really surprised me, was being contacted by all-too-friendly people I had never known to begin with!
One man, in particular, insists he is my most avid fan and confesses his love for me on a daily basis. I told him I found that creepy, since he’s never met me. This sure backfired. He considered my response “words of encouragement” and now writes me TWICE a day.
But many of the strangers I’ve befriended on Facebook, are actually really nice, and even interesting and exciting. It seems everyone is looking to network.
I was curious about this phenomenon. Could it be there are other purposes for Facebook, besides posting embarrassing photos on my siblings’ “wall”?
“FB is a quick, efficient form of PR,” says my PT (physical therapist), and he’s not talking about the quickest road to recovery. From my bridge-like position on the Yoga ball, focusing on the flow of blood into my brain, I hear his voice muffled in the background. “Not only is it a great way to meet singles and make new friends,” he continues, “but it’s an important and creative marketing tool for almost any company or product.”
My PT, Shai Greenberg, is one of the best in the country, and I can always bank on him to help me feel better. What’s more, besides manipulating my body he manipulates my mind as well, throwing in some useful advice while doing it.
“How does—” I manage to puff out, as my PT places my feet on the ball and has me elevate myself into the air.
Am I up or down? I wonder.
Are those my toes or his? I re-wonder.
“Because of the Internet and the speedy access we have to everything,” he answers (to what I’m not sure), “the only way to succeed is self-promotion. And Facebook provides just that!” he assures me, flipping me on my stomach where he proceeds to put “Part A” (my left leg) over “Part B” (my right shoulder) and “Part C” (my right arm) through “Part A”.
Do I make a wish now?Is all I think of.
“How?” I ask, not exactly sure where my mouth is.
“Okay, for example,” he says, pulling my leg up so I can speak clearly into it. “You’re a wine lover, right?”
I nod with my right foot.
“So, a great way for you to find out about wine-tastings events is to befriend other people who share your common interest. Then while you’re checking out this “friend’s” profile, you see he loves a certain band. Figuring you already have something in common, you check to see if your tastes in music are similar too.”
For reasons I’m unsure of, he’s now balancing a big red ball on the tip of my nose, and insisting I don’t let it fall. He’s nothing if not creative.
Is there an opening for a human seal in the circus?
“So now you’ve been exposed to new music, and the band may have even gained a fan, and it hasn’t cost anyone a dime. So the more “friends” you have, the faster word will spread about people/companies and the quicker products will circulate. That’s PR.”
I sneeze, and the ball bounces off. One leg flips out and I hear a distinct “Pop!”
“Good,” he assures me as he reconnects the errant foot.
“Still hurting?” he asks, noticing I have one leg un-prezeled. He has me flip over, assuring me he has a new method of pain relief.
“But can Facebook actually help promote me as an actress?” I ask, realizing my mouth works.
“Yeah, and here’s how,” he says, ripping some thick tape and pasting it on my back. “In the era of fast information, in order for something to sell, people prefer to be familiar with it. By getting your name out you’re actually encouraging people to seek you out in movies, thereby the demand for casting you will go up.”
He’s busy taping me now. While “The Mummy” was always one of my favorite movies, I never really wanted to star in it. He carefully “wraps up” his work.
“Any self respecting celebrity,” he continues and for some reason reaches for a pen, “or famous TV show or movie actor will have a Facebook page and Tweeter account. Self promotion. Any public, admired figure is expected to be accessible to his/her constituents. That’s how it works today.”
He unpacks me and I manage to pick myself up.
“Are you kidding me?!” I ask, aghast by the strips of bright blue tape zig-zagging across my back.
“It’s a technique called taping.”
“I can see that. But why don’t we just put up a florescent sign saying Mug Me instead. People will see me from a mile away!”
“So wear something with a back to it. Just be sure not to take it off for a few days.”
“A few days?! But how will I go swimming? EVERYONE will see this!” I reply, leaning into the mirror to take a closer look.
“It’ll be worth it. I really think the taping will help you feel better.”
“Okay,” I say, unconvinced. “But that doesn’t explain why you signed your name and wrote both your office number and your cell on the tape.”
“That, my dear,” he says proudly, “is good PR.”
Since I couldn’t go swimming for a while, I did some research to test out my physical therapist’s theory. Sure enough, most TV shows tweet to their fan base regularly. I’ve just joined Steven Spielberg’s group, and couldn’t believe how simple it was to send Tom Cruise a friendship request (although he seems to be taking his time accepting).
While I’m doing all this, I get an instant message from my most avid (rabid?), fan.
Anonymous creepy guy: I sent you flowers, hope they smell wonderful.
You won’t give me you’re address, so they’re virtual.
And right now, I’m sending you a big hug and kiss.
Good night, beautiful.
As usual, I log off without answering Mr. Creepy, which obviously doesn’t seem to bother him, since I continue to receive his daily blessings and “gifts”. Apparently he’s perfectly content with unrequited love – and a non-response.
I was thinking of de-friending him, but I’m trying to be a positive example for Tom Cruise (who’s still playing hard to get). So I guess I’ll live with getting hugs and kisses from Mr. Creepy every night—as long as they’re virtual.
Since I don’t have blue-colored tape to stick on people, I intend to PR myself on Facebook. I even have a fan page. (Hey, if it’s good enough for Spielberg…)
So go ahead, (Tom, make my day!)
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November 25, 2009 | 11:13 am
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
When I woke up Monday morning coughing, sneezing and with the general feeling that a truck hit me, reversed, and ran me over again – my first thought was: Uh-oh, I’m screwed. I had an audition in an hour that required I be in tip-top shape. I scrambled out of bed and brushed my teeth while repeating the mantra: “I’m not sick….I’m not sick.”
No one likes to be sick. No one can really afford to get sick. But as far as I know, there are only three professions where no matter how sick you are, as long as you’re conscious, it’s “business as usual”:
Being The President, a Model or an actor.
Skipping or rescheduling my audition wasn’t an option. I had prepared for this role all week. I knew the lines by heart, I had done all the character research – I knew what she would wear, how she would talk, and even what color lipstick she would wear. All I needed now was to show up and show them my stuff (Unfortunately, some of my “stuff” was flying through the air as I sneezed three times in succession).
Nevertheless, I refused to admit to myself I had THE FLU.
I glanced at my reflection.
It’s not a pretty picture looking at yourself in the mirror when you’re sick. I yelled in surprised, startled by the reflection of a grayish, leathery face and bloodshot eyes. I felt the sudden urge to snort, and roll around in mud. Where was my beautiful blonde hair? Where were my china blue eyes? (oh wait, I never had those to begin with….)
This wasn’t fair. I had prepared for this audition. Everything was in place. This role was perfect for me. How could I suddenly get sick?
Times like these I realized that my closest friend was, unfortunately, good old Murphy.
“Out of all the days to get me sick, you had to pick today?” I yell at my reflection, wondering if I’d be calling out to an imaginary figure if I didn’t have fever. “Why’d you have to go make up such a retarded law anyway?!”
No! Murphy’s Law wasn’t going to get the better of me this time. I WAS going to show up at the audition, and I WAS going to be at my A game. It’s just a small case of the sniffles, that’s all, I told myself. And immediately set to work to fix my situation. I could cover my face with make-up, and wear something extra warm clothes o stop my involuntary shaking. Okay, it’s not how I planned, but it’ll work. I’m fine.
I had just managed to convince myself that I look and feel like a (half a) “million dollars”, when my friend, Jim calls.
“You sound like shit” Jim says shamelessly. “Unless you’ve had a sex change, I suggest you stay in bed.”
“Jim! I have an audition in half an hour and you’re not helping,” I warn him.
“Whoa. In that case, I hope you don’t look as bad as you sound.”
“I’m hanging up now….” Jim is great for a lot of things. But NOT for making you feel better.
“Okay, okay, I know what you can do. What’s bothering you? Head cold? Soar throat? Coughing?”
“All of the above.”
“Okay, just eat the following things, and we’ll have you back on your feet in ten minutes!” Jim promises.
Jim is a health freak (but I consider anyone who doesn’t live off coffee, cake and popcorn to be a little “out there”). In general, everything about Jim is a little too meticulous. The way he organizes all the clothes in his closet by color; the way he dresses (His boots have 3-inch heels on them!), the way he speaks (Hebrew with a French accent – although he doesn’t know a word of French), and the people he hangs out with (rich and famous—except for me). Jim is a man who takes his figure, his looks and his health all too seriously. Worst of all, he’s sure the rest of the world could stand to learn a thing or two from him.
“You need to eat two cloves of garlic and raw ginger,” Jim advises.
“Ewwww! That sounds disgusting!”
“Don’t worry, because then you wash it down with a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice.”
“Do you mean lemonade?”
“No, just lemon juice.”
I consider this for a moment. “But I can’t walk into an audition smelling like garlic!” I protest.
“You didn’t let me finish the recipe,” he continues. “Then after all that, you down two shots of whisky, and you’re good to go.”
“I can’t come to an audition tipsy and reeking of alcohol either!”
“Well, you can’t go sick!”
“I’m not sick… I’m just… Jim! What’s that noise?” I wonder aloud at the eerie squish-squish sound over the line.
“Nothing, I’m just rubbing in some hand-sanitizer.”
“I’m not contagious over the phone.”
“Famous last words,” I hear him mumble. “Hey, didn’t you say the audition is for a role of a girl who tried to kill herself the night before?”
“Yeah….” I say cautiously.
“So, problem solved! After having her stomach pumped and being depressed, I’m sure she looks like shit too. ”
I hang up with Jim, exasperated.
But it turns out Jim is only the tip of the iceberg. When you’re sick, everyone seems to be filled with useful-less advice.
My parents call from Jerusalem, putting me on speaker.
“What you need, is some good old fashioned Chicken Soup!” My father announces.
“Abba, you’re still in denial that I’m a vegetarian.”
My Mother reads down a list of medications and decongestants that she insists will whip me in shape for the audition.
“I don’t think so, Ima. Remember last time I was sick? You gave me those antihistamines you promised were for the day, and wouldn’t make me drowsy. Thirty-five minutes later I was sound asleep on the bus, and missed my stop by two cities! And don’t get me started on the time you confused ear drops with nose drops, Uch! That tasted disgusting!”
“Plus,” my father adds, on queue, “we had to scream into your nose for a week! That was the only way you could hear us properly.”
A quick “Thanks but no thanks,” as my friend, Miri, calls on my land line.
She suggests a more “natural” approach. But I assure her I can’t show up stoned to my audition.
My Brother (#4) takes the extreme physical approach and suggests 20 pushups, 40 deep knee bends, 60 crunches and he guarantees I’ll feel good as new. I assure him if I felt well enough to do all that, I wouldn’t worry about the audition.
My sister (#6) takes a more psychological approach: “Feeling sick is just a result of some unsolved conflict in your mind. Clean your mind and the disease will disappear,” she advises. When I ask her what that means, she just answers “not all of life has to have meaning.”
My older sister (#1), an avid fan of “The Secret” takes the cerebral approach: “Listen, whenever I take the kids to the mall, we all envision a perfect parking spot. And I’m telling you, not once has this failed. Every time we go to the mall, there’s not only one parking spot, but the whole floor is empty of cars!”
“That’s because no one else goes to the mall at 7:30 in the morning,” I remind her.
“I like to avoid rush hour. Anyway, I’m telling you, just envision yourself healthy, and imagine you’re ideal self at the audition. Then picture yourself getting the part and it’s yours.”
By the time I get to my destination, I’ve envisioned myself strong, healthy and confident about a million times. I slap on my dashing smile, pull back my shoulders, and enter the casting room.
“You look like you’re about to fall off your feet,” the director says dryly, bursting my bubble. “Are you sick?”
“No!” I reply quickly, “Just a little run-down.”
“You must be Tiferet?” he says skeptically, looking from my glamorous headshot to the real live sniffilufigous in front of him. “I’m Raffi, The Director.”
He gives me a polite nod, but I notice that he won’t risk shaking my hand. (which is probably a good idea since I keep coughing into it.)
“Are you up for crying?”
“Excuse me?” I ask. “I’m sorry, all this liquid in my ears. I thought you said something about crying.”
“Well, this scene calls for crying,” Raffi replies.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played several roles which require crying, but this was the first time I’d ever been asked to cry at an audition.
“Um, normally there’s a lot of preparation involved in crying,” I explain. “And I was under the impression that I was to prepare the scene you sent me?”
“Yeah, but that’s less important. The only thing I really need to be sure of is that you can cry in the exact way I’m looking for. Try and think of something sad.”
He turns on the camcorder and aims it at me.
Right now, this seems the saddest situation I can think of. Here I am, red nosed and droopy-eyed, trying to focus all my attention on getting in character and conveying real emotions and he wants me to… cry? I’ve never been the spontaneous crier type.
“Now,” the director says from behind the camera. “I don’t want just a few tears. I want a whole waterfall! When I say ‘ACTION!’ I want you to break out in hysterical bawling….Ready?” he asks rhetorically, and before I can blow my nose, yells “ACTION!”
I just sit there, shocked, and at a complete loss for words. Or tears. The director waits anxiously, and the room gets so quiet that I can hear him swallow.
You know the saying “Laughter is the best medicine?” Well, I’m almost positive I can hear Murphy laughing from the corner of the room, and for no reason at all, I suddenly join him.
The director looks up, surprised. (he probably doesn’t understand what’s so funny, since he only sees one of us.)
“Sorry,” I tell him, shaking my head, and accepting the sad truth. “But this isn’t gonna happen.”
If my head had not been throbbing, my throat burning, and brain in a medicated daze, maybe, just maybe I would’ve succeeded in focusing enough on crying.
And maybe not.
There are certain things you’re never asked to do at the audition itself: cry, kiss and take off your clothes. Generally, if you’re asked to do any of these things on the spot, something is fishy.
I remember in acting class we had a girl who could always cry (even when the scene didn’t warrant it!). But the thing is, except for crying, she’d never show any real emotion. My teacher called her “A Crying Whore”, meaning she could “put out” tears without thinking. He used her as a negative example to explain that when you act, first get in touch with the emotion at hand, and if crying is where it leads you, so be it.
Still, I wondered if not “crying on demand” made me less of a professional. Had I failed as an actress?
Waiting for the bus, feeling let down and disappointed, coughing and sneezing, I realized that if I was looking for sympathy, the streets of Tel Aviv were the wrong place to find it. Every time I coughed, people nervously crossed to the other side of the street; others just glared, silently accusing me of polluting their germ-free-smog-full air.
Once on the bus, things really got uncomfortable as people pointed to me and whispered to their seat-mates. I could swear I even heard a woman two seats in front of me say, “Don’t you hear? Her cough is high pitched and squeaky, just like an oink. If that isn’t Swine Flue I don’t know what is.”
When my coughing fit increased to the point that tears were streaming down my cheek, and all the passengers moved away from me and to the front of the bus, I took the hint, and got off 4 stops early.
By the time I got home, I felt angry for failing my audition, feverish and sore, and felt the urge to check for leprosy (Had my nose fallen off during one of my sneezing fits?). When Jim called again, he of course, had his own way of showing support.
“I would love to come cook you some home-made soup, except I don’t want to risk breathing the same air as you. But just so you know I care – how about I drive over and leave a few packets of instant soup in your mailbox? It’s outside your building, isn’t it?”
In case you’re wondering, I actually tried Jims’ instant remedy for the flu. The only change it stirred in me was a strong sense of nausea, and the hiccups.
I sat down and jolted a sentence I seemed to remember, on a nearby napkin. I was trying to figure out the exact wording, when I heard a knock at my door. To my surprise, there stood my ever-loving brother, (#3) holding large grocery bags.
“Hey sis, heard you’re sick,” he says, letting himself in and placing the grocery bags on my kitchen table.
“Not sick, just a feeling a little –” he puts his hand over my mouth.
“No, you’re sick. So…” He begins opening the bags, taking out different items. “I brought our patient some ice-cream and drinks and tea bags and a box of your favorite blue jellybeans…” He hands me a pre-opened box of HIS favorite blue jellybeans. “Um…. Weird thing, they sell them in half packages now…” he says as I notice the blue coloring on his finger tips.
“Did you just drive all the way from Jerusalem for me?” I ask, amazed.
“Don’t worry about it. By the way, Ima packed in all these medications for you, and Abba sent you some chicken soup.”
Turns out, I can be moved to tears in an instant.
“That’s so sweet! But I don’t want you to feel that every time I’m not feeling well you have to drive an hour to take care of me.”
“Yeah, me too. So how about you save us both the trouble and get a boyfriend already?” He smiles at me and leans-in to give me hug. “Gee, you don’t have to cry about it, you’ll get one eventually,” he jokes, and kisses my forehead, clearly un-phased by my germs.
But then he sniffs the air a couple of times, and after I hiccup, adds, “Sis, you smell like alcohol and it’s only 2 in the afternoon. Are you developing a habit?”
I shake my head. He moves towards the table, picks up the napkin I had scribbled on earlier, and reads it aloud:
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
“I knew it! This is from AA.!”
“No it’s not, it’s like a religious saying or something,” I insist.
“Sis, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a prob–“
“No,” I grab it from him, and smile. “Believe it or not, I was just summing up my day.”
For me, the day was an example of all my hard work, preparation and positive thinking, not paying off.
I couldn’t foresee getting sick. I couldn’t foresee that I’d be asked to cry at the audition. I couldn’t predict anything.
I guess sometimes the biggest challenge in life is to accept that we don’t control everything. Oh yes, we control a lot of our fate, but there’s always that small percentage that really isn’t up to us.
On the other hand, not having control about everything in your life, is also a plus. I could never have foreseen my brother showing up at my door-step, just when I needed him most. And that was a wonderful surprise.
The serenity to accept that things I can’t change.
Thanks to high doses of cough-syrup, I finally feel serene, (except for the fact that Mom failed to mention it had caffeine in it, which is why I’m wide awake and writing at 4:00 am).
Sometimes trying my best will just have to be good enough, and the rest I’ll have to leave in the hands of higher being or entities (like the Director….).
So right now I guess I have to face facts that – yes, I’m sick. And I plan to spend the next 24 hours curled up under the covers, and eating my brothers’ favorite blue jellybeans.
This much I will accept.
But I draw the line at growing a snout and curly tail.
November 19, 2009 | 1:01 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
Miri, like me, is an actress. But although we share the same profession, I assure you, we don’t compete for the same roles. Miri is petite, blond, full bosomed, and a few years my senior (believe me, you’d never guess!). She’s a living, breathing Barbie Doll and usually, if you’re not talking about Ken or her latest interests, she just turns herself off and looks blank (blanker even than when she’s talking about Ken). But don’t think she’s ignoring you – Miri doesn’t have a sarcastic, mean, hurtful, or snide bone in her body. And if you ever saw the way she contorts her body you’d probably wonder if she has any bones at all. Her attention span is rivaled only by her ability to change subjects.
She does have what I call a “vampire cat” who is forever trying to tear her hair out and sink her fangs into Miri’s Snow White neck. Not that Miri notices. And if you’re looking for a great night out with the girls – forget it – just take Miri. She’s the reason people say “Blondes have more fun!”
So, whenever I’m looking to unwind and take life a little less seriously, Miri is my address.
“How tight for money are you exactly?” Miri asks, desperately trying to cuddle her killer cat that is clawing at her wildly.
“According to my calculations, I have about 40 shekels to live on for the next 10 days,” I answer, wondering if she really thinks her cat can be cuddled.
“But you know me,” I add quickly, “I’m like a cat with nine lives. I always land on my feet.”
At the sound of the word “cat” Miri’s cat lunges at me, but Miri holds onto her tail letting her swing upside down in the air.
“So I sat and crunched some numbers,” I continue, trying to make myself heard above the din of the screeching cat, “and made a list of my expenses to see what I can cut back on. Here’s the list of stuff I crossed out.” I reach into my bag and hand Miri my list.
“You crossed off electricity?” Miri wonders, out loud.
“Sure, why not? I have two working flashlights. I love cold soup. And they promised a warm winter,” I explain.
“Hot water is a luxury. So is cold water. “
“TRANSPORTATION – you can’t possibly walk the 40 miles to your physical therapist!”
“Nah, read the next item. I crossed out physical therapy too. Who needs him? I have the other leg to lean on…”
“ Don’t be insulted if I stop calling you. Anyway, cells are dangerous to your health.”
“And with the cutbacks you still have –“
“Yup! 40 shekels,” I proudly announce. “That’s $1.10 a day IF the dollar holds against the shekel.”
“What about food expenses?”
“Here.” I hand her my newly updated shopping list, and Miri reads down the list:
“ Vegetables, Fruit, Cereal, Milk, Bread, Eggs, Pastrami – “ Suddenly she looks up at me. “But you crossed out EVERYTHING except bread and mustard!”
“What, you thought I was born thin?!”
“Listen, we can figure this out. All you need is –“
“All I need is a job.” I tell her.
Don’t raise your eyebrows like that, I know I have a job. I’m an actress, that’s my full-time job. But an actor has to play lots of parts. Like waitressing and bar-tendering, and that old Hollywood standby - babysitting. It’s actually very good practice, pretending to work at all these other jobs; and how many people do you know who get paid while practicing their craft? Fact is, over the last few years I’ve played more characters off stage, than on. My resume includes such diverse roles as gymnastics’ coaching, teaching, graphic design, project manager, law secretary, and publicity director. The list goes on. And every time I take on a new persona, I always ask myself at least 3 of the 7 questions the great Stanislavsky had his actors ask themselves:
What (the heck!) am I doing here? How (on earth!) did I get here? And what (in God’s name!) is the point of all of this?
Apparently, the path to stardom is littered with depressing self-analysis.
“When I signed on for a career as a starving actress, I never realized it was a way of life!” I finally admit. “And now I have to take a full-time job just because I need to eat and like to see where I’m going in my apartment. But once I take a full time job how will I be able to make myself available to go on last-minute auditions, or unexpected interviews, or emergency rehearsals?”
“I know what you mean. I just started a new job myself. It pays really well.”
“Really, what is it?”
“I’m an animal psychic now.”
Figures Miri would find a creative way to make money.
“You mean you can talk to dead animals?”
“Not exactly talk.”
“Well, can you talk to live animals? I mean, what do you say to the pet owners about what they’re animals are telling you?”
“What do you mean? If it’s a dog, I bark a bit, and he barks back – I do better with boy dogs – and then I just repeat whatever he said to his owner.”
“In what language?”
“In English, silly. This morning a dachshund told me that he’s in love with his owner’s best friend, and that he feels guilty about his emotions. He wanted me to ask the owner’s friend to take him away with him. ”
“Are you serious?”
“For $300 an hour of course I’m serious. Tiferet, I’ve always felt cursed with this ability to talk to animals. As a child, I remember running to my parents yelling “Zidy’s going to kill herself! Zidy’s going to kill herself!” But no one would listen. They thought I was being silly. But the next day Zidy killed herself.” Miri started to cry.
“How did she die?” I asked, feeling sorry for my friend.
“Drowned.” She replied.
“Your dog drowned? Did he jump into your pool?”
“We didn’t have a pool Tiferet. And we didn’t have a dog. The one time my parents brought home a dog they were upset that I was spending so much time talking to her, so they gave it away. Don’t ask how that dog cursed out my parents.”
“So who drowned?” I foolishly ask.
“My pet goldfish,” came the remarkable answer. “I knew it was going to happen. She kept doing a backdive into the bottom of the bowl.”
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Before I can decide, Miri changes the subject.
“So you understand that with my unique talent I just had to open a Psychic Animal Center. I wish you could talk to animals so you could make all the money I’m making,” she says sweetly, and means it.
All this time the cat is hanging upside down and actually getting a bit red around the whiskers. It has long since stopped screeching.
“Ask Whiskers,” Miri suddenly says. “Don’t we have great communication?” she asks, picking up her cat by the scruff of her neck and planting a fat kiss on her forehead. The cat perks up enough to try and bite her nose.
“I didn’t know cats could growl,” I point out, noticing the cat’s mouth curve up into a snarl.
“Oh, she’s just expressing herself,” she pats Whiskers’ head lovingly. “What? What did you say? Of course, sweetheart.” Then she flings her cat onto the nearby sofa. Whiskers decides she’s had enough and shoots out of the room.
“What did she say?” I asked, unable to resist the urge.
“Of course, the cat.”
“Just a bunch of gibberish,” she assures me. “Forget about Whiskers. I think I have the job for you.”
“I don’t bark and I don’t understand bark,” I remind her.
“No. Did you call my photographer friend last week? The one I told you was looking for a portrait model?”
“The one who offered to pay me with a one hour massage.”
Miri raises her eyebrows. “You should take it, he’s got great hands!”
“Maybe, but he wants me to do the massaging!”
“What’s the difference?” Miri counters.
I think about running after the cat.
“I know what will make you feel better,” Miri says brightly, taking out her stash and rolling a joint.
“No,” I explain, “that’s what makes YOU feel better. I’ll feel better when I can stop reading by flashlight.”
I kiss Miri goodbye, check to make sure Whisker’s is not lying in wait somewhere, and walk back home the long way, intending to peek my head in the local pubs to see if they need a bartender.
Although I consider myself to be the eternal optimist, I can’t say that moments like these don’t get me down.
Over the past week I’ve been offered several different positions, from full time nanny, to full-time marketer of a theater, and full time writer at a publishing house (all you can read – Free!).
But all these jobs demand all my time. My career would be on hold. All of which would mean I’d be settling for making money to stay alive. But not to LIVE.
Right now, part of my job is waking up every morning and re-making that same decision—not to give up.
But until my lucky break comes along, do me a favor – send this link to your friends. It’ll help me with my stop-gap plan – to get a raise from this newspaper.
November 17, 2009 | 3:51 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
I don’t know how it works in LA, but in Tel Aviv there are only two occasions on which traffic literally stops. One is Yom Kippur, and the other was last Sunday night. But as I strolled along the deserted streets of Tel Aviv, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what Holiday it was. First, no one had been taking my calls for the last half hour, and now it seemed I was the last remaining person on the planet.
What did everyone know that I didn’t?
Luckily, it didn’t take me too long to find out. I walked into a local kiosk and found the owner staring up at the TV screen, with a few other customers crowded around the tube.
“Excuse me,” I began, but received no sign of life. Had the body-snatcher invasion began?
“Excuse me,” I tried again, a little louder. “Where do you keep the milk?”
Without batting an eyelash, the kiosk owner pointed me to a spot behind him and to the right. But before I re-routed myself, I glanced up at the screen and found out that the body snatchers of Hollywood East had done it again.
Tonight was the first night of the second season of the wildly successful reality show: “Big Brother”. And apparently there wasn’t a single resident in Tel Aviv that was going to miss it.
I joined the zombies riveted to the television, determined to find out why exactly “Big Brother” has become a show that hypnotist’s would give their “lean back and relax” couches for.
The opening season introduced 16 colorful characters, ranging from a hot, single Mom, a trans-gender, a gay loner from a religious home, and even a deaf model. Then they hit the audience with the perfect couple: an overpowering pregnant woman who revealed way more skin than I would have liked to see, holding the tight leash of her pathetically hen-pecked husband.
The real clincher – for me – was the criminal-defense attorney who, when asked what he was extremely good at, answered “hitting on women.” This women-beater was a friend of mine. And it dawned on me that three months from now, when the show ends, I’ll know more about him than I’d want to know, or he wanted me to know.
But after seeing the whole country tuning in to the lives of these people, I couldn’t help but wonder:
Is the shortest path to stardom necessarily the right one?
A few months earlier I had been approached by someone casting for “Big Brother”. She felt I was a “character” they still didn’t have, and promised that participating in the show would catapult my career forward.
“The whole world will know you, whether you win or not. You’ll be famous. Doors will open and you’ll be making a ton of money just from the publicity.”
As a kid, sharing a room (or my parents) with my other 8 siblings was almost impossible for me, so how could I share the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that have made up my life, so far. When she countered that a true actor can “act” her way through any reality experience, I was momentarily tempted to take on the challenge, and finally accept my destiny.
But then the image of all of Israel (at least all of Tel Aviv) tuning in to watch me pour a cup of coffee for myself appeared in front of me. How on earth could I find my 15 minutes of peace and quiet in the morning, if the whole country is judging my excessive caffeine consumption?
I’m sure you understand, I had to turn down the offer, as tempting as it may have been. “As an actress I pride myself in putting masks on, not taking them off in front of the whole country,” I explained to her, putting on my most diplomatic mask.
For me becoming famous through “revelation of self” in a public forum would be traveling the worst path to stardom. I believe that most actors would willingly give up the paparazzi, the invasion of privacy and the rumors that go along with being an established actor. What I want to do is act, and unfortunately, in order to make a proper living off it, loss of animosity is an unfortunate side-effect of being recognized for you skills. So I’m willing to lose “some” of my self, but not stand naked in front of the world pointing out my personal flaws (assuming I have any).
Yet I have to admit that lately, reality stars are in the consciousness of the Israeli public much more than actors, movies and TV shows. Reality shows are cheaper, give their audiences instant gratification as they invade every nook and cranny of their contestant’s life. In other words, it’s a peep show we don’t have to pay anything for.
On the plus side, if you want to stroll down the streets of Tel Aviv Sunday nights, you’ll finally get a little quiet.
November 13, 2009 | 6:05 am
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
It had been going wonderfully so far. The Utopian atmosphere enveloping the audience made us feel that indeed, Israeli films were getting the international recognition they deserved, proving that in fact, here is Israel, we make good movies. I could almost here the soundtrack of our fuzzy feeling, “…and I think to myself, what a wonderful, wonderful world….”
And then it happened. Enter stage right. Dover Koshashvili takes the mike and the soundtrack changes to “You’re so vain….” As he states matter-of-factly, that he will not be swept into our “euphoria”, and that we are too quick to celebrate the success of Israeli films. Our movies, he says, are “mediocre”… at best.
Let me set stage: “Sam Spiegel – Film & Television school Jerusalem” is celebrating 20 years, and yesterday they organized a 12 hour conference to commemorate the event, at the Cinemateque in Jerusalem. The topic: “The Vision of Israeli Cinema” features well-known personalities and famous members of the Israeli Film Industry such as:
Yael Abecassis (actress and model), Joseph Cedar (Director and Screenwriter), Shuly Rand (actor, singer, director and screenwriter), Ari Folman (Director and Screenwriter), And many more.
When I wasn’t invited to speak, I elegantly crashed the party, and joined the audience of film professionals and Students of the film industry.
Dover Koshashvili, an acclaimed Israeli director (Late Marriage, Gift from Above) dared to burst our bubble, and smash the image of Israeli films playing in the big leagues. In his opinion, Israeli films are not all that good, and he’s not sure if we have the abilities to make them better.
The crowd went wild.
Screaming for blood.
A well-known Israeli actress, a Teacher for the school and a fellow director confronted Dover, accusing him of not bothering to watch Israeli films, of crushing the morale of those present and of generally not arguing in an intellectual manner. Although there were only a handful of people participating in this shout-out, I could feel the ground shaking.
Obviously, Koshashvili was treading thin ice, putting down Israeli films and demoralizing future cinema creators – or – was it his way of giving a motivational speech? When asked why our film producers and directors weren’t good enough, he expressed frustration, and couldn’t understand why we didn’t see it for ourselves. Finally, he added: “They’re not Fellini.”
But I was curious. Was Koshashvili on a self-hating rampage? Did the industry deserve his wrath? Did they really care all that much?
I spent the next several hours interviewing many of the students, and was surprised to learn that most of them did in fact agree with him. They just didn’t feel comfortable expressing their opinion in that particular forum.
But it didn’t make sense. Israeli Films seem to be getting better every year. They’re everywhere. And lately we’ve been on a winning streak, sought after and appreciated by foreign festivals and even nominated for the academy awards. So, if Koshashvili is right you just have to wonder: Does Israel actually deserve the reputation it’s receiving for outstanding film-making?
One film student I interviewed said she had a hard time finding a film worth paying for at the movies, although, she was quick to add, “they are certainly worth downloading.”
Another told me he thought some Israeli films were exceptionally good compared to other Israeli films, but not compared to the films worldwide.
And still another told me that Israeli films all have that heavy atmosphere to them. She had recently come home from Paris and noticed that from the sky, Israel was covered in a cloud , a foggy haze that didn’t dissipate as they came in for a landing. And that, she pointed out, was an appropriate analogy to the film industry.
Tawfik Abu Wael, an accomplished Arab director and screen-writer (Atash) spoke candidly when he told us he didn’t feel part of the Israeli Film industry. He complained about his unique situation: On the one hand he represents Arabs and makes films about Arabs, and on the other hand, Arabs don’t see movies.
Tawfik’s criticism towards the Israeli Film Industry was courageous and unexpected. He felt that there is indeed an Israeli mainstream, a template which most film-makers are afraid to move away from. He said that not all Israelis are gay, not all are soldiers or left wing, and that he himself would love to see an authentic film of Israeli settlers fighting for their land.
At the end of his short talk, a member of the audience screamed out to him: “Would YOU make a film about Israeli Settlers fighting Arabs for their land?”
Without batting an eyelash, he retorted: “Give me a good script and the money and I’ll make it.”
It’s safe to say that most of us left feeling that the future of the Israeli film industry was in dire straits, not only as far as quality of production and subject matter were concerned, but also because of the growing problems of film piracy, disastrous co-productions, and a sever shortage of funding – all issues that were raised, with a relatively pessimistic view as to solving them.
And yet, the same questions continue to haunt me: Why does it seem that Israeli Films are gaining recognition around the world? Is it my imagination? Is it a passing fad?
Are Israeli films popular these days because they’re not politically correct? Is conflict “in”? Are our headlines piquing the curiosity of those who think that war and anger are what good movies are all about? Is it the topics we choose rather than the quality?
Or does Israel, in fact, make good movies?
I need to find the answer…soon…before I’m out of a job.
November 9, 2009 | 12:06 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
“Are you familiar with the French kiss?” he asks, giving me his most dashing smile, coupled with a more mischievous look.
“Excuse me?” I blurt out, spitting my wine onto the white napkin provided for wiping, not spilling.
No, I’m not talking about my latest date. I’m referring to my very first encounter with the acclaimed wine critic, Daniel Rogov, 6 months ago.
“The French have many ways to bid a maiden farewell, and they are all expressed in the kiss of a hand. Allow me,” he raises my hand to his lips, and proceeds to demonstrate the various, graphic kisses used by the French to woo their women. But I had to admit, if Rogov knew even half as much about wine as he did about impressing women, his reputation was well deserved.
If you don’t know who I’m talking about, allow me to enlighten you. Rogov has established himself as one of Israel’s’ leading wine critics, currently writing a column for “Haaretz”, and a contributor to other international wine books such as “Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book” and” Tom Stevenson’s Wine Report.”
But his real claim-to-fame is his thorough, user friendly wine guide: Rogov’s Guide to Israel wines – 2010 published by “Toby Press”. That’s what this classy celebration at “Derech Hayayin” (The Wine Road), in Tel Aviv, was all about.
Rogov’s comprehensive guide covers over 2000 Israeli wines, 150 Israeli wineries, and a vast amount of information about each wine – even a tasting chart. Adam Montefiore, representing the Carmel Winery, launched the event, assuring everyone that Israeli wines are indeed on the map, due, in no small measure, to Rogov. He described Rogov as the “Ambassador of Israeli wines”, and his guide has helped catapult Israeli wines into the consciousness of wine-drinkers across the world.
But what am I, a humble actress and blogger doing at this classy party?
Like any self-respecting actress, I have done my share of bartending. And for me the wine experience is one of the more delightful. Yet, my appreciation for the beverage is totally subjective and I have never been a gargle-then-spit wine connoisseur. I know the basic rules; smell before tasting, white before red and from experience – never, never drink on an empty stomach.
But what I went there to find out was: Is there such thing as great Kosher wine?
So here I am, mingling among the rich and famous, trying my best to fit in. The only problem is, my brother seems determined to blow my cover.
“What should I try first, Red or White?” he asks me, holding up a sparkling dessert wine and a sweet concord wine.
“Neither,” I say in disgust, motioning for him to hide both glasses. “Act sophisticated, will you? Try a REAL wine, not alcoholic sugared syrup! Here, try this,” I hand him a cup of my favorite pinotage.
Bro takes a sip and scrunches his face in discontent. “This is spoiled. It’s bitter!”
“You simply have to develop your pallet a little more,” I say confidently, straightening up and gargling my wine as professionally as I can, wondering if there was a difference between a dry wine and a wet wine. “This is your chance to taste some great Kosher wines.”
He shakes his head at me. “Tiferet, don’t you know that we Jews are famous for the sweet red wine? You wouldn’t want to break a tradition, would you?” and he gulps his grape-juice tasting beverage down.
He has a point. We all share those same first memories of kosher wine. The sugar rush that courses through your veins with your first sip of Concord Extra Sweet (Pre-Diabetic) Wine. Drink enough Manischewitz and even the Mom’s chicken soup tastes like candy.
In fact, I remember, back in the States, I walked into a liquor store to buy a holiday gift for a family who invited me for a meal. When I asked the salesman to recommend a good kosher wine he looked at me and said: “You want good or kosher. Decide.”
So that’s why Rogov’s OTHER guide, the first of its’ kind, is a very important PR tool for Kosher wines: “Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines – 2010: A guide to the world’s 500 Best Kosher wines.”
I was impressed to read in Rogov’s’ kosher wine introduction that making good wine is not a new field for Jews. And in fact, there was life before Manischewitz. Apparently, 2000 years ago, Jews were actually the leading experts on the how-to of alcohol. But that was before the onset of our last Diaspora. When we returned to making wine, some 200 years ago in the USA, our ingredients were limited as was our ability. So there’s good reason Kosher wine has received a bad rep. It really was pretty bad.
And speaking of the “old days”, who hasn’t felt downright envious of those lucky enough to have their Friday night dinner with a “good bottle of wine” - dry, even semi-dry. But most Jews (including my family) brought in the Sabbath with fine foods, respectable guests and 100% Glucose Concord/Malaga wine.
So much for developing connoisseur tastes.
The only thing we developed was cavities.
But I am happy to announce that those days are over. Kosher wine is “in”. So, I dragged my wine-mayven brother over to congratulate Rogov in person.
This time I thought I was prepared. I wore long sleeves and had a package of hand sanitizers in my purse. But nothing really prepares you for Rogov.
“Can I just have a quick picture with you?” I ask, beckoning the photographer in our direction.
“Of course. Will we be getting undressed?” he grins.
“In another time, another place, and a different age gap,” I wink at him. “For right now, let’s just smile at the camera.”
Rogov’s charisma and quick wit are only part of his charm. The other part is he really does know what he’s talking about.
Rogov’s guide will help you to see the light as well as the medium and heavy wines. It will introduce you to wines you may be unfamiliar with, and will teach you how to know when your wine reaches its peak of flavor.
And you’ll be proud to learn that being kosher and liking good wine is no longer an oxymoron.
“Do you maybe have a Danish that will help wash away this taste of alcohol?” my brother asks the waiter, pointing to his cup of Muscat. The waiter frowns in disgust and offers him Blue cheese hors D’oeuvres instead.
“Whoa,” Bro takes a step back. “That cheese has fungus all over it!” Noticing the waiter’s astonished look, he quickly adds, “That’s okay, just throw it right away. I won’t tell your boss you forgot to refrigerate it.”
I smile apologetically to the waiter, and shove my brother in the other direction. “You’re embarrassing me. Now please, let’s pretend to be civilized people, and drink some of this Château stuff,” I hiccup, trying to steady my balance.
My slightly inebriated, hyperactive brother grabs a copy of Rogov’s guide and reads me the following:
“…Whether one enjoys drinking wines in their youth, their adolescence, their early adulthood or in their maturity, their choice is very much a matter of personal taste.
“That means, that if I think sweet wine is delicious – it is!” he concludes, as those around us turn to snicker.
Obviously some people will never learn. Not all common-folk have the capacity to expand their horizons to the sophistication and sensations of good, kosher wine, like me.
But, that cheese really did look like it was growing fungus….
“Come on,” I tell my brother and prepare to exit the party before Rogov gets to say goodbye again, “Let’s go get some rum-raisin ice cream.”
November 5, 2009 | 3:00 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
As an actress, I am expected to be a chameleon, to camouflage my self for the good of the role. Sweet and innocent as I am—without warning—I may be required to play a victimized teenager or cut-throat lawyer, without batting a natural eyelash.
I can handle a wide range of roles without a problem; transform from femme fatale to the girl next door at the drop of a hat. I’m a professional actress. My job is building a character, and I’m good at it. But often, how good you act can’t even get you to first base unless you meet the pre-acting criteria – good (as in sexy, sensual, stunning) looks.
Okay, I can accept that. To paraphrase that wise old king, “There’s a time for looking good, and a time for looking yourself.”
For me, getting in touch with my feminine side means being comfortable. I am at my best, and most confident, dressed in corduroy pants, T-shirt and sneakers.
And therein lies the rub! I always assumed that who I am and the roles I play are two separate things. I am only an actress on set. But apparently, things aren’t as simple as that… well at least according to Jim.
Last night, I’m waiting in the rain, at our usual meeting spot when Jim’s Cherokee pulls over. I run to take cover inside his jeep, but as I pull on the handle, the door locks go down. I look inside at Jim, and tap the window. But still, the doors remain locked. Getting wetter by the second, I bang angrily on the window, yelling “Open up, I’m drowning out here, you idiot!” Finally, the window rolls down and Jim stares angrily at me as though I had done a terrible thing.
“I’m not letting you into my car, and certainly not taking you to the party looking like that!” says my very metro-sexual (although he insists, straight) friend, dressed like a true Tel Avivi. I grab the door handle from the inside and pull it up. As the door opens I rush inside.
“What’s your problem? I’m fine!” I wring my hair out, secretly enjoying Jim’s shocked expression as rivulets of rainwater soak his precious leather seats.
“Tiferet, didn’t I tell you this was an up-scale party?” he scolds me, disgusted by my nonchalant attitude. “And didn’t I tell you we’d be meeting big-shots there? Didn’t I also tell you that there would be media there? And to look your best?!”
“Uh huh,” I nod, drying my face on his $400 cashmere scarf. “You did. That’s why I’m wearing my best water-soaked sweater, and best water-logged boots!” I raise a boot onto the dashboard for him to see. A little waterfall splashes onto his carpet.
Jim cringes. “I meant wear a little black dress! You need to show some skin! Show some class!”
“Are you crazy? It’s freezing outside! I’m not gonna’ be cold just for the sake of looking sheek! YOU come in a little black dress if it’s so important to you.” And match the tights and necklace to go with it, I mumble under my breath.
“What %@#&!” he curses, shoving my boot off the dash. “And you’re supposed to wear heels!”
“I don’t do heels.”
“What is that supposed to mean, every woman does heels!”
“Not me, they’re dangerous.”
“No they’re not. I never heard of a woman getting killed wearing heels.”
“It’s not me I’m worried about. It’s everyone around me. I have no balance in heels. I trip over or under anything in my way. Ask my date of last week. He called yesterday to say that ‘the doctors think they can save my toe’. Is that what you want?”
“Don’t be silly,” he answers, starting the engine and driving in the wrong direction. “But look at you, Tiferet,” he suddenly blurts out, almost in tears, “You may as well have come out in pajamas!”
“You’d like that wouldn’t you. Me coming to the party in baby-dolls or a silk – Hey, where are you going?”
“To the mall, I’m not taking you to the party looking like this. And look at your hair, it’s not done up at all. You’re an actress, you’re supposed to look Sheek, not Shuk!” (the Hebrew word for marketplace). Then he squints at me as though seeing me for the first time.
“Woman, have you just landed from Mars? You’re not even wearing any makeup! YOU need a makeover.”
“Venus,” I point out.
“Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Shows what you know.”
Jim isn’t sure whether I’m kidding or not. Or maybe he’s never read the book. I can’t decide which.
“Look Tiferet,” he explains, parking the car in the mall, “as your best friend, and what some might consider a fashion guru, I can’t allow you to walk around Tel Aviv looking the way you do. It’s sacrilegious!”
I didn’t even know he believed in God.
So I had to ask myself the hard question: Is acting a full time job? Do I have to look my best all the time, even if it means I won’t necessarily be feeling my best?
To Jim, the answer is clear. An hour later I am “resplendent” (his word) in my new clothes and accessories. The only hang-up seems to be my feet. I’m petite in most ways but I’ve inherited my father’s feet. Who made up the rule that women’s feet have to be small? (Probably one of those Chinese geisha’s with their dainty tied-up feet during the Ming Dynasty.) But this saleswoman is determined to cut off my circulation. She’s trying to stuff my size 10 foot into a size 7 shoe – and succeeding. The 5 inch heels mean I am also in a ballet position hanging on to Jim for dear life.
“Ouch! It’s pinching everywhere!” I whine.
“Don’t we women have to put up with a lot?” the saleswoman confides, handing me the empty shoebox.
“Tiferet!” Jim commands, steadying me, “Stop complaining and walk in them a little.”
“This can’t be safe, walking on these pointy sticks like this… I’m gonna’ break my ankle,” I pout, staggering along the store hallway.
“Occupational hazard,” Jim says dryly.
“No pain no stardom,” he mumbles. “You’re walking like a drunk. Chin up, eyes straight ahead, shoulders back,” he orders.
“Stop giving me runway instructions!”
“Eyes forward!” He demands, following me in his comfortable loafers. “You’ll get used to them in no time, every woman wears them.”
I pause in front of a mirror, not recognizing the woman in the reflection. The tight fitting dress and high heels are bad enough, but Jim has me made up so that I barely recognize myself. I feel like I’m in character, and ready to role.
I pull down the dangerously short dress Jim has chosen for me.
“You look sexy!” Jim drools. It’s times like this I wish Jim was as gay as the impression he actually gives.
“Look at my face!” I implore, rubbing at the uncomfortable makeup. “I feel like I a four-year-old just magic-markered all over it! And this jacket feels like a girdle. I can barely breath. And these Cruella Devile shoes are for the toeless. I’m falling all over the place. If we ever get to the party our host better not have anything expensive lying around.
“And why do I feel like I have to rush forward all the time,” I complain, suddenly feeling sorry for my one year old niece just learning to walk. Why isn’t anyone “ooing” and “ahhhing” me as I take my first steps?
“You just have to practice” Jim advises, “Walk in them an hour a day.”
We buy the shoes – I could never have pried them off anyway.
At the party, all heads turn as I clickity click through the door and onto the Italian marble floor. I keep myself from shouting “Bolero!” but I get the distinct feeling some of the people are asking themselves “What the hell is she made up for?”
But Jim’s right. People notice me. And I get cards with those star-studded words, “Call me” scribbled on the back, with both home and cell numbers. And there were some directors (2) and producers (1) at the party, and to be honest, one casting director seemed really interested in me (hopefully for my acting potential).
I left early, because of the pain. Crossing the street, my heel got stuck in a crack and I careened forward into the street, barely missing a car, and visa versa. The driver yelled a quick “Shikor!” (Drunk!) and kept driving. But the good thing was that it took me half the time to walk home because I was in perpetual forward motion.
As a victim of the beauty-on-demand era, I feel obligated to pose the question: Are we paying too high a price for what we’re after?
Obviously, in every profession there are sacrifices to be made to get where you want: doctors study seven years or more just to be able to practice; lawyers have to work 18 hour days; and psychologist – well, psychologists have to sacrifice their sanity so they can identify with the insane.
But none of those professionals have to do it in heels!
In an industry where how you look means more than how you act, and the years of hard work you spent polishing your craft are second to the clothes you wear – how do you know where to draw the line?
It would be one thing if only the actors suffered, but millions of people gaze expectantly at celebrities, copying their every clothing move. We set styles, but do we set a good example?
And between our hair extensions, three-inch makeup, nips and tucks, girdles and high heels – how can any married man (or woman) know who they’re REALLY getting?
Think of the wasted hours spent by women (and more and more men) putting their faces, stomachs and buttocks together each morning. Think of the obsession young people have with being young because their idols never seem to age. Think of the divorce rates that continue to soar because the ratio of how a woman looks when she goes to bed compared to how she looks when she wakes up is 1 (year) to 20 (years)—after only 1 year of marriage!
Would Rodan’s “The Thinker” been have as thoughtful if he’d had Botox injected into him every day?
I’m still trying to figure out where my red lines are – when I should sacrifice comfort for appearance.
Ah, well…It’s time for me to go practice my heel walking now. But from my pigeon-toed, fifth position, five inch altitude, I’ll be wondering:
When exactly, is the price for beauty too HIGH?
November 2, 2009 | 2:18 am
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
Dating is just like the movies.
I used to study screen writing, and it seems to me that every one of my dates follows the template of a grade B script.
Like any writer, the date knows he has about 5 minutes to grip (not physically) his audience and leave her begging for more. If he’s successful, she’ll be riveted (not physically) to her seat and for the next couple of hours he’ll get the applause he deserves. If he’s boring, too talkative, spaced out, or takes himself too seriously, then he’ll lose his audience and any chance to really touch (sometimes-but-rarely physically) me. In short, like any movie-goer, if I paid for a ticket (or even if my date paid for it) and the movie’s lousy I’ll force myself to stay until the end—but you can bet your bottom dollar wild horses (flowers, candy, even an apology) won’t get me back for the sequel.
But I’m moving ahead of myself. Let’s analyze for a moment the dating script.
Mr. (wannabe) Right starts with his introduction (the story of his life), moving on to the main characters and supporting roles, (his friends and family) who reappear (disjointedly) throughout the plot. Then there is the first turning point, where I will be (sometimes) pleasantly surprised to learn there is more to him than meets the eye (ears, nose and…). If I’m lucky, I find he has personality, maybe even aims, ambitions, goals, and (rarely) a method for reaching his objective. It looks like clear sailing.
At this point, as with any basic no-brainer movie plot, I let myself relax, realizing that this could be enjoyable. There’s even moments when I think “He’s sweet, a real gentleman (so far) and actually listening to me almost as much as he is to himself.” But then the next sequence begins:
The Revelation, (or second turning point).
In a movie, this is the part where, after following the cop who’s hot on the trail of a serial murderer and seems to be ready to crack the case wide open, we’re suddenly confronted with “the revelation” that the killer is actually his partner, and now the stakes have just gone up, and everyone has a lot more to lose.
Well, on a date “the revelation” itself can often murder any chance you have of finding out if Mr. (wannabe) Right is the “one”. On a date, those “surprises” that bring you to the edge of your seat in the movies, are rarely exciting and never fun. Because on a first date (even the first couple of dates) who wants to know what “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” you’re date has suffered or if he’s just plain weird?!
Take the really great date I had with this guy who was “a few” years older than me. I’m just coasting along as he glibly checks off the successes he’s had in his life. I’m so enjoying his clever banter that I almost miss “the revelation.”
“I was only twenty-one when my uncle sent me a ticket to the Academy Awards. Don’t ask how he got it, but he knew that Kevin Costner was my favorite actor. He even sent a plane ticket. Do you know how many Oscars his movie won?”
“Seven,” I answered nonchalantly. You can’t be a serious actress and not know the Oscar Winners.
My date was impressed. I was appalled by “the revelation”. Dances With Wolves won the Oscars in 1990. I was no math whiz but if he was twenty-one in 1990 (when I was turning seven) then he was FORTY years old!
Kudos to his plastic surgeon.
Of course, not every revelation is so dramatic. Take my knight in shining armor – great body, full head of hair, piercing blue eyes, and a Jewish background that mirrored my own – who just had to admit that he’s very into me… but that he’s also very into men.
How about cutie who took me to dinner and while ordering the main, informed me that he had an enviable track-record of three failed suicide attempts after being dumped by previous girlfriends (I left before dessert).
Or Mr. nice-guy who “forgot” to mention he has a girlfriend who he’s currently living with and would I mind if he checked in with her – she gets lonely without him.
And my personal favorite – the 30 year old datemeister who suddenly excuses himself as he answers an “emergency” call from his mother. Emergencies are emergencies, but then I actually get to “hear” the revelation as his speaker-phone turns on in the middle of his conversation.
“And sweetheart,” his mother says, with a wonderful Hungarian accent, “don’t be shy. If you need an advance on your allowance, just ask. I know how pricey these restaurants can be. Is she worth it? Oh and did you take the key? Should I wait up? Don’t eat dessert. I baked your favorite cookies. I’ll leave you a few to munch on before you go to sleep.”
As all eyes focused on the both of us, I sheepishly smiled, wanting to shout out “I WAS FIXED UP! THIS IS A BLIND DATE! PLEASE BELIEVE ME!”
Just once I would like “the revelation” to be “Oh, and besides being head over heels in love with you, I’m a millionaire and my plane is even now being warmed up to take us to Paris.”
Or how about, “Yes, Tiferet, I’m bald, but that’s because I donated my long, blond hair to Locks of Life.
So, last Friday, when I met my blind date I was glad I had experienced the above scenarios. I thought I was prepared for anything.
But Murphy’s Law saw fit to trip me again.
After a lovely dinner, with a wonderful bottle of wine, just as we were having our dessert and I truly believed everything would be at least okay, “the revelation” arrives.
“And this is my dog, and this is my nephew,” he moves closer to show me the pictures on his cell phone. “And… oh man, I must have forgot it. I was sure I brought a picture of my baby.” He shrugs and places the phone on the table.
“Who’s your baby?” I ask warily. “A sports car? Harley Davidson?”
He looks at me, confused.
I cringe, choking on my ice-cream dessert. He gets up to gives me the Heimlich Maneuver. I cringe again. “No thanks,” I say under my breath, “I’d rather die.”
“Pardon?” he says.
“I’m sorry, I thought I heard you say you have a kid,” I answer out-loud.
“I do,” he looks at me, as though I had said something strange. “Didn’t Liza tell you that when she set us up?”
“No. She told me that she had a great guy for me… who was everything I was looking for – and more…” I smirk. “I don’t suppose More is the name of your son?”
“Well, didn’t you catch my hints along the way?”
“If by hints you mean when I told you I babysit in my spare time, and you said that was good to know – No. I didn’t realize I was being interviewed for an actual position.”
“What about when I said that I was sure you could teach me a few things?” The image of me teaching him how to use Wipe n’ Dipes honestly never crossed my mind.
“Sorry to catch you off-guard,” he tells me as I desperately try to catch the waiter’s attention for the check. “This must have come as a total shock to you.”
“Oh no, me?” I reply a little too quickly, in a shrill voice that projects anything but calm. “Nah, I’m used to this sort of stuff…. Guys I date have kids, kids I watch have dates…and then there are those kids who eat dates and the dates who eat kids….” I suddenly stop when I realize he isn’t blinking. “But I digress. Enough about me, let’s talk more about your dynasty. Is it one boy or a gaggle of guys? ”
“I’m sorry,” he says gently. “This must have come as a total surprise.”
“Don’t worry,” I reply in a far-away voice I don’t recognize. “I live for surprises… In fact, nothing would make me happier than to learn that you haven’t even finalized the divorce yet.”
Where is that waiter?
I hold back the tears and the screaming person inside me. “See, I love this stuff. Is your son in the car?”
“No, I mean. I never got married. It was… um…. Unexpected.”
“Do you mean you didn’t know whether it would be a boy or girl?” I ask naively.
“No…uhh….. we just went on a few dates…. We didn’t mean to make a kid. It was uh…. An accident.”
There is a strange silence as I finally understand what he’s saying. “Well… I’m sure you learned your lesson….” I say, waving my finger at him. “You’re a naughty boy,” I add, wondering if I could make him sit in the corner (until I make my getaway).
He collects the pieces of cloth napkin that I have apparently torn apart, into his outstretched palms. But in my mind I see him holding a bottle and squirting drops of milk onto his wrist. Then, looking up at me, I think I hear him say,
“Uh…I’m not sure, let’s test it on you” as he squeezes milk onto my wrist.
“Too hot!” I cry suddenly.
“I mean… too much.” Then I quietly add, “I think this is too much for me.” I get up and leave.
But dates, like movies, sometimes have unexpected endings. Later that night, he sends me an email with pictures of his baby. I grab my microwave popcorn, and sit down to read his email. What could he possibly have to write? I thought I had made it pretty clear we were over.
But again, endings have a funny way about them. Sometimes the movie finishes an hour after it should have. And sometimes you find the credits are rolling up the screen way before you were ready for them.
I scroll down the pictures to the text, and read:
“At least let me tell you what I WOULD have wanted to hear—I promise it’s not yours!
You aren’t gonna’ let a small thing – 7 pounds, 2 ounces—stop us, are you?”
As I crunch down on a kernel of popcorn, I grin. Because the truth is, as much as I love movies, I have to admit that sometimes, even after viewing a good one, I come out of the theater a little confused, wondering… could it be I missed the point entirely?