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GET RICH QUICK—THE DOCTOR DOLITTLE WAY

by Tiferet Peterseil

November 19, 2009 | 1:01 pm

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.

“WATER?”

“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…”

“PHONE?!”

“ 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.

“The cat?”

“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.

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