It came right out of the wall. The hot water faucet. Not just the faucet. The stem, too. Along with the hot water. Lots of it. It was like a scene in a silent comedy where the hapless hero tries to plug up a hole in a dam, but the water is shooting straight out horizontally in a geyser. Only I was the hero and it wasn’t exactly silent.
“Not now, I have an audition!”
An important one. For a feature film. The casting director had contacted me from her files. She’s called me in a time or two in the past. It’s always nice to be remembered for something I did at a workshop or at a previous audition. She must have needed to fill a role quickly and rather than run a breakdown and sift through submissions, she went through her files and called in a bunch of actors she felt could pull it off.
It seems I was one of those, although at the moment what I had pulled off was not what I had intended. Getting it back on and stopping the water from shooting across the bathroom and hitting the opposite wall would take more time than I had available at present. What I needed to do was finish getting ready and be out the door within the next half hour.
Fortunately, I am the kind of person who stays calm in emergencies and can think quickly. Knowing that I was home alone, and therefore the only one who would be inconvenienced if the water was turned off, I let the hot water fill up the bathtub a little and then shut the main valve to the entire house. I figured I could continue what I was doing as if nothing had happened, then after the audition I could call the plumber and have the problem fixed. Besides, isn’t gushing water good Feng Shui? Perhaps it was a good omen. Rushing water meant fortune coming my way. Maybe I was going to get this part?
Somehow, I was able to stay on schedule and get out the door on time. My hair was dripping wet, but at least I was clean shaven and dressed for the part of a computer technician. In the scene I would be reading, I am joking with the leading lady while standing at the coffee machine in the office break room. It’s first thing in the morning, so wet hair might be just fine for my character. He could have had a mishap in the shower himself while getting ready for work, right?
When I walked into the room, the young director asked me how my day was going so far. It was tempting to answer with an amusing anecdote about the events of the previous half hour, but I’ve always heard it isn’t a good idea to share “A funny thing happened on the way to this audition” stories. Better to be professional and let your work speak for itself, rather than come across like a kook and create a bad impression.
“Fine, thank you.”
That’s all he got from me. Quite proud of that. In addition to my ordeal in the shower that I was dying to joke about, the director was wearing a tee shirt with a logo that was begging for a funny line. He also looked alarmingly like Daniel Radcliff and Harry Potter references were bouncing around in my head so fast I was sure one would slip past my tongue before I could utter “Reparo!” or “Obliviate!”
When I read the scene, I did a spit take. For those unfamiliar with that, it’s a bit of schtick performed while drinking coffee or tea or whatever. Just before the funniest line, you take a sip and then quickly spit it out in reaction to the joke. I came prepared with my insulated thermal mug especially.
It worked. The director laughed. Then a second time, at the little take I did after the last line of the scene. I stopped myself from laughing with a quick change of expression to something solemn. Rapid transitions can be funny, and I could tell I was the only actor who had thought to add that in the final moment. The director was not expecting it, and laughed out loud.
The casting director was there, too. In fact, she was the one reading with me. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, as some casting directors are on auto pilot and read the scene as if they are browsing through a recipe book. Fortunately, this casting director was not one of those. She was fully engaged with me, and went right along with whatever direction we were given. She even ad-libbed a bit when we were asked to, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing opposite her.
When I walked back out into the lobby, I felt good about how things had gone, but a quick look around told me not to get my hopes up too high. When a casting director pulls actors from their files, they often select a wide range of types. To give the client options. So, the other guys reading for the part looked nothing like me. One guy was about twenty-one and pudgy. He had frat boy energy. Sloppy tie. Shirt untucked. Another gentleman looked to be about sixty-five, with a long grey beard! He was dressed in a suit and looked like a character from Brigadoon. How they will cast this role is anyone’s guess. I shrugged and left the building.
That’s odd. There’s a padlock on the gate. The gate that leads to the parking lot where I’ve left my car.
When I drove up to this address, I recognized it as one of the places I used to visit all the time back when casting directors accepted hard copy submissions from unrepresented actors. They don’t do that anymore, everything is done online now. Still, being familiar with this particular area proved handy, as parking here can be difficult. I knew exactly where to find a space. The building next door was a dentist’s office, with apartments on the second floor and a small parking lot in the back. I didn’t remember there being a gate, and so did not pay any attention to it when I pulled in.
Why would it now be locked? I walked around to the back. Through the chain link fence, I could see my car all alone in the otherwise empty parking lot. How strange. If people lived in those apartments, it did not make sense that the lot should be empty and the gate closed with a padlock.
As I walked back to the front of the building, I saw the sign. Not portent, or presage. Actual sign. Mystery solved. The building was for sale, and was most likely vacant. The lock must have been put on by the realtor. The gate must have been open while they were showing the building to a prospective buyer, then closed without realizing an actor had pulled in to make use of the free parking while auditioning next door.
When I called the number of the realtor, there was no answer. After business hours by now. Funny, I did not get upset. My bicycle rack was in the trunk. I could just walk home now and ride my bike back in the morning. It wasn’t far.
As I headed home, I found myself laughing. First, the water came gushing out of the wall. Now this. The way I saw it, I was meant to be called back. My car was staying at the audition. I was going to have to return. It’s another sign. I’m going to get the part.
Three weeks went by and, honestly, I had forgotten about the whole thing. You can’t invest too much in every audition, you’d drive yourself nuts. I got home that evening and called the plumber. Picked up my car in the morning and went on with my life.
Then the call came. I had been cast. Sometimes it just works out that way. Most times not, but when it does, it sure feels nice.