The Boy from Virginia and the Unforseen (Part 1)

As soon as it happened I wanted to run for a mirror. I heard the clink, and used my tongue to taste what felt like something chalky on the back on my front tooth. This cannot be happening, yo, was the first thought to come to mind. I mean, I didn’t think there would be blood, but I felt like maybe, there might be visible wreckage. And if there was visible wreckage, then my dreams of doing a Crest commercial would be out of reach forever…  and all because I’d chipped my tooth on a 69 pence, clay coffee mug. Really, though? What kind of story is that to tell: “Actually, a cheap ass mug took out my tooth while I was in rehearsal for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Isn’t that funny?

Some of my female cast-mates approached me mentioning that they’d heard the tooth and mug connect (was it THAT loud?) and wanted to see the damage. I kept my hands over my mouth (think Miss Celie in The Color Purple, but without the grin) very afraid that if I took them down, everyone’s faces around me would contort from caring and concerned to wowed and wincing.  I wasn’t ready to deal with that. But more importantly, I wasn’t prepared for the possibility that I might have ruined the one good thing about me: my smile. But since there are a lack mirrors in the warehouse where our rehearsals take place, I had to stop mentally screaming Ohmigod and drop my hands and ask very carefully, “Can you see it?”

            Fortunately, my mind made matters much worse than they were. The tooth, which in fact is definitely chipped (there goes my smiling career), is only chipped in a place you cannot see it: on the rear of the tooth, yet the collision happened in the front. I don’t understand how that could’ve happened, but hey, at the end of the day, it could’ve been much more dramatic. So I can smile, at least, but every time my tongue touches the back of my tooth, I am reminded of what I will now call the “tea cup accident.”

            The issue here is that I could not prepare myself for the events of today. Yes, it is a lesson that everyone is taught, and it is a phrase that many people hear multiple times in their lives. Most of the time that phrase is related to losing a loved one or bankruptcy, but we never attribute it to small things in our lives, or to positive things. With small things, like a tooth for example, we are told to let it go and it will heal over time (ha!). With positive things…we forget that we cannot plan for those either. You can try hard as you might to have good things happen to you, but like babies and other “tea cup accidents” of our lives, they can sometimes be just as unexpected.

May 2010

            I’d made the mistake of going shopping at a store and suddenly found myself flirting with staff there.  Upon second visit, and a couple text messages, it was understood that a coffee date might take place. Four hours after second visit,  I got a cancellation of the worst kind: “I’m actually married, I thought you noticed my wedding ring!” Well since I tend not to look down when I’m looking into someone else’s eyes, I guess that little (LARGE) detail sparkled just below my sightline. Initially, I felt embarrassed beyond belief and even admitted it. Then suddenly, I felt anxious as if thousands if people knew that I’d fucked up. Next thing I knew, I was feeling like crap. In my mind I thought, “Are you kidding me? I never pursue, I never date, and the second I try to hook something up as simple as a coffee date, I fail to the highest degree because I wasn’t observant enough?” I felt stupid, which is not a trait I’d like being associated with the Tommy C. brand. How was I to recover from such a mishap? In trying to find a solution to the mistake, I ended up inside my head (which for me is a bad thing especially in moments of self-doubt). 

            I’d begin to question my worth.  More importantly, I started questioning if I was worth knowing. If I could make such a mistake as to fancy (my favorite British term) someone with a wedding band, then what other blunders would I make? I dug deep and ended up sending a message to my Facebook friends asking them what they thought of me. Some told me what they thought, others didn’t. Maybe they didn’t have time, or maybe they weren’t ready to be honest with me, but those who did answer the question had loads to say. It made me realize 1) most people never actually say how they feel about each other in a tactful manner and 2) that like my tea cup accident, I wasn’t prepared for some of the responses. The amount of respect that I now have for those who responded is immeasurable because they told me the truth when I most needed it.

             A couple days later, I got something else I needed: a much desired ego boost.  After my wedding ring fiasco, one of my good friends suggested we hang out so that I could bring myself out of the dark hole I’d climbed into. Karaoke was his drug of choice and funny enough, the performer in me overruled the somber version of me and I agreed that I wouldn’t back down without a good sing!

            After meeting up with a couple of his mutual friends, I sat still feeling completely bewildered at my combination of embarrassment and stupidity from the days before. People were creating a cacophony of wrong notes around me and I couldn’t escape the din in my head. Then…I began a conversation about a passion of mine with someone new. I discussed writing and what it meant to me, which lead to discussion about my career, and then to a conversation about myself…and next thing I knew, I was intellectually attracted. I would come to find out that the feelings were mutual that next day. (…and unfortunately, readers, that’s as far as that story will go for the moment).

Fast forward to later in that week (as the above happened on a Sunday). On that Thursday, I got a call from the woman who would soon be my new director. She told me that she enjoyed my audition for her show Topdog/Underdog, and would be thrilled to have me on board as Booth! My heart leaped into my throat, but I gulped it back down to let her know that I would be happy to be on board. My history with that show went back to my senior year of high school and to work on the show, unpaid or not, was something I wanted to be a part of, period! Part of me knew that I rocked my audition for the show, but to get the part of Booth was unexpected for sure.

And there would be more moments like that to follow, such as getting a call that next week to say that I was cast in a music video for an actress turned pop singer here in the UK or being an extra in a film by a director who I’ve wanted to work with for the past 2 years, booking a gig as a model for banking brochure, or most importantly, being called for my first big paying gig of the year, which is the show I’m a part if right now here in Edinburgh, Scotland.  And the funny thing is, when things happen unexpectedly, they can catch you off guard a bit and throw your life off kilter…even the good things…

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