Tag Archives: Vermont

The Paid Acting Gig

Jana: In college, I was an Actor. Here’s what I mean by that: In college, I minored in theater, I auditioned for all the plays, and I was occasionally cast as topless leads. And like all of my acting colleagues, my dream was to get a paid acting gig. Today, I share the story of my first ever (I mean also last, but you know) Paid Acting Gig. A thrill!

The summer of 2006 was spent in Burlington VT; my first time living in an apartment instead of moving home for the summer. And although I spent June locked in my room with a crushing depression that only abated when I finally found steady employment (The Gap stepped in and gave me a job, so. Support them if you can.), by July I was the happiest of 20-year-olds, working days, drinking nights, and generally doing stupid things in a large group of fellow actors.

When August rolled around, we all started to hear tell that there was a thing happening – this gig, this acting opportunity – that was paid. Our ears perked up. What was it, exactly?

Listen. It was the Date Rape Play.

Yes, you heard me. It was a thing called the Date Rape Play (literally, it didn’t even have a gentle subtitle), and it was performed each year for the incoming freshmen as part of orientation, so that they would be clear about knowing they might be raped at some point/what rape was. Here is the plot of the play:

Girl and guy are BEST FRIENDS. But, guy has a douchy brother, who is in a FRAT (bad). Frat boy brother invites girl and guy to party! They go, and they get pretty drunk (BAD). Afterwards, they go back to boy’s room, and make out. Guy is like, let’s have sex, girl is like, no, guy does it anyway (the lights fade as they’re making out, but it’s clear what has Happened).

NEXT MORNING, Girl is deeply confused and upset. She talks to her Lesbian Best Friend about it, who encourages her to tell the R.A. Girl does, and Boy is expelled from school.

That’s mostly it!

The woman who ran the date rape operation generally hired enough theatrically-inclined people to comprise like four casts, and each actor was paid $200. I called to inquire, and after a brief phone interview, I was cast in the play. And – big news – I was cast as the Rapee. (I told this story to someone once, and when I got to this part he was like, you mean the victim? And I was like, oh yeah, I guess that’s more appropriate to say.) So yeah, I was cast as the victim. Or, in my mind, THE STAR. It was fairly exciting, as these things go.

Rehearsals were hilarious. My cast included one of my friends as the lesbian, another friend as the frat boy brother, and a third friend as the person playing two parts (the lesbian’s girlfriend and the health center representative, who I believe was named Willow). Who, you ask, was playing the rapist? Well, let me tell you. Picture this:

He was in his 30s, and when I asked what he did he told me that he “DJ’s downtown sometimes.” He was short with a curly ‘fro sort of haircut and glasses, and he wore a necklace. Also, he was in his 30s and had agreed to be in this play with a bunch of 20-year olds. ALSO HE HAD TO PRETEND RAPE ME.

Regardless, my friends and I laughed our way through the month of rehearsals (my onstage rapist totally tried to be part of the group but we weren’t that welcoming), memorizing just insanely bad dialogue that included lines like  “You got the look girl, work it!” . And then, finally, the day came. The freshman had arrived, and they were piled into the theater, waiting nervously to make fun of whatever was about to be presented to them. We knew we wouldn’t let them down.

And we didn’t, and here’s why: my onstage rapist actually, and I am not kidding, PLAYED THE RAPE SCENE FOR LAUGHS. The dialogue is something like “come on, I love you!” and he was sort of like, bouncing up and down and just saying it like it was a joke. The audience loved it. Meanwhile, I was acting out my own rape so, you know. I didn’t love it as much.

That’s mostly all! Somehow we got through it, and afterwards we had a party that everyone just referred to as the date rape party (not even on purpose, it wasn’t like a THEME, it was just a statement of fact. It was the party after the date rape play).

Taken at the date rape party. Obviously, my starring role had gone to my head.

We collected our $200 and started junior year refreshed.

Catherine: I think we’re about to get judged, and hard, because I too was in the date rape play, different cast. Same deal. Everyone in the cast was friends, the rehearsals were a total joke, and we learned that rape could (and should) be funny if it was meant to entertain. I played WINNIE – not Willow – BUT WINNIE. The character was based off the person at our school who actually had that job, and hadn’t had the foresight to get a name change before beginning her life of ridicule stemming from her truly ridiculous name. Someway, SOMEHOW, this first paid acting gig did not deter me from pursuing acting (SHUT UP). Perhaps it is responsible for the fact that I only do comedy, though.

To the best of my knowledge, they still do this show every year. To the knowledge of my knowledge, I still say “You got the look girl, WORK IT!” every year, at least once.

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My Deli Job, Myself.

Jana: I went to the Shaw’s deli counter after work today, which I don’t usually do anymore, but I needed some turkey for reasons that are annoying to explain and have to do with my being lazy about making lunch. I stood in line behind a woman who asked the fresh-faced deli guy if he could tell her which was more moist, the chicken or the turkey. “If you know that kind of thing, of course,” she said. He responded, “Oh, I know. I got all kinds of deli knowledge.”

I believe that he does, because I once did, too. I stood and watched the other deli kid take his hat off and grab his jacket to start his break, while the third deli girl slowwwwly put on her stupid plastic gloves. Meanwhile, a line was forming behind me and people were obviously pissed about the wait, and the first kid was still discussing moisture-levels of turkey vs. chicken. Immediately, I felt 19 again.

Because, YOU SEE CHILDREN, I once worked behind a deli counter. And when I say once, I mean twice, including one christmas vacation. It was the summer of 2005, and I came to the deli counter at Johnny’s Foodmaster, the sketchier of the two grocery stores in my hometown, purely out of desperation for a job. I applied to work as a cashier, but only a deli job was available – would I be interested in that? Sure, I told Dave, the Deli Manager, when he interviewed me in a small, claustrophobic back room of the supermarket. “Are you afraid of fish? Because you have to deal with fish sometimes.” Naw. “Then you start Monday.”

So, after a long, safety video-filled orientation at the HEAD Johnny’s Foodmaster branch, located in an arguably even sketchier location in Somerville, I was off. I was given a “FOODMASTER” hat (which I still own, and which has been utilized at MANY parties) and a long white coat, and immediately got to work memorizing the numbers that corresponded with the meats. I also learned quickly how to estimate when I’d cut a pound or a half pound (100 slices of Land-O-Lakes = a pound, generally), and became really adept at dashing up and down the back stairs to replenish the supply of low-salt turkey, or whatever it was that was needed at that particular busy moment.

A quick picture of me in mah Foodmaster hat, partying. As you can see by my facial expression, I thought this was very cool (but I remember that party specifically, and I know that I did NOT look cool).

My co-workers were HILARIOUS. First was a small asian woman, a long long time deli employee and a huge favorite among the regulars. One time during a long boring shift, it came up that I’d never had lobster before, so she cooked me one in the room downstairs. We ate it behind the counter (illegal/health violation, I’m sure). Another time, we were rolling salami for a deli platter, and she goes “Look! Like we rolling joints!”. She danced around a lot – a tiny, tiny woman she was. It was amazing.

My other co-workers included a tall black man who was the first person to tell me to start saving my money. When he heard I was an English major, he told me every day to switch to nursing. Wisely, I stood my ground, knowing that literature would pay off in the end (HELP ME I’M BROKE I’LL GIVE YOU MY KIDNEY FOR YOUR NURSING DEGREE). But, it was because of him that I started putting money into savings and could then afford to drink comfortably for the entirety of my sophomore year of college.

The other co-workers were more white, my age, and male. They were sometimes creepy but mostly just a good time. One of them often smoked pot in the walk-in freezer and then worked the rest of his shift with SUPER red eyes. And, one of them was mentally handicapped, which I don’t mean to make fun of except I will say it was real annoying sometimes and listen, it just wasn’t necessary to ask every customer how thin they wanted the slices when we had a huge line snaking around the neighboring bakery section and the creepy cashier guy was coming by to go, “Pretty busy over here, huh Jayna?”

The weird thing is that I was really, really good at this job. I got more hours than any of em. Dave, my manager, LOVED me (although he did called me Jenna, which I encouraged via my usual silence). But he sort of made me his apprentice, and even taught me how to filet a salmon. I really liked this because when people came in and saw me do it they were always really surprised that such a tiny child girl could filet a salmon, and I was like, yes that’s right bitches I WILL CUT YOUR FISH, bring it. It was great.

It was also an excellent study in humanity. For example, people do buy pounds and pounds of roast beef at 7 AM. People DO ask you to cut brisket five minutes before closing, and you DO lie to them and say you’re all out of it, because that shit gets everywhere and you’ve already cleaned the slicer and you’re late to go drink keystone lights in your parents’ basement. Also, People Do Buy Ham Salad In Large Quantities, But Only Lonely People.

I will end today with a final observation, a question that I have long pondered and returned to time and time again. Do people eat ham salad BECAUSE they are lonely, or are they lonely as a RESULT of eating ham salad? I honestly don’t know. All I know is that I could tell from a mile away when someone was gonna ask me to scoop out a pound of ham salad, even if I had forgotten to toss it recently and a crust had formed on top. I could tell because he or she was weird as fuck. Usually sort of disheveled and wearing some kind of cotton pants, the kind that are baggier on the top than the bottom. Clearly this person had only left the house FOR the ham salad, to then return to eat it among his or her cats/other gross animals while watching weird, lonely tv shows. Such people were often known to ask for a pound of olive loaf, as well. All I could do was comply and offer a sad smile. And wonder if their spouse had left when the ham salad smell became too much, or if the spouses’ disappearance had driven them to the saddest, grossest item at the deli counter, carefully scooped into a plastic container by yours truly.

Here, I wear the hat to another party, this time including my Johnny’s name tag. You’re unfortunately able to see here that I am wearing it with a corset, an item of clothing that I thought was AWESOME. You are luckily UNABLE to see the baggy jeans with which the corset was paired – but, sadly, they are there.

So there you have it: my first summer at Johnny’s. I also lost my virginity that summer, which I can only imagine happened due to my newfound confidence at being able to filet a salmon. But don’t worry, friends. I also later worked at a deli in Vermont, where the hairstyles were entirely still living in the 70s and the salad bar was never at a legal temperature. I’ll get to that another time.

Catherine: I am going to begin by addressing the corset/hat/baggy jeans picture. On the one level, I LOVE it, because it is so nineties. (As you should know, 90’s fashion is my jam. Plaid mini skirts, knee high socks, baggy pants, I’ll take 60 of each.) In fact, just the other night, a friend complimented me on the corset I was wearing! This backfired quickly when I had to explain that, no, this is not a corset you are seeing from the back, but rather, my belt is pushing my dress and fat out towards you at an alarming rate (Jana – you were there – my belt looked like a corset on Friday?… why you no tell me I looked monstrous?)

MOVING ALONG – I am surprised that you didn’t mention the second time you worked at a deli counter. Everyone, this was the summer that we worked at Friendly’s and Jana hated it so much that she went off to work at a deli counter, where she had to wear khakis and a maroon shirt to work. I almost vomited typing that you guys, but that may have more to do with the fact I am in lying in bed, running late to work, because I am experiencing (BOYS – LOOK AWAY) cramps that could and may murder me.

In closing, Jana and I have determined that working at a deli is the only thing she may be good at. I hope this doesn’t indicate a future of ham salads, but it just might, people. It just might.

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If You Can’t Swim, Don’t Take A Swim Test

Catherine: As a youngster, I went to a Catholic Lithuanian Heritage camp in Vermont. It was awesome. I get that you don’t think it’s awesome, but that’s only because you are judging. Stop it. It was awesome. Except maybe for my brothers the short week they came, when their sleeping bags were set on fire. They didn’t think it was too great.

At camp, every day had a pretty similar outline, with swim time coming after lunchtime. After getting either a soda or an ice cream (it was also a health camp), we lined up with our cabins and walked down to the pond, which had a leech problem. Like, if you went in, you were gonna wanna make sure you didn’t just get ‘leeched.’ The most prominent leech spot was the shallow end, which was also not the cool hang out spot.

The cool hang out spot was the dock. You could only hang out on the dock if you passed a swim test, which meant that you could swim, oh say, 30 feet and back, or some really stupidly short distance, without drowning. And then you had to tread water for two minutes or until the lifeguard got sick of watching your head bop unenthusiastically up and down. I REALLY wanted to hang out on the dock, and for this I convinced myself that I COULD swim, despite every bit of evidence to the contrary (largely, that I had never been able to do so.)

I went at the same time as my friend, Alex, which calmed my nerves (which were REALLY JUST WAY TOO LOW FOR SOMEONE WHO COULDN’T SWIM). We got to the little floating rope thing, me doggy paddling just marvelously, and then I starting sinking (since I couldn’t swim). So I thought Alex would get my back and let me lean on her a little. Well, that backfired when she yelled out (and I can still hear this ringing in my ears) “She needs help!” Oh, good god. For someone taking a swim test so she could hang out with the cool kids, I really needed to have thought about the implications of making the too-cool-to-jump-in-the-water counselor rescue me.  It didn’t make me any cooler, you guys. It made me  LESS cool.

The counselor inquired, why did you take the swim test?? And I probably mumbled, “I thought I could swim… but I guess not…”

Sulking back to the leech infested half of the pond, everyone was staring at me, and asking if I was ok – I wasn’t dead, so just drop it guys. Don’t wanna talk about it. If I were to guess,  I was fighting back tears as I headed back to read my Baby-sitters club book on my towel.

I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. So, guys, if you can’t swim – don’t take a swim test. You can’t swim. You will fail.

You can’t tell from the picture, but that dragon is covered in white glitter. This was taken the summer of the incident – 1998.

Jana: Oh, Cathy. Poor Cathy. This reminds me of endless horrible camp experiences (my parents sent me to “Adventure Camp”; Adventures TERRIFY me), a similarly embarrassing swim test experience, and a bad leech experience. So yes, we’ve all been there (or possibly just me and Cath). I forget if Cathy can swim now, but I feel like she can’t, and this story brings a lot of things together for me.

Also, just so everyone knows, Cathy once told me about a “Genocide re-enactment” day that took place at this Lithuanian Camp. Apparently, they put the children into vans and blindfolded them and some other stuff that she’ll probably share at some point. She told me this story while we drove from Vermont to Boston, and I thought she was kidding most of the time. Then I realized that she was NOT kidding, and felt like I should take some kind of legal action on behalf of the Lithuanian children. I have to, I thought! But then I thought, ah well – someone else will take care of it.

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