So here we are.
It has been about six weeks since I turned 40.
This means that I am “over 40.” That is clear. I know this to be true. It sucks, but it is true. I have never been one to lie about my age, and I certainly have been more than forthcoming about it on this web...blah...log.
But it’s really hard to check a little box that reads +40.
When I go to commercial auditions (mostly voiceovers), there is a sign-in sheet where actors put down their respective names, agencies, direct contact info, and appointment/arrival times. Then there are little statistical boxes to check, mostly for the actor’s unions’ records, where one can mark their gender, race, and age... the only choices for age being -40 and +40.
Way back in my carefree -40 days, I would happily check off all of the pertinent boxes, but I would notice that certain actors would purposely leave all of the statistical boxes blank. Sometimes this is due to haste. Sometimes it’s because no one else has checked any of the boxes and it’s one of those oh, we’re not doing this today days. More often than not, however, it seemed that the people who did not admit to being either -40 or +40 were definitely +40 and just didn’t want to check the +40 box.
How silly, I would think to myself. It’s just a number. How vain these actors be.
Cut to six weeks ago when I suddenly, violently, went from being -40 to +40.
It was easy at first. Some sign-in sheets are different, depending on where your audition is, and there are no little -40 or +40 boxes to check off at all. You just write down your name and agency. There were a lot of those last month. And then came the holidays, with no auditions or sign-in sheets at all to deal with. And yes, there were a few auditions where I simply “forgot” to check off any of those statistical boxes. So what? I thought. Everyone forgets things.
But then, this week, I came to a crossroads.
It had been a long, cold day, and I entered an overheated building. I dumped my heavy bag, filled with my life, on a chair, then proceeded to remove three layers of outer vestments, scarf, gloves, and hat, and piled them all on top of the poor sad buckling chair, then signed in, blowing hair out of my dewey face. Name. Agency. Direct Contact. Appointment Time. Arrival Time. Statistical Boxes: Female, check. Caucasian, check.
I hadn’t left the boxes blank. And I was up to the -40/+40 boxes. The moment of truth.
All of the other gals there had checked -40, whether they were actually -40 or not. All those little -40 checks in a row...
And this is where I turned chicken. Horribly, embarrassingly, full-feathered poultry. I left that box blank. I couldn’t check the -40 box and lie, but I also couldn’t admit to being +40. I know. Just pathetic, right? If this was a 1960s Don Knotts movie, it would be The Ghost and Mr. Me.
But it gets worse. Later, upon leaving the audition, I realized that not only was I a giant chicken, but that I was a stupid one as well... because if you’re going to fill in everything else but leave the -40/+40 boxes blank, it doesn’t take a bloody rocket scientist to figure out that you’re +40.
I checked the box without actually checking the box. How’s that for a stupid chicken?
And I thought I only played them on TV. (...in Muppet form, that is.)
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.