These are some things that happened way back in Baby Face Erin’s life that I still think about occasionally like wow what an impact, who knew.
The Acting Class
In the winter of 7th grade, my friend Liz convinced me to take some kind of acting class with her at the Pittsburgh Play House. I can’t for the life of me imagine why I would have said yes, if my mom forced me to do it or if Liz just made that compelling of a case for it. Because I have never in my life been interested in acting, not even when I was super little and my grandparents used to say I should be in soap operas because of the way I could turn on the tears (and it’s true even in present day that I am a master class in drama but ONLY ON MY TERMS, THANK YOU).
OK so now I’m taking these classes with Liz, I think they are on Saturday afternoons or maybe mornings, and the class is small and cold. I vaguely remember us being the younger people in the class and failing miserably when we had to pair up and shadow each other with our eyes closed. There were legit strangers in the class who succeeded in this exercise better than Liz and me who were, at the time, best friends and spent a ton of time together. Well, we definitely could not feel each others QUOTE UNQUOTE ENERGY, that’s for sure.
But the whole reason I’m telling you this now is that there is ONE INCIDENT involving ONE PERSON that flashes through my mind every now and then and I wonder now if it actually seared a bit of trauma into my brain. Anyway, here is what happened. There was one guy in the class who at the time seemed so old, like he could have been in his 20s, but now that I’m thinking about it I bet he was only around 17 or 18. One of our assignments was that we all had to make up a skit (and no I have no recollection of what my skit was, I either blacked it out or quit going before it was my turn to perform, either option seems very On Brand). The skit that the guy acted out for us involved a poker game that got super heated, explicit, and VIOLENT. I remember VIVIDLY that he was was swearing loudly, kicking over chairs, maybe he even flipped over the table?! I just know that I was TERRIFIED because it didn’t seem like he was acting at all, but it seemed like he was actually projecting some REAL LIFE aggressions onto us and I knew at that moment that:
- this class was not for me
- I never wanted to play poker
I also vaguely remember the acting teacher stepping in and gently putting a moratorium on the skit.
The reason I was thinking about this recently was because we were in the car a few weeks ago going to Buffalo and, coincidentally, Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance” came on and I always associate her with this time in my life because that same year she had released a new album that I used to play on repeat because IT WAS SO GOOD and I started playing some of the songs off it for Henry that day and he was like, “No, I really promise you that none of these songs sound familiar to me at all” probably because this was when he was in his COUNTRY PHASE and playing VOLLEYBALL with the GUYS AFTER WORK while I was in MIDDLE SCHOOL.
Anyway, my favorite song from that album was MOVE WITH ME.
This inspired me to message Liz on Instagram and ask her:
- if she remembers this
- did this even really happen
And she confirmed that yes, she too remembers it. We also reminisced about the time her mom took us to eat at the Elephant Bar after one of the classes, which honestly was worth the torture of those classes because that restaurant was the best place we had in our little area of the South Hills and I’m actually surprised no one rioted the day it closed. THE CEILING FANS WERE MADE TO LOOK LIKE ELEPHANT EARS, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! THEY HAD THE BEST PEANUT BUTTER PIE! IT WAS LIKE EATING ON THE GOLDEN GIRLS’ LANAI!!
When the Elephant Bar closed, by dad went and stole the big metal ELEPHANT BAR PARKING sign and gave it to me. It was in my kitchen forever and now it’s in the garage. I’m hoping someday when/if I ever buy a house, to have a good spot to hang it. It’s huge!
Do You Even Know How To Answering Machine?
You know how when something humiliating happens to you, that’s always the memory that stays the most VIVID, like fucking TECHNICOLOR VISION, in your goddamn memory pouch? Never mind all those blissful, happy moments that you want to sew into your hippocampus like a serial killer patching up his lampshade with victim skin. This isn’t the MOST HUMILIATING thing that has happened to me by a longshot but it was one of the first ones that really made a lasting impression on me and I think about it A LOT, more than a normal human ever should, because I am just pathetic:
I was in elementary school, maybe in 2nd grade? 3rd? And I was calling my BEST FRIEND CHRISTY who never made me take an acting class, and for the first time ever, I was met with the fuzzy SORRY WE MISSED YOU greeting of an ANSWERING MACHINE. At the sound of the beep, PANIC SET IT. I had no idea what to do! So I hung up! Then I called back, prepared this time for the BEEP, and ready to say “HI CHRISTY IT’S ERIN CALL ME BACK” but instead I started talking before the beep!!! The THIRD TIME, I think I might have said “Hi Erin” instead of Christy, and then made some sort of painful, strangulated cry and hung up again. I so vividly remember doing this AD NAUSEUM because I wasn’t comprehending that my fuck-ups were STILL BEING RECORDED AND SAVED even though I wasn’t saying, “OK BYE” at the end. Like hello CHILD ERIN, answering machines can’t intuit when to step in and erase someone’s ERRONEOUS RAMBLINGS. Otherwise, we never would have gotten that classic FRIENDS episode where Monica leaves a message on Richard’s answering machine!
Yeah, so I left probably between 5-10 messages where I cut myself off with frustrated exhales and screams and no one ever mentioned it to me but I bet her parents or older brother listened to them all and snickered before telling her to call her neurotic friend back and maybe consider writing her a script to use next time she calls.
I still panic to this day when I have to leave a message for someone, especially at work, thanks CHRISTY’S ANSWERING MACHINE.
In case you were wondering, my face was flushed and I was so disgusted with myself while writing this DUMB STUPID IDIOT MEMORY UGHHHHH BEEP.