By Bob Huber: Guest Columist
Today’s lesson is “Hollywood,” and what can be done about it.
Of course, any mention of Hollywood always takes me back to my own thespian career —a fleeting moment when I won my black belt in high drama and joined ranks with such epic performers as Larry, Moe and Curly. It was a high school play.
The entire episode came about because I was overwhelmed one day by blond hair and snarling genes. This certain golden-haired beauty said,
“I’d love to have you try out for a play with me,” and my genes snarled.
“You bet,” I said. “Count on it.”
I would have said the same thing if she’d asked me to confront Godzilla in downtown Detroit armed only with a zither and plate of spaghetti.
Anyway, I was cast as the villainous butler in a murder drama titled “Blood on the Moon.” Rehearsals went well, not withstanding a few futile attempts at smooching behind the sets, until finally we opened in the Little Theater off Coors Pottery Parking Lot, complete with the high school band and an audience of the entire student body.
The first act ended when the blonde, in the role of a voluptuous widow, was poisoned as she sipped eggnog on Christmas Eve. She gagged, grabbed her throat and fluttered dramatically around the stage, finally dropping like the last leaf of summer.
That’s when the main drama of the act took place, because as the curtain closed, she was left stranded on stage in front of the audience, the curtain behind her.
Well, the audience emitted mountainous giggles, and the eyes of this voluptuous blond widow darted hither and yon seeking help as she lay there with no way to rise and gracefully stroll off stage after dying so dramatically.
But I was a quick thinker in those days, so I ran behind the closed curtain, dropped to my knees, and groped for her feet. After a brief moment of uncertainty, I found an ankle and yanked.
“Yeeeup!” the blonde wailed as I snatched her under the curtain. Then in one smooth motion she vaulted to her feet, rubbed her behind and slapped me. “That hurt!” she yelled. “Splinters!” And she bounded into the wings like Bambi’s mother.
The second act proved even more worthy of my talents. What happened was, I offered the hero a cup of eggnog, and my line was, “Don’t be afraid, sir. I didn’t put anything besides nutmeg in the eggnog.”
However, what came out was, “Scared I put something besides eggnog in your nutmeg, sir?”
The audience might have missed the transposition — many were asleep — if the hero hadn’t gaped at me, a bemused expression on his face. So I tried again. “Want some eggmeg in your nutnog?” I paused and tried again. “Poison megnut anyone?”
But the final scene was the high-water mark of the play. I hid in a laundry basket on stage, rubber knife in hand, while the hero exclaimed, “Where is that butler?” That was my cue to leap out of the basket and threaten everyone with terminal death.
The problem was, when I leaped, the lid to the basket wouldn’t open. It had been accidentally locked. I tried to leap again, but only the basket leaped.
The audience cheered my efforts, so I tried even harder, more than once, many times, until the laundry basket and I bounded across the stage, over the footlights, and into the orchestra pit where we landed melodically on a Sousaphone left behind by the terrorized bass section of the high school band.
You can see why I sidestepped a career in the movies. Some performances can never be topped.