i went to my manager's place on the upper west side to pick up the sides for a movie audition tomorrow afternoon in the wall street area and decided to run them while walking back up to west harlem. i figured, why not. the weather is changing right before my eyes. i wouldn't be able to stroll home for much longer. it was a breezy night, there was still some warmth in the air. a part of me was visualizing all the snow that would be in the street and on the sidewalk soon, and kind of looking forward to it. i hadn't been out of the house all day. i knew that if i didn't let my mind wander too far, i'd know the lines by the time i got home.
i hit my stride by the time i got to w. 86th street. as i glided past cleopatra's needle a little further up, my mind was in another world -- until someone came out and waved me down. there was an urgency to his salutation that made me think we must have known each other. and we did. but he didn't know it. yet.
he came up to me like he knew me all my life and said that he said he was "digging my vibe" and wanted to invite me to a gig that was happening there this friday: "it's rhonda ross' gig. she's a jazz singer -- she's diana ross' daughter," he said smoothly. "i produced her cd." and then as if to put a cherry on the whole thing, he said, "i'm also her husband."
in a flash, it all came rushing back. where and when i met him years ago and what all that was about. of course, he had no idea who i was. typical.
after i introduced myself, he exclaimed "wow, we were just talking about queen esther the other day." like it was someone else, not the person standing in front of him. of course this made me ask if it was really me that he was referring to.
"maybe you all were thinking of queen esther marrow, the gospel singer that lives in paris? most people do, when they hear my name. she sang with dylan, duke ellington. that was probably it."
"oh, no. it was you. you're a singer and a storyteller, right?"
"i sing, i act and i write."
then he goes, "so what have you been up to?" and i could see him trying to figure out if i was anyone, if i knew anyone, if i was doing anything. and of course, where he met me. in one long sentence, i said something like:
"oh, you've worked with james "blood" ulmer," he goes.
"do you know blood?" i asked.
"of course i know blood," he blurted, almost indignant.
"that's not a given," i said.
"it is with me," he countered defensively.
i had to hold my breath to keep from letting a laugh out in the form of a snort. the next time i'm having a bowl of rice at blood's house, i'm going to ask him if he knew "mr. ross" and i have no doubt that he will have a colorful and interesting little story to tell me. he's always good for cutting to the chase and telling me the straight dope on anything i ask. and i love him for it. "mr. ross" will not be spared.
and yes. if he's going to name drop his wife's momma's name everytime he makes an introduction as casual as ours was, he should just cut to the chase and have everyone call him "mr. ross" from jump.
he congratulated me a little too heartily. it sounded like such a condescending little pat on the head -- "aw, it's so nice that you're out here doing your thing" -- that i almost cringed. people like that don't recognize anything that you do unless you sell 10 million copies or you're rich and famous, or you know somebody, or something along those lines. such sophistry. it just didn't smell right. i looked at him sideways with a straight face. it was like a little piece of el-lay crash landed onto my evening.
the truth is that i met him at his apartment, years ago. helga davis and i went there to meet him about some project or something. i distinctly recall him putting his feet up in a large wooden chair with extended arms and slowly swinging his legs back and forth in front of us, for emphasis. the effect was not unlike a gynocologist's examination chair, stirrups and all. i remember being relieved that there was someone else sitting next to me to see that unbelievable spectacle. who would believe such a thing? i never heard from him again. and then lo and behold, he pops up in front of me on the sidewalk out of nowhere.
jack is right. you really do see them all again. eventually.
i couldn't make it to his gig. i'm planning on going to atlanta to my brother's wedding. even if i weren't, i'd be watching movies via netflix or shredding more stuff and running more lines. i'm down-nesting. i'm spring cleaning. i'm bobbing and weaving through a maze of callbacks. i'm practicing my piano. i'm throwing things away. the more i toss out, the more i find. at last, i'm emotionally ready to cut it away...
needless to say, i gave him my business card. hey, maybe he can get me some studio work. i'm willing to work with anyone, if that's what it takes to get paid. i could care less who they are. or who they're married to.
and guess what, y'all? i've got my lines down cold.