Friday, February 10, 2012

Chapter 18 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free- Spirit Professional

PART 3 - Strippers and Clowns

It was official.  I was no longer on unemployment.  I received my last check yesterday and I wondered how life could be so cruel.  I knew the end was coming, I just didn’t think it was this week.  Being the handicapped mathematician that I was, I mistakenly calculated the weeks remaining and thought I had at least two more checks coming.

It sucked because, instead of basking in the glory of a successful gig, I now had to figure out a plan of action to make some money.  I still couldn’t believe how many people came out to show their support.  There were tons of people from the Madsen Group including Scott - who never goes out.  My parents were there; along with both aunts and uncles.  Even Tony showed up to hear a few songs.

The Cove had never seen so much business and the kitchen went down hard, falling behind upwards of thirty minutes and running out of almost everything.  Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves despite the ineptitude of the restaurant.  My regulars were especially rowdy – god bless ‘em – screaming for more each time I bid the crowd, good night.  And like the kitchen, I ran out of stuff to sing, finally ending the show after three encores. 

At first I was nervous and struggling to keep my legs from shaking.  But there was so much love in that restaurant, my nerves quickly dissipated once I got the first song out of my system.  It was such a thrill having so many people come together – like a funeral, without the dead person.

Albert manned the bar and told me later that the owner wanted me back once a month.

“Though, you gotta charge him next time, Liz.  They made a killing tonight.”

Charging to sing?  Now, there was a concept.  That meant I could actually pay my musicians with someone else’s money.  As ecstatic as I was about the gig’s success, I still had to come out of pocket to pay Kevin and Jerry.  Getting paid next time seemed like a good plan.

Getting paid next week also seemed like a good plan and I had to figure out what to do to make up for my lost unemployment.  Going back to corporate was completely out of the question.  I would rather live on Tostito’s and Ramen noodles than set foot in an office.  I was going to find something; I just wasn’t sure what.

“What about bartending?” Marla, my friend from the Madsen Group, asked when I called to break the news.  “Why not get a job somewhere else that’s busier?”

I wasn’t ready to be a real bartender.  The Cove was a great starting point and I did well with what I had, but I couldn’t handle a bar that had more than six people at a time.  Not yet.

I picked up a copy of Backstage – the actor’s trade paper – and combed the Help Wanted Section.  There were tons of catering jobs and calls for babysitters and dog walkers, but nothing appealed to me.  Walking my own dog was enough of a challenge and I did enough grown-up babysitting at the Cove.  I wanted to do something that was fun.

At the bottom of the page was an ad for a Children’s Party Performer.  I could do that!  Plus, the name of the company was Focus on FUN.  It had to be a sign.

 Without hesitation, I picked up the phone and dialed.

“Focus on Fun!” said the upbeat, women’s voice on the other end.

“Uh, hi.  Yes, I’m calling about the ad in Backstage.”

“Oh!” she squealed with delight.  “Are you a performer?”

This lady even sounded fun.

“Uh, yes, I am.”

“Great!” More squeals.  “Why don’t come in for an interview on Monday?  We can sit down and see where your strength’s are.”  She paused.  “Do you do balloon animals?”

“Yes, I do!” I lied.  How hard could it be?

“Terrific!  You can show me what you can do when I see you on Monday.”

And just like that, I had a job interview!

I had some work to do, though.  How the hell do you make a balloon animal, anyway?

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