Right now I'm in charge of 4 kids who are watching Return of the Jedi for movie night. In full-disclosure of my multi-tasking scenario, I might add that I'm on my second rye and ginger of the evening. I think of myself as someone who recognizes and craves the finer things in life. My relationship to rye and ginger is an anomaly. Rye and ginger is a "Nanny drink." Tim's mom started us on them. For her, it has to be Canada Dry Ginger Ale, but she's never balked at Windsor Canadian, the cheaper version of Canadian Club. There's an even CHEAPER version, Canadian Gold with which I made her a drink 2 nights ago. She didn't bring it up, but, when prodded, she admitted that it might not be as smooth as Canadian Club. Honestly I sort of like that rough edge; I'm becoming a cheap date.
One of the four kids, Jerrod, is not mine. He's been eating since he walked in the door 3 hours ago. He's onto the pistachios now. On his way back to the movie room, he asked me for a bowl for the shells. I handed him one, and he said wide-eyed, "You gotta alotta small bowls!" in his perfect, "What you talkin' about, Willis?" black urban accent. I said, "Jerrod, I make small bowls for a living." He looked at the side of his bowl, shrugged and walked back into the movie room. He's not impressed.
In, yet another attempt to multi-task, I agreed to let a friend, Gavin, film me at the studio answering a few questions. He's got a great gig casting for a Walmart "Real Mom" campaign. Every Tuesday, for a year, he needs to come up with four moms who will agree to do their shopping on camera. Two of the four get $250 to shop and then another $250 credit at Walmart. One of them has to do a commercial. Usually Gavin puts an ad on Craigslist telling moms to video tape themselves answering 5 questions. He forwards the videos to some guy in California, and that's it. He forgot to place the Craigslist ad, so he had to come up with some moms fast. I figured the pink hair would be a Walmart ad deterrent. Although honestly, my multi-tasking capabilities did not extend to thinking through the humiliation of having all of Philadelphia and South Jersey witness my mock surprise in a Walmart ad.
Heather was the other mom. We caravanned to a random New Jersey Starbuck's to meet with the little marketing team. They gave us $250, and we were let loose to shop at Acme. (a local grocery store) Heather and I had spent an entire swim at the pool and another phone conversation plotting what we would buy. We could spend $250, but only on 40 items. It was challenging to come up with that many over $5 things at a grocery store. Both of us are from New England. Clearly we weren't going to get 40 items that came to a penny under $250.
We convened at Walmart to have the contents of our carts analyzed. The pink hair theory wasn't looking good. One of the marketing people had a dyed black overgrown mohawk with clippered pink hair on the sides of her head. The camera guy had shaved eyebrows and a purple/black goth look.
During the cart analysis Heather and I were treated to a tour of the 250,000 sq. foot Walmart by Chris, the rotund manager. He was probably a good looking guy in high school. He commented on his weight every few minutes. He presents his love of food like a fascinating hobby. Some people play piano; others knit. Chris eats. Both Heather and I immediately digressed into our brown-noser-in-high-school persona. We feigned interest, asking pertinent questions about his Walmart. Chris happily responded, and it was fun for the first twenty minutes. An hour and a half later I could only assume that Chris had a little crush on Heather. He'd gone into excruciating detail about his saga with Walmart's corporate headquarters in procuring pork roll for his store. With a proud swipe of a borrowed inventory gun we marveled at how many pork rolls Chris has sold in the past 3 months. I'm still wondering what percentage of those went home with Chris. I'd never heard of pork roll. Shocked, he went into the dietary needs of his mostly-Italian demographic. He was getting a little too deep into the Feasts of the 7 Fishes and directing the bulk of the information to poor Heather. I finally said, "Chris! Heather's kids are named Luca, Ciela, and Gia; She could write a book on Jersey WOP culture."
Sadly, the commercial mom is picked by the percentage of savings she would have gotten at Walmart on her shopping trip. My olive oil and Starbucks coffee put me in a 19% savings category. Heather's Doritos and Reynolds Wrap left her with only a 17% savings. Even though she would have been way cuter on camera, and she would have been happy to leave Rene, her husband, to cope for a day, Heather got to go home. I, on the other hand, had to say, "Awesome!" and "Great!" for the next 6 hours.
My first issue was the make-up artist. She listened to my "less is more" caveat in all areas but lip gloss. I could feel strands of it connecting my lips when I spoke. At 39, I would have just gooped my way through, assuming that she's the expert, but I'm 43 now, so I actually said something every time she re-applied. The next problem was my inability to stop saying "Oh my God!" The chunky Mormon girl from Walmart Headquarters with iridescent purple eye shadow followed us around on the shoot making sure that no legal boundaries were crossed. Once she'd told me I couldn't say "Oh my God!" it was impossible for me to stop. In the bathroom, not peeing on the shackle-like microphone stuck to the back of my leggings while worrying whether the sound guy was listening proved difficult as well.
Dave hopped down the aisle with my Starbuck's coffee in an Easter basket singing Here comes Peter Cottontail effortlessly springing into his spiel. He could look directly into the camera with the right amount of handsome authority, jauntily discussing savings percentages while helping me not collapse into a puddle of "Oh my God's!" That's serious multi-tasking, and it's his gift. I'd just been discussing Justin Timberlake with poor Shaina, my new studio assistant. (Poor Shaina because she has to listen to me talk about stupid crap like Justin Timberlake's willingness to flog Bud Lite) Why the hell would he want to do that? He doesn't need the money? I asked Dave if he got famous, would he still do a Bud Lite ad? He said, "I can't answer that." Maybe doing a Bud Lite ad for Justin Timberlake is like my making a lamp finial.
I had an experience 10 years ago that gave me great admiration for models. I got a call from Danny, my English stylist friend in San Francisco, "CHICKEN, all of my models are too skinny, and YOU'RE TOO FAT! You need to have a 26" waist in 2 weeks to model a $10,000 wedding dress on the local morning TV show." I ate oranges and soup for 2 weeks, and the dress was swimming on me. A professional model, my friend, Jennifer, and I had to turn around on a little stage in these dresses and smile. I was appalled at how effortless the model and Jen flowed as they spun around. I looked like the dwarf next to the little girl in this Velasquez painting. I just don't have that fluid, "Look at me, I'm fantastic" gene.
Tim has gotten countless texts saying, "Did I just see your wife in a Walmart ad?" Picking up Jack Peter at after care, I was greeted with, "When did you start working for the devil?" Apparently there was a print ad too, so I could also be humiliated in front of people who don't watch TV, as well. Perhaps my Walmart ad is running at the same time that I'm blogging. I can be blogging and flogging at the same time. There's always a silver lining.