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Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Receptionist

Rene looked to be in her early 30s and impeccably courteous. It did not occur to me until now that her greetings and smiles, delivered with affectation and theatricality, might have been the result of acting classes. I also could not determine whether the big strawberry blonde bob with a tint of pink was a wig or her own hair. That, the heavy makeup, the false eyelashes, and the mole on her right cheek always led me to mistaken her as a French aristocrat at Louis XIV's court.

Once we chatted about what to do in the City (New York City, there is none else) that weekend --- stranded as I was in Paramus, New Jersey for two weeks. I mentioned Broadway, and she immediately rattled off all the current shows on and gave a brief assessment of each. I barely kept up, thanks to the theater reviews in recent issues of The New Yorker.

"You've got great theaters down in DC, too," she said. "I visit my brother who lives in the area sometimes. You have a Shakespeare theater. Very nice. Very sophisticated. And Arena Stage." She nodded rhythmically.

I mentioned I now lived next door to Signature. It's small and in the suburbs, I said, but it's serviceable.

"I've been to Signature as well," her head bobbed appreciatively. "It's very nice."

I asked her about great performances she had seen.

"I saw a play with Vanessa Redgrave in London," she said. "It's kind of a comedy, you know. She plays a woman visited by her old flame. She was amazing. So good, Jun, the Brits really know how to do it."

As I am writing this, now comfortably sitting at home, the New Jersey project finished and over, it suddenly occurred to me that she could be one of those struggling actors who pay their bills with a menial day job. I'm kicking myself for not having asked her whether she's ever been on Law and Order.

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