When I saw the letters printed out on the front wall instead of just the usual numerals I had a little internal shiver of disapproval. How pretentious. I mean, what’s wrong with the normal 99 Bay Drive? Why ‘ninety nine bay drive’, without the grammatically correct capitals? I was outside this stone and concrete triple story construction that was launching itself at a jaunty angle into the blue sky, for an audition. An audition to audition really. I was meeting the director of the project, who needed to see whether I ‘got the concept’ well enough to be able to qualify for an actual audition. As I rang the bell I swung from the outrageous confidence of, “these people will be blown away by how damn good, clever and versatile I am” to the bleak negativity of, “why am I doing this to myself, I am such a con artist, a busker and it’s all such total bullshit.”
I could hear the sound of the electronic doorbell ping and echo through an obviously not carpeted space. And of course, from somewhere inside, the dogs started yapping. It was the high pitched, hysterical Pavlovian yapping of dogs who do this every time the doorbell rings. I waited. The make up I had applied was beginning to itch in the sun. I knew it was going to start smudging under my eyes, and that little sweat beads would push through onto my upper lip and forehead if I didn’t get inside soon.
I rang again. There was the subtle click of magnets releasing and the door moved a centimetre. I pushed and entered. The passage was cool. A giant ball stood in an atrium, spewing water from an invisible hole. The water trickled over the expanse of concrete ball and then puddled in a pool below, to be sucked up again, but there was something wrong with the little pump and it was grinding and churning. The dogs sounded even further away, now that I was inside. I pictured them upstairs, locked in a bedroom for the day, and then wondered if people actually lived here, during normal non audition times.
A childlike person sat at a little table at the end of the passage with an iPhone glued to his ear. He didn’t say anything over the phone, or to me as I approached him. There was a pile of forms on the table and he handed me the top one, and a number, hand-written in black felt pen on a sticky label. 99. I was person 99. I was the 99th person that was ‘being seen’ by the director.
I sat on one of the black plastic chairs that had been lined up against the stone wall of the passage. There are two ways of looking at this, I thought. 99 is a sign. Or, dear gods of insults and disappointments, 98 others have come before me. The tiniest movement caught my eye. A spider was suspending itself from a rough piece of up-to-date-and-fashionable stone outcrop in the wall.
The child-man clicked his fingers and I looked at him. Still holding the phone to his ear, he mouthed silently at me. “Running late.” I was not surprised. In a flash I knew today was going to be the ‘it happens in 3s’ day. In a vision of absolute clarity I knew I would be sitting there for 99 minutes. Another decision. Do I stay and get progressively more furious and unable to produce a decent representation of myself, or do I cut my losses and leave, saving 99 minutes of my life?
And I had thought all of this, imagined it all in the 99 seconds after receiving the brief, in an email, from my agent, with the address of the audition location printed boldly at the top.
Claimer. This entire story is true. It happened to me, but maybe not all at once. It is a collection of tragic audition experiences. Except for the last paragraph, which is creative licence and an attempt at making it all a little bit more tolerable.
This post is one of nine tandem blog posts, all with the same topic, and all released at the same time. Please check out the other offerings by these amazing writers.