The unfair part of the whole thing was that Malcolm and Mark had performed this script for years. They could say these lines without hesitation while hung over and while recovering from Corona Virus. My character had been played by a revolving line of women all without a revolving line of good credit. Mark was quick to pullout the Pisces line. He is a giver. I’m really lucky to get this deal. “What’s your sign? Mine is Pisces. I love to help out ladies like yourself in difficult positions.” He is a Pisces. Mark just gives and gives. Mark thinks I don’t know that he is making money for the dealership. Mark actually talks like he believes these flimsy plot lines.
It must not take much effort for me to get into character, even though I’ve never played this particular role before. I’ve been the ingenue but I’ve never been tag teamed by two men in a car dealership. After signing too many lines by the x that Mark had thoughtfully made, I assumed we were finished. He asked me to hand him two of his business cards and as I knocked over the whole clear acrylic display, I realized we were still filming. I fumbled with 200 slick business cards sliding across his brown laminate desk while he stood above me smelling distinctly of polyester and car air freshener. The belt buckle clacked on the edge of the table. I handed him the two requested business cards as I stood up the card holder. As he placed the cards in my envelope of “important papers”, he reminded me that he has given me his personal cell number for me to call him any time day or night.
I can’t really handle anything today.
I feel yucky.
I want to hide.
I want to pretend this episode of Life Sucks filmed in the Subaru dealership never happened. But it did. Malcolm and Mark were my co- stars.
Big round eyes above his Home Depot orange mask, and even though, I was his victim, I had a tiny bit of belief in Malcolm’s humanity. Maybe because he was a black man with a thick Southern accent and photos of children on his bulletin board. He wore driving moccasins which totally makes sense given he is a car salesman. I wondered if Malcolm’s conscience had an inkling of guilt when he saw that my daughter was black and had a disability. If he did, his character did not betray his feelings. The mask may have helped. Once you have performed the script so many times, you learn to squash feelings of empathy for the needy customers and focus on the almighty dollar.
Mark from financing who told me he gave me his personal cell phone number for calls any time day or night wore black pointy toe loafers with a silver buckle. His pants were black stretchy dress pants like a football coach would wear in 1995. Belted and tight. The dealership gave out the embroidered polo made of faux natural material and he tucked the shirt in firmly to conceal any of his manly flaws. His hair was, I expect, kept in place by the use of a aerosol spray possible Aquanet. It was a Dracula light kind of do. Receding and mostly gray. The only decoration in his office was a strange earth tone geometric print bordered with a frame and in the middle of the picture there was another frame this one smaller- where I guess no thief could possibly guess that there was a safe. Maybe the robber would be distracted by the classic car calendar carefully prepared for August 2020. I thought we had all made a pact to burn 2020 calendars. Well Mark might have missed that announcement. He obviously missed the cast meeting about wearing masks. Or maybe he just kept it in his safe.
The punch line of the show is that I overpaid for a brown Ford. What more can I say? I overpaid for a brown Ford. I have never wanted a Ford Fusion. I have never wanted a four door sedan. I have never wanted a car with a rear view camera screen in the middle of the dash. I am capable of turning around when I am in reverse. And the only pride I have left is in my ability to rotate my neck to both the left and the right. With this dash cam, I am nothing.
I’m pretty sure I would rather have any other color car than brown. Yep- I prefer puke green over brown. I overpaid for a brown Ford and Malcolm and Mark my co stars encouraged me to do it. They acted like I wasn’t in on the joke but I knew the whole entire time that no one should over pay for a brown Ford. This wasn’t fucking improv. This was scripted and I have no idea why I played the part. I guess I needed the job?
I don’t think the show will make it past the pilot. Mark was somewhere between a Michael Scott and a Dwight Schrute. And unfortunately, Malcolm was no Jim. He wasn’t quite handsome or endearing enough. He was a little too Stanley.
I don’t know why I would accept this role at this point in my career. I could blame the divorce (lack of credit due to never having anything in my name for 20 plus years), the pandemic, Trump, the humidity, the writers. I don’t have the energy to audition and rehearse for a better role so I went with the character that was the least dimensional and the least confrontational. Just put on the literal mask and wear the figurative mask and smile underneath until my crows’ feet dance. And get out of their as fast as I can. I mean in 2020 in the city of Savannah who has the time or the effort to explain to Mark and Malcolm that I know the blue book cost of the brown Ford.