Elijah is a fantastic actor. The hysterics he falls into if Luca so much as brushes against him would make Brando quit the biz forever. And you have never seen a more convincing Monday morning illness in your life. That kid does the best "kind-of-flu, kind-of-cold, but maybe allergies, can I watch TV all morning-itis" ever
So Diana has been after him to get into acting. Diana, as we all know, famously starred as “Elbow” in the 1993 movie “Rudy.” She also starred in the cheese commercial where the office worker eats cheese after work clearly laid out for tomorrow’s big business meeting.
She enrolled him in an after school acting club put on by the local theatre. He was game because he no other choice. But also because the alternative was sports. He seemed to like it.
As it turns out, the club is also a feeder system for their plays and everyone is encouraged to try out. Diana was totally jazzed about it. Eli was neutral. I was neutral to negative. So it was off to the audition we went.
As we climbed the steps to the church that served as their audition space, I decided to cast myself in the role of “Super Enthusiastic Dad.” I told Eli it was going to be great and win, lose or draw this was going to be fun and cool and if they were making their decision based on handsomeness he would be a shoo-in.
They immediately scooped Eli up for auditions and I was left to sit on a lumpy, fetid couch. I cast myself as “Slightly Less Enthusiastic Dad.” There was an air of desperation among the budding stage moms/dads I found kind of gross. I also remembered feeling awful for every kid I ever auditioned in my old advertising days. There were also a couple teens running lines nearby in exaggerated, horrible British accents that I wanted to slap.
Our neighbor Chris plopped down next to me to wait for his daughters. He was clearly cast as “Unenthusiastic Dad.”
“I remember when I was a kid, we used to just play. We would leave in the morning and then if we didn’t come home by dinner our parents would become mildly concerned. We didn’t have any of these clubs or plays or whatever these things are.”
“Well,” I said, “We live in Evanston. If we don’t put our kids in clubs and plays they make us go live in Rogers Park.”
Eli emerged from the audition and I resumed my role as “Super Enthusiastic Dad.” I told him I was proud of him and I loved him. He seemed enthusiastic as well, and for the first time in his life seemed as though he might be into something. Not in a detached, ironic for a 9 year old way. Maybe acting would be his thing. Maybe he would follow in his mother’s footsteps and do cheese commercials and be an elbow in a movie and get hit on by Jon Favreau.
Of course he didn’t get the part.
It didn’t crush him or anything, but I could tell he was bummed and I felt strangely like a failure as a father. But he got over it and went back to his true passion: watching Youtube videos.
Yesterday, Diana told him she heard from the theatre that no 9 year olds ever get into those plays and if you keep doing the club, you have a much better chance of getting in next time.
“Great. We’ll sign you up again.”
“No. I meant, ‘okay that makes sense,’ not, ‘okay I am going to do acting club ever again.’”