Remember that today the Matron took Scarlett to audition for Madeline and the Gypsies and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe at the highly competitive professional Minneapolis Children's Theater?
And while you knew, crafty reader, that this experience would give the Matron material, you would never have imagined it would get this good. Or tragic.
First, Scarlett did not get a callback for the lead roles in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. But her dear friend Addie did!
And Scarlett screamed with joy and said: "I wanted her to get in more than my own self!"
That's my baby. Me, too! Break a leg, Addie. We're big fans!!!
Callbacks for Madeline and ensemble roles in both show stagger in, and some, not till August. This life is not for the feint of heart or anyone in a hurry. Of course, Scarlett is seasoned and genuinely oblivious to competition.
Remember the Matron's very fine rule for auditioning at high-octane places? She listens but does not partake in conversation.
Over 260 children auditioned. Scarlett smiled as a perky metrosexual male snapped a Polaroid photo and pinned #226 to her dirty t-shirt.
While we were waiting in a large room for the children to be called from our 3:00 group, a mother in expensive everything ushered in her beautiful daughter, Deirdre, who looked about Scarlett's age (9).
There was an 8 x 11 head shot ---and the resume? Two pages!
This mother knew another: they hugged and air-kissed and quickly caught up -- uh, I mean ran down the long list of Deirdre's recent achievements (commercials, film, photo shoots, theater).
Since nobody else in the room was talking (most of these families were fresh meat, staring nervously at their fingers; the Matron, being both pro and sociologist, was unabashedly observing) we all heard every word about short jaunts to Vegas for commercials, complaints about lazy managers, two-week jobs in Paris and wily agents.
Did you know the Coen brothers are still casting for their upcoming made-in-Minnesota movie?
Both those mothers did--and more importantly, who to call.
Deirdre's mother brushed her daughter's hair and ( a Matronly favorite ahead!) removed the child's boots for her and slipped on the shoes. She flipped the child's bountiful black hair into a ponytail and inspected her work.
Did we mention that Scarlett has not washed her hair since last Sunday and auditioned with chocolate on the corners of her lips? The Matron cannot remember the last time she changed this child's shoes. Maybe six years ago?
The mother, not satisfied with the very important ponytail, redid it, three times.
At this point, the Matron fully appreciated the one woman show she was watching. She duly noted that an entire room---25 actors and at least one (sometimes 2) parents,, so make that about 60 total strangers - knew one and only one child's name and what Dedee (we knew the nickname by then too) had been up to lately. And that it was more than you.
The Matron could not help herself. She giggled.
And caught the eye of one parent, who smiled back. Until this point, he had worked with laser focus on his laptop. His teenage daughter was reading a book. But he too, took note of Deirdre and her mother. The Matron and the laptop guy shared raised eyebrows.
After the children trotted off to do their stuff, Dedee's mother and the friend had an intimate conversation.
You know, the kind you save for the privacy of home?
And this is when the remaining 35 strangers learned that Deirdre's 15-year old half- brother from the mother's first marriage is: "Simply not worth the trouble."
Deirdre's Mother: "And I refuse to have him live with us. He just begs. Says his father's new wife hates him. He wants his mother. But I cannot condone the bad grades and all that trouble."
Friend (not also insane or utterly heartless): "Hmmmmmm."
Deirdre Mother: "I mean, he sometimes lies! He is, this is painful, a C student! He has no focus, no plan, no idea what he wants to do when he grows up. I'm sorry, but I just can't risk this. I don't want DeDee to see this as a model for adolescence."
Friend: "Of course not. You have to draw a line."
Deidre's Mother: "So I am just cutting him loose to his father. He accuses me of loving Dee more! Can you imagine? But when he says this, I just balance that scale: straight A's, the acting and modeling, the career -- to constant struggle and failure. I mean, it's not that I love him less but I cannot tolerate what he's doing. So I am just finished. This is in his father's hands."
And this is where the Matron debated the legality of walking over to this woman and beating her over the head until her brain re-arranged itself into some other formation -- something foreign, like love and acceptance for her own child, however unhappy, direction-less (and shall we say, damaged) that child is.
There was more. A lot more about how undesirable that teenage boy is and how he will never ever stand in the way of Deidre's fabulous career. She exhibited absolute disregard and frequent venom for her child. At one point--when the mother recounted how she refused to hire a tutor for the son in math because she would not enable his shortcomings -- the Matron checked the corners and walls to see if there were hidden cameras. Could this possibly be some weird joke? Reality TV?
When she realized it wasn't, the Matron choked back tears. She caught the eye of that father with the laptop, who shook his head and fairly radiated despair.
Torture ended when the children bounced back in. That's when someone said to the laptop guy's daughter: "Aren't you XX? Weren't you Leisl in The Sound of Music at the Ordway this fall? You were Annie! Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz!"
Turns out that the utterly unobtrusive laptop father is parent to one of the hottest child actors in town, the kid who carries dinner theater productions and major shows and has been working steadily for a decade (and she's probably 16).
Proving that decency and scale can be rewarded. The Matron wanted to throw both virtues to the wind and plant a big juicy one on this parent, who pretty much restored her faith in humanity.
And Deidre? She got the callback. Number 431. Daughter and mother squealed and embraced, gave each other high-fives.
Several other children also got callbacks (by the number) but nobody knew who they were.
Tonight, the Matron is thinking of a 15 year old boy who feels unloved by his stepmother. Who doesn't understand geometry and is afraid no college will accept him. Who asked his mother if he could live with her -- and she said no. A 15-year old boy full of fear and hormones and longing, who understands that his mother not only loves him less, but has washed her hands of him.
She imagines this teenage boy a newborn, helpless, rancid with the wet milk smell. Thinks of him at 4, vulnerable and open, waiting for the world to imprint a story on that clean slate. At six, he still sleeps with his blanket and his face falls into something more like a baby than a boy. He's a first-grader, with a Bat Man lunch box and a peanut-butter sandwich. At 11? Cocky, with baseball bat and glove never far away. Now that he's a teen, he is full of rage and love and power and certainty (even when he's wildly unsure and afraid). If his cell phone isn't in a pocket or palm, he knows something vital will happen at that very minute--and he'll miss the most important moment of Life.
And the Matron? She didn't expect it. But as she was setting the table for dinner, loose and open, unsuspecting and probably premenstrual-- she cried for this child.