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Part 32
New York, Monday June 14

9:32 p.m.
After two coffees, one latte, one espresso, and three bottles of water; four avenues and forty (yes FORTY) streets; The doors finally stopped slamming in my face at about 4:45 p.m., fifteen minutes before closing time. I had found an agent willing to take me even with headshots that dated from four years ago and a dismal resumé where my only claim to fame was being in college theater and one short student film where I was the lead character but spoke no lines (very Marcel Marceau-ish performance).

The only bad thing is that I have a strong suspicion that my new agent Mrs. Braun, or should I say Fraulein Braun, has Eva for a first name. I swear, when I walked into her office and found an octogenarian in a big bouffant white wig, yelling "Ach soooooo" into the phone, I thought I must be on Candid Camera. But it turns out I had definitely walked in at the right time in the right place. As Fraulein Braun slammed the phone down, she looked up and saw me standing there hesitatingly. "YOU!" she exclaimed, pointing her bony index finger towards me, "YOU ARE PERFECT!"

I started to smile and I tentatively held out my resumé but she yanked it out of my hands and threw it aside.

-- "Sehr schon, sehr schon...Tell me, ARE YOU READY ? RIGHT NOW?"

She couldn't possibly be sending me for an audition right now! Could she?


Still baffled, I watched her go into another room and come back with a strange green and red outfit on a coat hanger. She shoved it in my arms and screamed at me to go change. Scared that she was hiding German Shepherds under her desk to jump at the throat of disobedient employees, I went to the restroom and changed...only to discover this was a Christmas Elf costume. But we were in June? What use could there be for a Christmas product at this time? Of course I was thinking this must be for a television commercial or even a film extra.

-- "NEIN NEIIIINNN...Vee just had dee cancellation for party... PARTYYY... It is fur das birthday of die Kinder... Little kids you see... They asked for Christmas Elf for the entertainment of the kids. Das dummkopf Sylvia just got part on 'Days of Our Lives' and she cancelled on me! Tphhhh (here she spat, actually spat on the ground!). Du must go there and entertain... now GO GO!!! Schnell!..."

I stood there frozen. This was a nightmare. I wanted to be an actress, do Shakespeare or Moliere, or even Terminator Three! How could I stoop so low as to be a Clown at a Children's Party?


I was on my way to the subway, address in hand, two big floppy shoes on each feet that curled up at the end and carried a little ringing bell. My hat matched my shoes, ringing bells and all. Fortunately this is New York where everyone is so jaded no one batted an eyelash at the sight of a Giant Christmas Elf stepping in on the 6 line uptown. I just love this City. Even I have become blase to a certain extent. I remember one evening walking merrily back to my apartment on Broadway when I passed a half-dozen men spread with their stomachs against the wall and two plain-clothes officer holding a gun to them while awaiting back-up. I didn't even process what I had seen until I was halfway down that block.

When I arrived at the apartment of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas on the Upper East Side, the party was in full swing. Little Benjamin, who was celebrating his fourth Birthday, had specifically requested a Christmas Elf even though his birthday fell in June, go figure! Apparently though, I could not cut a more terrifying figure because as soon as he saw me, he burst into tears. As his nanny tried to comfort him (his mom and dad were away on holidays leaving the nanny in charge...I mean, this was the Upper East Side!), I could hear him say in between sniffles: "I... wanted... Barneyyyyy... wwwaaaaahhhhhh." I took a deep breath and bent down to little Benji's level, at which he proceeded to give me a great big slap across the face, knocking my Christmas bonnet on the floor. This seemed to have a very positive effect as he began to laugh quite uproariously, along with the rest of his brat pack. Still stinging from the slap, I decided to exact revenge now that I had gathered their attention.

-- "Woooowww... My FRIEND Barney SURE will be SAD to hear what happened to his Poor Friend the CHRISTMAS ELF when he went to little Benji's birthday party."

The children instantly quieted down. I had used my best Shakespearan King Lear thundering voice to make this announcement.

-- "You know Barney?" Benji asked apprehensively.

-- "Yes, I do!... And Barney told me this was a nice house with a nice kid named Benji and if you guys were all nice to me, I could give you THE BIG SECRET Barney has told me, his best friend the Christmas Elf. But if you were mean to me, then I could turn you all into little frogs!"

To my utter amazement, the children gathered round and looked up at me. Even Benji had quieted down his fists of fury and was waiting for more.

For the next couple of hours, all I can say is that years of baby-sitting Nancy's kids and dealing with U.S. Immigration at work has given me an uncanny ability for story-telling and making up stuff, anything to stall the other party. So I was able to keep the kids in line with stories and games I would completely make up as we would go along, such as "The Silent Game" (where the most silent person wins a cup of pudding) and the blinking game (basically a staring off contest where the loser is the one who blinks first). Four year olds are amazingly easy to scare I found, and every time some ruffian would try to get out of line, I only had to mention the B-word (Barney) to get him to quiet down.

When the last of the nannies had come to pick up the little guests (this being the Upper East Side and all), and Benji safely tucked away to sleep, I sat in the kitchen with Geraldine the house nanny, and Jose the Butler, and we poured ourselves each a much deserved JD on the rocks, courtesy of the Douglas' bar. I hopped back home after I finally regained the feeling in my feet. Once home, I took my first look at the contract I had hastily signed with Fraulein Braun before she shoved me out the door my Elf shoes first.

Fee for my afternoon as an Elf in the confines of four-year old Hell: One-Hundred and Twenty-Five Dollars.

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