April 12, 2003
The Iranian

Part 27

April 6
Head... feels... like... target for Serena Williams' tennis balls. Pop. Pop. Pop. Every which way I turn my head, I get a new pain popping up on my temple, my forehead, down to my neck. Been hiding under my covers in my same Scooby-Doo pajamas for the past 2 days now, still in despair over latest disastrous encounter with Ali over the Sizdeh-Bedar holiday.

Arrrrrgggggghhhhhhhhh!!! What is that sharp blinding pain in my right eye? Oh crap, it's my roommate Artie savagely opening the door to my room, letting the light in.

-- "Artie!!!!!!!!! What the hell are you doing? Close that door! Can't you see I'm sleeping?"

But Artie ignores me and walks to my window where he lifts up the blinds. Ayeayeayeayeaye!!! My eyes have been accustomed to the darkness and the sun makes them burn.

-- "Get up vampire!" My cruel torturer heartlessly shouts "We've got work to do!"
Oh maaaaaaannnnnn... .

Chloe up and left us without paying her last month's rent and Artie and I are stuck with it, until we can find another lunatic to rent her room. Today, we are interviewing the lucky candidates.

After a long hot shower and some delicious vanilla-flavored coffee prepared by Artie, I feel slightly better. He is so organized, prim and proper, it makes me sick. I'm supposed to be the girl here and yet, my side of the apartment is a hopeless mess of clothes strewn here and there on the floor and on my chair, plastic shopping bags accumulating on my doorknob, and sheets that are always half on the bed, half on the floor. Meanwhile Artie is Mary Fucking Sunshine over here, with his perfectly matching tinted sunglasses and sweater, a clipboard and a list of potential tenants with alphabetically listed names, phone numbers and references.

The door bell rings and Artie actually yelps in excitement.

-- "Okay, Okay... That would be... ." He mutters while looking on his clipboard.

-- "Hey, Artie! This isn't Studio 54. Can you let them in?"

The procession of starlet/call-girls, writers/cab drivers, singer/tai-kwan-do instructors starts.

In Hell-Ay, nobody is just ONE thing. Everyone is SOMETHING-SLASH-SOMETHING ELSE. Usually the order is as follows: First, you present yourself as the profession you think yourself as in your wild dreams but nobody else recognizes you, for example "actor". Then comes the "slash." Afterwards, you shyly put in the "temporary" (ahem) job you took to win your bread in between auditions. For example, I used to be an actress-slash-waitress. But now that my manager has dropped me and I quit the diner after I got burned by one too many grease sparks from the burger grill, I have become ... well... it's too depressing to think about!

Right now, for once, I am in the position of power. These people are, after all, auditioning for me. I keep thinking gleefully of Makhmalbaf's "hate letter to humanity" docu-film Salaam Cinema in which he spent the better part of an afternoon messing with the minds of nincompoops with delusion of grandeur . For example, he forced boys and girls of all ages, girth and height to cry on cue. Then, when a few had the focus to actually shed some tears (probably by thinking of their long dead hamster), he would demand immediate laughter from them. Hehehehe... Maybe I will ask my future roommates to cry and laugh on cue for me too or better yet perform a soft-shoe routine for me while singing Mr. Bojangles.

The movie world is after all full of sadistic directors and casting agents who relish in playing psychological torture techniques with actors. The inspiration is definitely limitless. Elia Kazan is known for having taken great delight in forcing Vivien Leigh to shoot scene after harrowing scene of her character Blanche DuBois' meltdown in Streetcar named Desire. Leigh, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had a very similar life experience to the poor Blanche. Both women had once been very beautiful but subsequently been dumped by the man they loved and left in complete isolation. So it was excruciating for Leigh's nerves to play that particular scene again and again. When someone asked Kazan if there was something wrong with Leigh's performance that made him shoot a dozen takes of the same scene, he only laughed and said he was just fascinated by the fact that Leigh could make herself shed a tear on the very same syllable in the middle of her speech every time. He wanted to see how long she could keep this up.

Going back even further, of course everyone knows about Renee Falconetti, the actress who went bonkers while playing Joan of Arc in 1928 because her director Carl Dreyer actually made her stay in a dungeon with bread and water, and broke her spirit, all in the name of artistic realism. No wonder she never played in any other film!

I wish I was only kidding.

Any-hoo, back to the business at hand. Artie has scheduled a multitude of people, giving them each a fifteen minute window to impress us, like we are speed-dating or something.
The first victim is Mike, a stud who shows up sans shirt, with an upper-chest glistening in vaseline. I can tell by the look in Artie's eyes that he is ready to lick any grease off this muscular Village People wanna be. Sorry, but I have to veto him. Have no intention of being caught in a Melrose Place type sexfest with my roommates.

After that comes Angie, a fiftyish woman with long hair and clothes two sizes too small, who keeps telling us about her psychic abilities, which sometimes get channeled through her seven cats. Psycho!... Next?

Awwww... How sweet, these really nice-looking, twin sisters from Idaho who just moved here to pursue their studies at UC Hell-Ay, but unfortunately, Chloe's room is way too cramped for them. What did they expect us to do? Put up bunk beds?

We see an over-dramatic actress-slash-dancer-slash-singer-slash (I lost count after that... way too many slashes... and no stable income among them)... And a cab driver who keeps talking to my elbow throughout the entire interview... It gets worse from then on. And on, and on, and on. Grrrr... . I could kill that Chloe, living it up in her Hollywood Hills mansion with Mr. Mexican Beer Magnate.

After the last loser comes and goes, Artie puts his head back and sighs:

-- "Wouldn't it be cool if just like the movies, Mr. Right suddenly appeared at our door, after we've lost all hope... "

-- "Hey, this isn't the Fabulous Baker Boys and there's no way in hell Michelle Pfeifer, or should I say in your case Brad Pitt, is going to surprise us.

Just then, a knock is heard on our door. Artie and I jump up and race to the door, dying with laughter. But it's only Edmond, his boyfriend.

We all decide to go for a drink and forget about the last couple of hours. Of course they choose a karaoke bar. I should have known better. God these gays love to sing. Looking at Artie's flaming rendition of "I touch myself", I think to myself: Is this how I am going to be spending the rest of my days as a (hopelessly) single girl?


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