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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

you mean--the job comes with friends, too?!?!

     Sure, there are some people out there who make me want to either gift them with a few sessions of much-needed therapy so they can learn to treat others with kindness and respect, or gift myself with a few sessions of therapy that suddenly become much-needed because, well, I have not been treated with kindness or respect since meeting them.  

   But every once in a while you run into someone who redeems humanity for you.

   And therapy is still good--even great--but isn't totally necessary at the moment because you've met someone whose friendship just plain helps.  And as an added bonus, you can take the $100 you were gonna drop on that 50 minute hour of therapy and go buy a new dress.  Or a nice dinner.  Or both.  

   Anyway, I met Betsy in Korea, of all places, three and a half years ago.  We were doing Fame the Musical and it was a first tour for both of us. And if that wasn't enough to bond us together, we are similar heights, which always makes a great foundation for a friendship, if you ask me.  

   We were also both assaulted by an elderly Korean man.  Now that's  the beginning of something beautiful if there ever was one, I think (that is--the fact that we escaped him together, not the assault).  Oh, but wait--here's a pic of me and Betsy, tonight, at the Boston opening of ACL.  She and Todd (her fantastic fiance--they recently got engaged--woo-hoo!) came to see the show and sat right in the front row--it was all I could do to not watch them watching the show all night...
     Oh, but the story about the elderly Korean man and his assault (I can't just mention it like it's a normal occurrence and then not explain, right?!) : a small group of us were leaving our hotel (the Humantouchville, if I remember correctly--and I am hoping something was lost in the translation), I think there were five of us in total.  I was the last to exit and I kind of came through the door dancing.  See, the thing about me is that I will dance just about anywhere, which is an endless source of embarrassment to Drew.  I have explained to him that it doesn't embarrass me, so it shouldn't embarrass him, but he doesn't seem to see it that way.  He has actually resorted to making a huge show of playing the air guitar when I start dancing. He thinks he's evening the score, so to speak; that he will embarrass me and then make me want to stop dancing in order to put an end to the air guitar.  Sort of like when Russia and America had their nukes aimed at each other, keeping the playing field level--except, I wouldn't want either of us to have to be Russia in this scenario and there was no possibility of either my dancing or his air guitar resulting in a huge mushroom cloud...Drew is right about a lot of things, but not this.  Play all the air guitar you want, Drew--I am gonna keep on dancing. Sorry...

   So, I am dancing, minding my own business, perfectly content with keeping it a solo, when this little elderly Korean man just forcefully grabs my arms and tries to start dancing with me.  I am not keen on this surprise pas de deux, but his grasp is surprisingly strong for one so small, and I am having a hard time getting his hands off me.  So I call for help and my friends come back and manage to disengage me from his hold.  But the man then spots Betsy, and starts to grab her and try to dance.  Again, we go to work and get him off her...This man is determined to grab a girl, this much is clear by now, so we do what we can in the situation: we run.  

   The five of us run at break neck speed through the streets of Seoul.  Oh, and I am pretty sure we stood out since we were young Americans, one being 6"8, two of us blond, and all of us white.  Plus, the full-tilt sprint probably didn't help us blend into the crowd an easier, either. Here's the crazy thing, though, the Korean man follows us!  Geez, how long has it been since this guy had someone to dance with? I mean, he really can't just ask a friend for a dance? He has to grab some American girls and force them to dance with him?  Actually, considering that he would be willing to that, I can understand how he doesn't have many women volunteering to dance with him on a regular basis.  

   The whole chase culminats at a traffic light that is being difficult by staying red, forcing us to wait which lets the man close in on us.  As he does, he grabs for the last girl in the group and again, we fight him off as the light turns and allows us to do the only thing that seems to work in our defense: running.  But this time someone yells to run down to the subway, where we can lose him.  This turns out to be a foolproof plan, because we lose him down there and finally slow our pace down to a walk.  And then we just start laughing, especially when we go over the facts...

  Fact: A small, elderly Korean man, who we were now pretty sure was drunk managed to cause 5 young adults to run away in fear.  
  Fact: We are all dancers, able-bodied, fit, athletic, and ranged in height from 5'5 to 6'8.
  Fact: He is one solitary old man, probably drunk, definitely no taller than 5'3.
  Fact: We felt more than a little like the Scooby-doo gang and the whole thing ended up being very exciting in the end, but actually pretty scary when it was happening.
  Fact: I actually felt partially to blame for the fiasco by somehow planting the idea into the man's head by dancing while exiting the building.  

    So, that's the account of the assault from the surprisingly strong little man in Seoul.  I hope he has stopped grabbing young ladies and forcing them to dance with him since then.  I really do.  

   But even more than an ability to run from offensive men through the streets of Seoul, Betsy is a very special person. Her friendship was an unexpected gift that came with my first big job--a gift that I was not even looking for at the time, but realized that it was just what I needed after the fact.  

  It's kind of amazing how you get into this business simply because, at some point, you fell in love with the ability to give something of yourself to an audience; maybe you made them laugh and realized you were funny for the first time and it brought another spot of light into your soul; or maybe you sang a song that cleared something up for somebody, giving truth a bit more of an edge in that epic race between truth and illusion, but however it started, it was a dream that involved not much more than thoughts of an empty stage and all the possible or seemingly impossible ways in which you hoped to fill it someday.  But then, you start stepping on those stages, doing what you'd dreamed of, and you look around and are absolutely struck by the staggering fact of true-blue friendship that has come in the form of the people who stretch next to you before the show; who stand next to you in a united front of doing whatever it takes to uphold that suspension of disbelief that is imperative for a job well done in theater...

  I guess what I mean is that I always knew I would love, love, love this job; I am just kind of surprised at how much I have grown to love, love, love some of the people that come with this job. 

5 comments:

Mom said...

Some of my best friendships have happened without any plan for friendship....they just aged that way, growing gradually more valuable over time like a good wine. How precious is a good friend! I'm glad you met Betsy.....

Betsy said...

yes, i believe it was called the humantouchville!!! i completely forgot about that man grabbing me and chasing us down the streets of korea!! jess, i'm so glad that phoenix productions brought us together... your friendship means the world to me.

kathiek said...

Those are the best and truest perks of any job...the people we work with who become our friends! I am glad to know your company is such good company, Jess.

Mom said...

A new look to your blog!

Jessica Latshaw said...

haha yeah, mom--you are the first to see it!