The Shoot (Part Six)

In case you’re wondering, Mocha is a Morkie — part Maltese and part Yorkie. The main benefit of mixing the two breeds is that it produces a five-pound dog with the lung capacity of a right whale. That’s my working theory, anyway, as Mocha takes a breath and then commences to bark nonstop at his food bowl for the next twenty minutes. Cute as a button, though.

Since we can’t leave until Mocha finishes his dinner, we spend our time rifling through the costumes and props that are strewn about the hallway. A set of plastic ram’s horns, feathered masks, fake-fur hats, stoles, gloves, and tails, shiny gold pants, a skin-tight silver shirt, and a plastic microphone are just a few of the items we pick through as we try to settle on the right look for everyone.

That it’s hovering just a few degrees above freezing outside doesn’t factor into our decision-making process, a choice we’ll regret in the fairly near future. For the time-being, our larger concern is that Mike’s father just burst through the closed set of double-doors I’ve been trying to ignore at the end of the hallway, and he’s demanding to know why the dog is barking so much. Complicating matters is the fact that I’m the only person in the hallway at the moment, standing in a pile of props and costumes and wearing Mike’s clothes. The look on the man’s face says I’m lucky he doesn’t own a gun.

“I think I make him nervous,” I say by way of explanation.

“Hey, Dad!” Mike yells from his bedroom as he tries to coax Mocha into taking the last few bites of his dinner. “Marc’s here!”

I offer a limp wave as the man scowls at me and ducks back into his room.

“Maybe we should go,” I suggest, nervously stuffing any props within reach into a reusable grocery bag.

“Yeah,” Miranda says. “That’s probably a good idea.”

I’m already halfway down the steps with my guitar and the bag of props, forgetting for the moment that I’m an adult because my friend’s dad is mad at me for waking him from his nap. Awkward, yes. But it did teach me that if you ever want to feel like a teenager again, don’t fall in love or anything ridiculous like that. Just piss off your friend’s dad.


Me with a sculpture of Mike’s head. It’s one of the props we decided not to take with us to Roxborough, largely because it weighed fifteen pounds and was difficult to carry.

The Shoot (Part Three)

The dog keeps barking — or yipping, or maybe just squeaking at top volume —  as Miranda says she thought I’d just come in the back door like everyone else does. The dog’s name is Mocha, and my guess is that he weighs about five pounds. Mike, it turns out, is in the shower, and there’s an array of costumery laid out in their upstairs hallway.

By now, I’m consciously running all of my “normal human behavior” scripts in an effort to seem like I have my act together and don’t mind for a second that this isn’t the day I had planned. I say things like “Thanks for having me over!” and “Gee, I haven’t been here in a while!” Then I squat to pet the dog and say, “Aren’t you a cute dog!” And then I go out on a limb: “Do you mind if I use your bathroom?”

For a brief moment I wonder if I should have said “restroom” instead of “bathroom,” but the issue is mooted when Miranda yells, “Mike! Marc has to pee!”

And Mike yells “God, Miranda!” as my brain lurches toward imminent meltdown at the prospect of being ushered into the bathroom where Mike is showering.

“There is another bathroom, right?” I ask.

“You don’t want to use that one,” Miranda says. “It’s a mess.”

“Not a problem.”

“It’s okay,” Miranda says, banging on the bathroom door. “Hurry up in there! Marc has to pee!”

By now I’m halfway down the stairs in search of the other bathroom, which turns out to be fine, largely due to the fact that nobody is showering in it.

When I return, Miranda has an outfit of Mike’s clothes laid out for me and is talking about makeup. She wants to glam me up, she says. Silver lipstick, blue eye shadow.

“I, um,” I say. “You know, maybe just the…”

I point to a black blazer with red stripes.

Perhaps sensing my trepidation, Miranda relents on the issue of the makeup but insists that I wear a skinny red-and-black bow-tie.

“But I’m not wearing a collar,” I say. “Won’t that look funny?”

“No,” Miranda says as if to tell me to get over it. “It’ll look punk. Very eighties.”

At this point, Mike is still in the shower, so Miranda suggests that we go out and shoot some footage in a nearby cemetery.

Because, you know, why not?


Me in Mike’s jacket and tie, posing with a self-portrait of Mike and a cityscape by Miranda.

The Shoot (Part One)

The phone rings at 2PM. The caller ID says it’s Miranda. Coincidentally, I’m watching a movie that her husband, Mike, loaned me earlier in the week. The budget was huge, and it isn’t very good.

“Do you want to shoot a video?” Miranda asks, or words to that effect.

“What, like now?”

“No. More like in an hour or so.”

“I don’t know. I’m kind of…”

I want to say busy right now, but it feels like a line from Napoleon Dynamite. But it’s too late, anyway, as Miranda has already cut me off.

“The snow’s melting,” she says. “So we have to do it today.”

The snow, it turns out is central to the plan, but the snow is also the reason I’m home and don’t want to go anywhere. Then again, I never want to go anywhere because I have what’s known as an adjustment disorder. As long as everything always stays the same (ha-ha), I’m fine. If I’m given advanced warning that something out of the ordinary is going to happen, I can more or less deal with it. If someone calls me out of the blue and wants me to do something other than what I was planning on — which is usually nothing in particular — I freeze and kind of panic.

Which is why I’m at a loss in this particular conversation. The part of my brain that wants to stay home because that was the plan all along is pulling fire alarms and sending out distress signals. The other part of my brain is calmly reminding me that Miranda and Mike are actually doing me a huge favor by offering to shoot a video for me. They like my music and want to be a part of my creative process. And, really, the calm part of my brain is trying to convince the part that’s doing its best impression of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, it won’t be that bad.
Edvard Munch - The Scream - Google Art Project

“Okay,” I say after a lot of hemming and hawing and reminding myself to breathe. “I can be at your house in an hour.”

“Can you make it ninety minutes?”

This does not bode well.