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?

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

The Shoot (Part Two)

Mike and Miranda are good people — smart, creative, and funny. They’re my go-to friends whenever I have an idea that involves music or robots or both — like the time I asked them to dress up as robots for a show at the historic Old Haverford Friends Meetinghouse or the time they accompanied me and Tim Simmons for a show at the historic Rusty Nail in Ardmore, Pennsyvlania. (I only play at historic venues.)

Even so, it takes a lot of pacing and talking to myself just to get out of the house and into my car. The plan was to stay home all afternoon and play with my dog, Gordon. The plan was never to drive to Mike and Miranda’s house to shoot a video. As a result, there are knots in my stomach as I turn the key in the ignition and take one last look at Gordon, who is staring wistfully at me from the kitchen window.

This is not the plan.

This is not the plan.

This is not the plan.

But it’s okay, I tell myself.

It’s okay because sometimes good things happen when I go off-script. It’s okay because a scrap of paper on my desk reads Note to self for 2018: Get out more and be more social.
And it’s also okay because the route to Mike and Miranda’s house is a familiar one — not because I visit Mike and Miranda all that often but because it’s almost identical to my daily commute to work.

All told, the drive takes about forty-five minutes — time enough for the knots in my stomach to loosen a bit, but also time enough for me to second-guess the whole endeavor. What am I doing? Why am I doing this? What kind of egomaniac wants to star in a rock video? I’m a lactose- and gluten-intolerant forty-five-year-old man with a job and a house and a mortgage, for Pete’s sake.

The same concerns swirl around my head as I walk the path to Mike and Miranda’s front door and ring the doorbell. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait.

Their dog is barking as I catch a glimpse of myself reflected in the glass of their screen door. Am I standing too close to the door, I wonder as I take a few steps back? Or am I standing too far now? I really wish someone would write a treatise on the appropriate distance to stand from someone’s front door after ringing the doorbell. It would make situations like this a lot easier to handle.

Enough! I say (in my head) to my reflection. Compose yourself!

And with that, the door opens.

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Robots!

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.