217. The Human Shield

human shieldNow that I was a big time union apprentice film editor I was bringing home enough cash that Jody could quit her job. “Do you think I should?” she asked.

“Why not?”

“Because who knows if you’ll get another movie after this,” she said.

“I will. We didn’t come all the way out here for you to work in an office. Go on auditions, take acting classes,” I said.

We were living the L.A. dream circa 1990: Move across country with nothing but a change of socks and blind ambition, hole up in a shitty Hollywood apartment, and try to make something happen. The only thing that differed from kid to kid was the “something” that they were trying to make happen. The Su Casa apartments were mostly hair metal wannabees, but I knew aspiring writers, animators, even newsmen. The biggest category were those dreaming of the film business in some capacity: directors, actors, writers.

I didn’t know anyone who was an aspiring apprentice film editor, but I felt like everybody wanted my job anyway. Why would anybody want to be a bank teller when they could work in the same building as Chuck Norris? My boss was a Brady Bunch veteran — how cool is that? Granted, the movie that I was working on was a horrible action flick starring Michael Dudikoff, but I was on the game board and that’s what mattered.

But the film business wasn’t my dream, it was Jody’s. We weren’t here for me but rather for her, yet I kept stumbling into opportunities while she worked behind the reception desk of a talent agency. It was time she got her shot, so every day when I drove into Beverly Hills to sit at my editing bench and peek down the hallway in hopes of a Chuck Norris sighting, Jody got busy with acting classes, agent searches, and casting calls.

The change energized her.  I hadn’t seen her so happy since we started dating that summer in Spartanburg four years earlier. She hit it off with a girl named Lisa from acting class, and the two started hanging out regularly. She went on a call for a body double gig for Carol Kane. “Isn’t she a lot older than you?” I asked.

“Why do you think she wants a body double?” Jody said. She didn’t get the gig, but it was still exciting. She got the next one, though — a part in a student film at USC.

And I finally got my Chuck Norris sighting. I was walking down the hall at work, and here came Chuck in his nuthugger jeans. Rather than think, “Hey, that’s Chuck Norris!” my mind leaped to, “Hey, that’s Chuck Norris! I wonder if I can kick him in the balls before he has a chance to stop me.” Cooler heads prevailed, and Chuck and I passed without testicular incident.

I never got around to seeing the final cut of The Human Shield, but I’m sure I didn’t miss anything. I saw Jody’s student film, though. She was great and the movie was terrible. It was a start.

We had money and she had time. Things couldn’t have been much better.

Categories: Memoir

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