For the second day in a row, I’ve been stealing food. I didn’t expect to be stealing food at 45 years old. Nor did I expect to be living in postage-stamp-sized room in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York. But life has a way of opening doors that lead to unexpected results.
Such is the life of a famous actor living and working in New York City.
Living in New York City is like being in a relationship where you never know what’s going to happen next. It can be good, it can be bad, but it’s always interesting. The city surprises you. The city forces you to do things you normally wouldn’t do.
This is what happened. Three days ago, I was roaming Williamsburg, Brooklyn, intending to purchase groceries at an out-of-the-way grocery store that has lower prices than the stores that are closer to the Bedford (L) stop on Bedford Avenue and 7th Street. While walking, I saw signs–pink colored, 8.5 x 11 papers, enclosed in plastic, taped at the eye-level mark on stop signs and bus stop signs. They mentioned that the street would be closed for filming for “Eye Candy”, some HBO show about terrorism … zzzzzzz.
I took note of the time and returned yesterday, following the signs toward the semi-trucks that housed dressing room, props, private holding spaces for the principal actors, electrical, etc, until I spotted the catering truck. Swarming the vehicle was a hive of of burly-looking union guys, wearing their standard uniform of construction jeans, zip up hoodies, knit caps, work boots. Some had cigarettes dangling from their mouths as if they were participating in their own myth of union film crew worker stereotype.
Walking towards them, wearing nice blue pants, gray turtleneck with turquoise 3/4 length coat, funky poly-cotton black hat pulled low and sunglasses, I looked like an actor who had arrived early on set. As I approached them, I acted overconfident, lifting my chin and striding casually, as if I belonged their. You’re only as good as you act, I thought to myself. I weaved among them toward the coffee dispenser, slid a cop from the tube, placed the cup beneath the coffee spout, and flipped it down, pouring myself a cup of coffee.
I slip two of the tinfoil-wrapped tubes of I’m-not-sure-what’s-in-it-but-it’s-warm-so-I’ll-eat-it-for-breakfast food and slipped thin into my coat pocket. I felt like an imposter but then reminded myself that I’m an actor, and that every actor, every good actor, is an imposter. I live in Brooklyn, New York, and this is what I do to survive.
I did a two-step sideways to another table, pried away a small plastic plate and then placed a croissant that was lightly dusted with powdered sugar and almond slices. It looked delicious.
Taking the food and drink, I felt proud of myself and embarrassed at the same time, if that’s possible, so I put my emotion into a flat I-don’t-care attitude, I stepped into that circle of power, and casually strolled off with my breakfast–tubes in coat pocket, and the coffee in one hand and the plate of croissant on the other. I doubt the union crew members, the burly squat guys even noticed me as they probably passed me off as some actor who was hungry and needed to get to set to rehearse his lines.
I took my plate of food and drink and walked away from the table. I continued walking along the sidewalk, my chin up, back straight, my gait purposeful, in the glow of the early morning sunlight.
The beautiful thing about being in New York is that everyone’s anonymous and no one cares. The indifference is like a gas leak, comforting until you realize that everyone’s asleep, including you, and we’re all walking in a big dream on a ©Humanopoly board called New York City.
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