Speaking of work, I’ve come up with all sorts of fantastic ideas over the years for careers I could pursue. Some I get from the backs of busses (X-ray tech!), others from movies, (FBI agent! That was a real consideration until I found out I’d have to move to Quantico for job training. Too humid). Others I get from books (international spy! That was during my Le Carre phase). Most, however, just occur to me at random as I go through my day. Their common thread: a spectacular lack of imagination. When I’m at Trader Joe’s I think “these cashiers look really satisfied. Look how they chat and smile. I should work here.” At the indoor playground: “what a hullabaloo! Maybe they’re hiring.” At the taco stand I reflect that they clearly need more manpower at the counter. Perhaps I should apply! I take MJ to the zoo. I wonder how I can “get involved” with elephants.
What does that even mean?
All I know is that, with a job-search technique this lazy, I had better stay off of the drug corners, or in no time at all I’ll be dealing crack.
There are a couple of things I feel drawn to that I didn’t see on a bus. One is puppeteering. Is this mainly because I (obssessively) loved the Muppet Show as a child? I won’t say no. Still, I’ve always suspected it would be a real talent. Heck, I even look like a muppet. I flap my arms! I roll my eyes! I sing “It’s Not Easy Being Green!”
So I tried it.
I did. I actually signed up for Puppet School here in L.A. It was taught by a Sesame Street alum (can you say starstruck?). I took all three courses. I performed in the final show. I danced to Beyonce with a giant monster on my arm! (“Put A Ring On It!”) I basically got a degree — to the extent that it’s possible — in animating fuzzy, goggle-eyed creatures.
But I found that I kind of sucked at it.
Talk about disappointing! Another dream debunked! Not only wasn’t I all that good, but I couldn’t actually drum up the willingness to practice to get better. Puppeteering is hard! Especially when the puppets talk. Which — unless you’re playing Mute Fozzie — most of them do. Your hands get really tired! I’ve never had that much upper arm strength, either. And I have no spatial sense. My puppets always went left when they were supposed to go right. Their mouths flapped out of synch with their words. Their arms waved sloppily, or not at all. The upshot? I am not working at Hensen Studios. That fantasy, at least, has been thoroughly dashed.
Fortunately, I have a new one to replace it. I want to work as an auctioneer. I think I could excel at it. It would combine three of my greatest skills: being on stage, selling things, and talking really, really fast. Unfortunately, Los Angeles is not exactly a wellspring of auction activity. I’d pretty much be limited to hawking real estate (ugh!) or autos, (double ugh!) There are also fund-raisers, of course. Those often use auctioneers. But what kind of person charges for their services in such a case? “That’ll be three hundred dollars, Mrs. Saintlike-Seeking-A-Cancer-Cure. Cash only.” Not going to happen.
Still, I did look into auctioneer’s school. Maybe, I thought, I could get the skills and then travel out of town for work, to the more rural parts of Southern California — like, um, Pomona? I could do real auctions. Sell cattle. And sheep. And feedlots. Is that a thing? Anyway, I’m sure I could sell cattle. Although, as a dues-paying member of Farm Sanctuary, I could really only do so under totally benign conditions. For pet cows, say. Or perhaps dairy cows, if they were organic. And free range. Ideally organic dairy pet free range cows. Is there an auction for that? If so, I am there. After I get my auctioneering degree, of course.
Which, it turns out, I can only do in Minnesota! Because that’s where America’s Favorite Auction School is. How do I know this? Because I searched online. They’re not only America’s favorite. They are also, apparently, America’s only. So I sent away for the catalogue. (You should have seen Mike’s face when that package arrived.) As soon as I read the application, though, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. The course runs a full week. In Mankato, MN. What the hell am I going to do with MJ in Minnesota while I’m off chanting “a-one-and-a-two-and-a-three-and-a-four” for eight hours a day? Put her in a corn field? Hobble her? Bring her with me to class? That’d be swell. My fellow students would hate me, but at least she would know how to out-count her peers by the end. Ha! Can you say “skip a grade?”
Wait a minute. Maybe I’m on to something. To heck with me working. I could get MJ trained as an auctioneer and take her on the circuit. Who can resist a two-year-old? A voluble one at that? Especially if she’s wearing a cowboy hat? She’d make bank! And how happy would she be, surrounded by all that livestock?
“Look, Mommy! A horsie!”
“That’s right, dear. Now SELL that horsie. SELL IT HIGH! HIGHER!”
I hear employees at Trader Joe’s get ten percent off their groceries. And all of the Hawaiian-style tee shirts they want. You even get to ring bells.
I think I see my future. It ain’t in Pomona, folks. But that’s probably better. For all concerned.