Look at your face. It is a magnificent thing to behold. Some call it the ugliest face they’ve ever seen, others are arrested and captivated by it. When you have the slightest change in temperament, the emotion gets magnified and painted across your face. It may start as mild indigestion, but by the time it works its way up to your facial muscles, it’s full-blown angst.
Your face is weathered, craggy, pock-marked, asymmetrical.
It got that way not from wild life adventures, but from having to face other faces every single morning, and doing that terrible dance of reflecting those faces, having them reflect yours, and you theirs. The Bible talks about one man’s countenance sharpening an other’s, and that doesn’t even seem close to the half of it.
A face like this that can convey enormous quantities of emotional information within a microsecond must be worth millions to a movie producer.
You buy your ticket to LAX, and cram yourself and your backpack into the very back of an overcrowded plane. Already, you caught the keen interest of some D-list celebrity sitting up front. She scowled at you deeply, and muttered something under her breath. (It was probably, “I hope he gets to the back of the plane quickly,” but you imagine she said, “I’ll want to call my director friend when I get off the plane to let him know that a most magnificent face just walked by.”)
You have purchased four nights in expensive boutique hotels near the parts of Los Angeles where celebrities are known to lurk about incognito: Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Sunset Strip, Venice Beach.
Of course, you will wear sunglasses and a ballcap a lot, and walk around looking as if you are trying to avoid being seen by the paparazzi. At opportune moments, when you think you see someone who is a talent scout, director, producer, talk show host, etc., you will casually remove your ballcap and sunglasses to mop the perspiration off your brow and forehead, then scowl at them intently.
You stand outside of openings to movies that will go straight to DVD after opening night. You take tours through studio backlots, and scowl a lot at tinted-glass windows on trailers and buildings. Perhaps you can get on the Jay Leno show, and make an ass out of yourself.
After a while, it becomes abundantly clear that everyone you meet is avoiding you. You aren’t sure why. Perhaps they think you are a mogul, and they are intimidated by your power. Inside shops in Beverly Hills, clerks swarm around you and seem ready to escort you to the door. Walking around Venice Beach, you spy what appears to be some trash-mouthed talk or reality show babe walking her teacup poodle.
You begin staring at her a lot, working every mind trick you use to get people walking down the street to turn around from the sensation of having eyes on the back of their heads.
She doesn’t appear to notice you at first, but then she calls over a beefy, bald male in a sport jacket. This must be Vin Diesel. Both of them are looking and pointing at you.
You put your sunglasses and ballcap on, and shuffle towards them disinterestedly, hoping to naturally just run into them.
You feel a sharp pain and hear a crack on the back of your head, and wake up hours later to the feeling of your pockets being rummaged through.
“Sorry, buddy, you’ve already been picked clean, but I had to check.”
The rest of the night you walk the streets, scaring away several homeless people who can clearly see you’re more messed up than they are. Your hotel absolutely refuses to believe that you are the same person who checked in the day before, and indeed, a glance at your face in a store window tells you its been irrevocably altered–probably for the worse.
“Hey pal, want to be in a movie?” asks a fellow with a neck beard and checkered shirt. This must be some kind of indie filmmaker. What a great way to start your career!
“Certainly!” you cry. “When do we start?”
“In a few minutes. See, I’m Wally Dogood, the snuff film producer who goes around taking video of homeless guys beating each other up. Soon as I find a dude to do some mortal combat with you, we’ll be ready to go.”
You run as fast as you can to get away from this wretched situation.
“Mommy!” you cry into the only pay phone you could find, “I need money. They took it all.”
“Who is this?” Snaps a hard, cigarette-calloused voice. “Operator, I am not taking this collect call after all. It’s not my Junior. Please reverse these charges.”
Then, you remember that your own mother and father have been dead for years. But who is that over there?
Why, it’s Jay Leno!
Jay has his cameraman with him. They are doing his famous man-on-the-street questions. You race up to him. A beefy, bald fellow in a sport jacket steps out of nowhere and lays you flat.
You wake up in a part of Los Angeles you’d hoped didn’t actually exist. They’ve carted you to the hospital, and then dumped you off with the other human refuse here.
“What’s your story?” asks a fellow who is dressed like Wally Dogood was. “My name is Josh McManus. I’m a double major film school/social work student. I want to tell the stories of the beat-down peoples of the earth.”
And so, your dream is realized. Within a few months you have become a celebrity. Josh reports back to you that he has almost 3,000 hits on his Youtube documentary video, in which your most magnificent face appears for a full five seconds.