Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Elijah and Me and Our Made-up Relationship

Truth: I can be charming.

If you are from my high school, you’re probably thinking, “Truth: You can be awkward.” And if you are from any other time in my life, you are probably thinking, “Truth: You can be very awkward.” But bear with me. There are a select group of people in the world who find sporadic, palm-on-the-face awkwardness endearing and dare I say… charming. Yes, it is a very select group of people, but I claim them. So, deal with it.

My charm has a small occupancy limit. It also has a time limit. I’m sure most people have seen the Seinfeld episode where George realizes that he makes a great impression on people for only a certain amount of time. After that, he flounders. His solution is to get to a great level of likability in a social situation and then immediately make his exit on a high note.

This is my life. Unlike George, however, who can only be charming for half a conversation, I can hold in the awkwardness for about 3 days. I’m lucky that way. I’m Cinderella dancing at a glittery, 3-day ball - charming the socks off of the Prince! And then the clock strikes midnight. At midnight, my charm is stripped to TSA standards - publicly patted down, X-rayed, and exposed as a little ball of awkwardness. I don’t even get to leave a cute shoe in memoriam.

This is a personality thing that I’ve dealt with since I was old enough to speak. At this point, I’m quite comfortable with it. I’ve managed to accept this weakness and sometimes even look upon it as strength. But, I must admit, there are still some people in the world whose eyes I would like to keep clouded with perpetual charm fog. One of these people, I’ve come to find out, is Elijah Wood.

Truth: Elijah Wood and I are pretty much in love.

And when I say “pretty much in love,” I mean that I have a slightly unhealthy celebrity crush on him, and he was once nice to me on set for one second. Love.

I am aware that on the outside, we might look like a little bit of an odd couple. I am the size of an Ent. He is the size of a hobbit. I have green eyes. He has eyes made of blue lasers that shoot directly into your soul. But, love isn’t about the outside. Love is about the internal, true and honest, make-believe connection that I created in my mind with him when I was watching North at nine years old.

So where and how did this love connection take place, you ask? Well, it all started with a mouse. Not really, I just always wanted to start a story off like that. It actually started with a job booking on, you guessed it, Elijah Wood’s television show. Due to certain fears of being certainly sued because of certain people signing a certain non-disclosure agreement, certain people will not be elaborating on certain shows, so hopefully certain readers will understand. But you all have brains and Google, so figure it out.

Despite us eventually falling in make-believe love, my first interaction with Elijah was… not great. I yelled at him. Okay, I didn’t really yell, but I did have that thing that Will Ferrell used to have as that character on SNL where he spoke much louder than what was appropriate – Voice Imodulation. Elijah walked by and said “hello” to the line of extras waiting to be placed. Everyone around me said a polite, quiet “hello” back. I yelled “HI” above everyone else… like a freak. I was too excited. It’s okay. I quickly decided that my 3-Day countdown clock would start after everyone said their hellos.

An hour later, I sat in a room, around a table with Elijah Wood, three other principle actors, and two other extras. We were filming a scene around the table, and I was, unfortunately, still not feeling very charming. In fact, I was feeling incredibly nervous. That loud “HI” had thrown my confidence, and I could feel the awkwardness fighting to get out.

Now normally, I never speak to the actors on set. I think it’s rude and creepy, and you never know how they like to approach a scene. They may want to focus or go over their lines. I just don’t want to be the weird, loud extra, you know? But this was different. There were only a few of us, and we were all sitting next to each other around a table. They were all speaking to each other. And I didn’t want to be the weird, silent extra, you know?

So I decided it was time to suppress that awkwardness and join in – a little bit. A laugh here; an "I concur" nod there. My 3-Day Charm is not presumptuous with its exchanges. Somehow the conversation went in the direction of different ways to keep your mind young as you age. (Ah, the weird things you talk about when you are in a group of bored strangers.) Suddenly, I realized that I actually had something to add to this conversation. This was it. It was time to start the charm clock. With my 3-Day confidence, I decided to go for it:

“I read that you should shower with your eyes closed,” I said. “I heard it exercises parts of your brain you don’t normally use.”

To my surprise, Elijah responded. And my heart melted.

“Really? I’m probably going to do that from now on.” he said.

I smiled…and left it at that – a small but worthy contribution to the conversation. Elijah appreciated it. I was proud of it. Let the games begin.

Later that day, my charm had its biggest breakthrough. We were working on another scene. I was sitting in the spot I was placed, when suddenly he was there, leaning up against a wall, right next to my chair. There we were. So close. Not talking. Him - bored. Me – using every ounce of will power to not just scream and run out of the room. My 3-Day Charm told me that I had to say something. I had to make some sort of moment happen. I was hesitant because of the “not talking to actors on set” thing. But, again, this seemed different. It seemed almost like it would be weird to not say something. So, I did it.

(I would like you to apply an 80’s summer-love movie glow and Lionel Richie’s, “Say You, Say Me,” in the background to this scene in your imagination. Thanks.)

Jessie’s Voice: “This show is really funny. I haven’t seen the first season, but I really want to now that I’ve been on set. The writing is great.”

Elijah Freaking Wood: “You think so? Thank you! We are proud of it.”

(Silence.)

Elijah Freaking Wood: “So, you’re from Florida?”

Jessie’s Mind: “WHAT!? HOW DOES ELIJAH WOOD KNOW I’M FROM FLORIDA?? Was he listening to another conversation I was in? OMG! I think I can die now. Right now. This is all I needed in life to die happy. HOW DOES ELIJAH WOOD KNOW I’M FROM FLORIDA!?”

Jessie Voice: “Originally, yep, but I just moved here from Chicago.”

Elijah Freaking Wood: “Chicago is cool! Florida is…”

Jessie’s Voice: “Crazy town. It’s crazy town.”

Elijah Freaking Wood: (laughing) "Yeah, it’s a little strange. It’s not that bad, though. I was just there not too long ago, actually.”

Jessie’s Voice: “There are some pockets.”

We both laugh. End Scene.

Charm, ladies and gentlemen. I like to call that 3-Day Charm.

This conversation continued for a couple more minutes, but I don’t need to go into the whole thing. You get it. I’ll just say that he said hi to me several more times that day, one time even graduating the hi to a very enthusiastic, “Hey, whatcha’ doing over there? Just reading on a park bench?” (I was reading on a park bench.)

Was he in love with me? I guess I can’t confirm that. But, he was definitely, mildly, once-in-awhile, slightly being a little bit nice to me.

Now, I would just like to take a moment and tell you something about Elijah Wood just for the sake of you knowing it. There are a lot of assholes in Hollywood. I’m not saying that anyone has a right to be an asshole, but if someone did have that right, I think that Elijah Wood would be somewhere near the top of that list. He’s earned it from the age of fetus… or however old he was when he started acting.

But he is not. In fact, I will honestly say (my love aside) that he seems like one of the nicest famous people I’ve ever encountered and maybe one of the nicest normal people, too. He was very modest and genuinely sweet to everyone around him. He was down-to-earth and seemed always interested to talk about anything but himself. If he wasn’t a star, and I just met him, I am pretty confident I would be just as smitten. So after this, go see his movies and watch his show and support kind, unaffected actors.

Anyway, our friendly hellos and occasionally one-liners continued for the next two days. And at the risk of sounding full of myself, I was killing it. You know that feeling when you have a great first date or job interview and nothing you can do is wrong? That’s what was happening here. I was on top of the world. Every day was a better hair day than the last. Every phrase out of my mouth came out slightly wittier than the last. Every smile he gave me was a little brighter, a little more familiar. For three days, I did nothing wrong!!

And then I was recalled for a fourth day. Sigh.

I knew from the moment that I woke up, it was over. I was totally off. My hair was being weird. I was out of cute outfits. I was feeling a weird anxiety that I hadn’t felt in the days before. The 3-Day Charm fog was lifting with the sun coming up, and there was nothing I could do to control it. I could almost smell the awkwardness seeping out of my skin. But I was cocky from the 3 days before, and even with all of these warning signs, I thought maybe I could pull off ONE MORE DAY! Just one more day, and I could leave Elijah Wood with a minuet but positive memory of me. One. More. Day.

When I got on set, that optimism was squished immediately. I was over-thinking EVERYTHING. Every time I saw him, my heart would start racing, and my head would get all fuzzy. Coherent sentences would not form in my mind. I racked my brain trying to figure out how I had held it together so well over the last three days. When I saw him finally walking over to me, my cup had runneth over.

“What are you reading?” he asked.

As he asked this, I thought he was walking to the other side of me. So, I looked that way. He wasn’t there, so I turned back around.

“Oopp! There you are!” I said.

Omg. This was not starting well.

I continued, "Huh? Oh um…what…I…let me see. Oh this." (I show him the cover.)

“Ha, oh. Is it good?” he asked.

"I…just…I haven’t. I think so. I’m not sure. It’s not mine.”

He paused… and then he said “okay” with a sympathetic smile and walked away…

So, I screwed up!!! I’m HUMAN! I popped the charm bubble. Little, sudsy pieces of coolness just disintegrated into the air, leaving a thick film of disappointment all over Elijah Wood’s eyes. But this wasn't over! I wasn't giving up without a fight! Not this time.

I knew the key to my downfall was the whole book conversation. So I needed to go back to the source of failure. I’m smart. I read books. I like books! I can talk about books! Books are my best topic! He needed to know that. I decided that the next time I had a moment to enter a conversation with Elijah, I would re-start the book talk and TOTALLY redeem myself.

Of course, if it had been any moment in the last three days, I would have remembered that sometimes it’s better to just let things go. I also would have remembered that the key to good conversation is relevance. You can’t just bring up random things at random moments and look totally sane. However, this was the 4th Day, and those bullet points didn’t seem too important on the 4th Day. All I could think about was redemption. But it ended up that my personal redemption was not too important to the 2nd AD on set. He decided the most important thing was to keep that awkward train rolling. And, roll it did.

For the next shot, Elijah was walking out of a room. I was asked to please sit in the room, by myself, so that when the door opened, it didn’t look like the room was empty. So, let’s paint a picture here, shall we? Here is awkward Jessie… sitting alone… in a small room… like a weirdo… creepily waiting for Elijah Wood to open the door and find her waiting for him. I could feel myself sinking further and further into the deep awkward abyss forming below me.

My 4th Day thoughts decided that to make the situation less terrible, I should be doing something when he entered and not just staring at the door. I snatched a notebook and pen that were close by and started drawing. And I kept drawing. I drew for a solid 20 minutes when I finally heard Elijah outside. He opened the door and just as expected, gave me a look that confirmed no one had remembered to tell him I was in there.

“Oh hi,” he said, confused.

“Just me! Creepily sitting in here alone,” I replied.

Oh my god. The word vomit! The terrible word vomit!!

“I mean, they told me to sit here,” I continued.

“Haha, oh ok,” he said.

And then, there was silence. And then, the worst thing ever happened.

“What are you drawing?” asked Elijah… as he walked straight behind my shoulder to look.

Now I would just like to preface this by saying that I was not drawing for the eyes of Elijah Wood. I wasn’t drawing for anyone’s eyes!!! I was drawing because I was nervous and insecure and bored. If I had known that Elijah Wood was going to open that door and walk straight over to that notepad, I certainly would have been doing something much more impressive…like Sudoku or making a list of prime numbers. Instead, Elijah Wood walked straight to me, looked over my shoulder, and gazed upon… an old man… in a tutu and unitard… doing ballet. Below him were the bubble letters, “Ballet Man!”

“Oh,” he said with a nervous chuckle, “That’s awesome.”

It was not awesome, just FYI. It was very, very weird. He thought it was weird. I knew it was weird. I couldn't think of what to say, so instead of just laughing it off, I forced out this inappropriateness…

“So, do you like reading; what do you read??!”

Huh? My oddly placed question just hung in the room for a few seconds in excruciating silence. As stated: relevance and timing are not 4th Day attributes.

“Oh, I like to read a lot of different things,” he slowly and incredibly politely replied as he backed himself towards the door. He was clearly trying to escape me.

As he reached the door, action was called, and he was gone before I could even understand what just happened. Just to top things off, I had to sit through about seven takes of this scene. From that first one on, he would stay outside the room till the last possible moment, come straight in, and leave again. I was mortified.

And that was it. The fog had lifted, and I went home with Elijah Wood seeing me very, very clearly. I know what you’re thinking. You should want him to see you for who you are, Jessie. Love yourself! If he doesn’t like you for you, you wouldn’t want him anyway! And what I would like to say to that is… bullshit.

Whether or not he thought I was charming and awesome and perfect, Elijah Wood and I are not going to date! He’s Elijah Wood!! And despite what some people reading this may think, I’m not delusional!! So, if I have to leave him forever and ever with one impression, I would prefer it be 3-Day Jessie. Not a weird girl drawing an old man in a tutu.

Truth: I can be awkward.

That’s my lot in life. George Costanza and I can only offer the world what we have to offer the world. For George, it’s part of a conversation. I can give 3 days. And if you ask me, the world can deal. But, I’d rather Elijah Wood didn’t have to.


**Note: I would like to thank my boyfriend for enthusiastically listening to this whole ordeal as it played out in real time. My boyfriend is cool and confident and you should be jealous. :-)

6 comments:

  1. This was terrific Jessie! I still tell people about my beautiful actor friend in LA who will most certainly be famous one day and her face to face interactions with the one and only Mr. Frodo. I'll just continue to omit day 4. :)

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  2. No matter whatever else happens, you can rest comfortably in the knowledge that that night Elijah Wood went home, took a shower, closed his eyes and thought of you.

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  3. #agreed with Hark!
    I hope you realize that I now have to sift through the entire 2nd season of that show to try and find the quirky funny girl that I can proudly say "Hey I grew up with her!" And then brag to everyone I know that I know someone in the movin pictures!

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  4. I found this hilarious! made my day :) x

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  5. This is so cute and hilarious! Actually... I guess _I saw you on the show!

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