i've just become a silent-picturestar, and I could slap myself.
Here's how it happens. A TVO producer putting together a show about teacher burnout has asked me to join the small studio audience as one of the stakeholders.
We speak on Friday afternoon and the show happens Monday, so I have no time to consult with my agent, or, more precisely, to get an agent.
I envision this as my big break. My face will be beamed into the living rooms of millions (OK, let's be realistic -- this is TVO, so my face will be beamed into the living rooms of seven or eight, but a discovery is a discovery) and my unparalleled beauty will capture the hearts of all.
I will be catapulted to celebrity status. People will want to know who I'm wearing and what my workout secrets are.
I will be the new Pamela Lee (née Anderson).
Our beginnings aren't so different. She was spotted at a BC Lions football game when her winsome visage was broadcast to an entire stadium on the large screens that show game highlights or Budweiser commercials or whatever it is they show.
Admittedly, I've never attended a sporting arena, unless you count the time Puccini's Aida was performed at the Skydome.
Nonetheless, Pammy and I, we will soon have our meteoric rise to celebrity in common.
Over the weekend, I think of what I will wear to the taping. What will make the most of my sleek runner's build? What will highlight the warm tones of my skin? What will offset the caramel flecks in my eyes? Outfit duly chosen, I move on to the more esoteric qualities that can only aid in my quest for Hollywood A-list status -- my rapier wit and unfailing charm. Look out, Denzel, a new Golden Boy is coming to town.
At the studio on the day of the show, I'm led to a pre-show lounge, where I sign a release form allowing TVO to use my image in any way it wants without any further consent or request for remuneration. I'm a little wary, having always hoped to make my face my meal ticket. It seems, um, a little naive to just go signing away the rights to my most precious commodity without at least consulting an agent. Who's representing Tom Cruise these days?
What I originally thought would be a taping turns out to be a live broadcast, and I am not a little jittery. Live? I thought I at least had the safety net of seducing an editor to cut out any moments when I might appear vacuous or say something foolish. But now there's no gap between a potential intellectual blunder on my part (the odds are microscopic, of course) and all 11 TVO viewers seeing it.
I call some of my friends to let them know about my imminent debut. My parents proudly watch as their son vaults to the very heights of society -- the TV. Well, maybe not the very heights. The one thing I could do to surpass this glory, in my family, would be to have a cameo on The Young And The Restless. But let's take it one step at a time.
The set is a little makeshift, what with the primary-colour hula hoops and oversized atoms pinned to the black-curtain walls. Is Polkaroo our host tonight?
No, the host is an unblinking, red-haired Pamela Wallin type, smartly attired in a red skirt and jacket. Her vivid blue eyes gaze intently into the guests' as she greets each of us with some small talk to show that she's done her research.
"Ernie, I remember you from years ago at such and such a radio station. Thank you for coming all the way from Sudbury."
"Gail, how is so and so in the Teachers Federation?" Oh, she's good.
I'm seated in the very nexus of the studio. As it turns out, I'm the rose between two thorns, albeit two stalwarts-in-education thorns. On one side is the head of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, a staid woman with handsome features.
On my other side is long-time trustee Ernie Checkeris, whose character and stature resemble our own fair city's mayor's. He tells me he dropped out of Central Tech to join the navy, opened a small hardware store in the 50s and then rose to the top at Home Hardware.
He offers me his solution to every problem he's ever encountered, professionally as well as personally. His father always told him that if something needs fixing, roll up your sleeves and fix it. If it can't be fixed, forget it.
This ma-and-pa philosophy warms me to the point where I want to take his hand and call him Papa (viz. Papa Can You Hear Me?).
The panel of specialists comes in and the show begins. Contumely and praise fly in equal measure from panel and audience while I sit transfixed and mute. I try to say something, and rethink it. Cameras focus on the two paladins flanking me. I look to one side to hear her comments, and to the other for his rebuttal.
An hour flies by, and I've sat mute for each of those 60 minutes. Oh, the ignominy of it. What was the subject of the show again?
On the way home, I think of all the pearls of wisdom I could have imparted. I realize I should have gone Jerry Springer on them. Well, empty as it seems, I guess there's always a career as a supermodel for me.