How to leave your mark

Rick Audet/Creative Commons

We are standing at the edge of an abyss.

The abyss is graduation. The abyss is the postgraduation job search. The abyss is phone calls and emails and job fairs and LinkedIn. But most of all, the abyss is a simple question: Can I do it?

Last fall, I decided I wanted to try writing for television, so I applied to be a member of CalTV Comedy.  I had no entertainment experience, but I got dressed for my interview with a strong, and absolutely misguided, sense of confidence. “I will just be myself!” I thought as I threw on some patterned leggings. “I will blow this interview out of the water through sheer charisma! No sweat!”

The meeting took place outside the Free Speech Movement Cafe on two of the concrete benches where sunlight-starved Main Stacks patrons like to get their nicotine fixes. Now, let it be noted that my interviewer was quite a good-looking fellow. Let it also be noted that the sun was directly overhead, and I was quite warmly dressed. Let it be further noted that after I had finished talking about what I did know, the conversation quickly swung around to what I didn’t. It was rapidly becoming clear that the complete lack of preparation I had put into this interview was not working in my favor, and I was indeed beginning to sweat it.

What experience did I have in the field? Um, none. What sketch ideas did I have? Well, I hadn’t really thought about it. What type of character would I like to play? I-I don’t have an answer to that question. And so on, until, thankfully, the interview came to an end.

I was about to walk away and go bang my head against something solid, but suddenly I was seized with a compulsion to have another last word. I had to communicate to him, somehow, that I was sane, that I was competent, that I was eager, that I was something.

“I just —” He looked up. I stared. “I just — I think it would be really cool.”

What? What did I think would be really cool? Bearing his children? Waterskiing naked? Owning the entire Nancy Drew collection in hardcover?

We never got to know the answer to that question. We never got to find out what, specifically, would be really cool, because, in the wake of that final embarrassment, I had seen something. We had both seen something. Something so beyond my comprehension, so monumental, that the seeing of it created a bending of the space time continuum, and every particle of matter in my body decreased its speed by half.

There, on the circular cement pedestal upon which I had been sitting, in my interviewer’s direct line of vision, was a dark, anatomically perfect imprint of my butt. In sweat.

I didn’t think; I ran — into the restaurant, past the readers and the coffee drinkers, through the outside patio, until I was hidden by a concrete column near the dumpsters. It was only then that I remembered that FSM has only one exit. And that my interviewer would be conducting interviews in front of said exit all morning. So I did what one usually does in a situation involving butt sweat: I called my mom.

For those wondering, I am not still sitting hidden in the back patio of the Free Speech Movement Cafe, attending classes remotely and having food brought to me by a well-trained battalion of squirrels. And for those wondering further, by some miracle I was accepted into the club, and I love it. And for those wondering most of all, I have still not borne anyone’s children, been waterskiing naked, nor purchased the entire Nancy Drew collection in hardcover. Yet.

I am standing at the edge of an abyss. I don’t know what the future holds. But I do know one thing: It’s hard to do much worse than butt sweat.

So I’m optimistic.


Contact Erica Hendry at [email protected]