I’m afraid positive Maggie is on a temporary leave of absence. All normal services will be resumed shortly, but for now dark angry Maggie the grump is featuring in a special guest blog spot.
Reasons I hate being tall:
1 – Whilst other little girls (emphasis on little) could get away for numerous extra years with being cute, my precociously long limbs made every surrounding adult think I was always a lot older than I was. As a result I was allowed to get away with a lot less.
2 – When I was a teenager and outrageously skinny and probably at my lifetime closest to resembling the unhealthy physiques of those models plastered all over magazines, my poor stretched body was riddled in stretch marks through the perils of shooting up ten inches, TEN INCHES my friend, in one year.
3 – Andy Scott, the love of my life during the summer I was fourteen, told me that he suppose he wouldn’t mind kissing me, but the fact that I was taller than him put him right off.
4 – Generally, until my late teens, every single boy my age seemed to be significantly smaller than me. Therefore if and when I did get any action I looked like a heffalump devouring some unsuspecting prey. Not the feminine elegant picture of romance you get in the movies.
5 – It’s nigh on impossible to get trousers that are long enough, presently I often unwillingly don that attractive dweeby look of having an unattractive sliver of pale ankle… or worse – a whole reservoir of sock.
6 – Tallness has led to insanely large feet. This means that that favourite woman’s past time of shoe hoarding has always eluded me. I’ve taught myself to not fall in love with impossibly heavenly architectured footwear, as they never, ever do them in my size. Instead I content my myself with grotesquities that resemble huge sensible boats strapped to my feet.
7 – Most men I seem to like always go for tiny pixie like demure whips of girliness (Dan, alas, included). Don’t get me wrong I’m sure all those towering supermodels are getting some, but in general the fantasy that men like a tall leggy woman isn’t all that accurate. A lot of blokes are intimidated if you look like you’d put up a good fight in an arm wrestle.
8 – When I got into drama school one of the things I was most looking forward to were the dance classes… Imagine that – earning a qualification by putting some moves in on a Monday afternoon. This enthusiasm soon died when I realised all the men were clambering over the small girls as dance partners. They didn’t fancy throwing someone taller than they were in to the air, or through their legs in a lindy hop move when there was a strong likelihood that i wouldn’t fit and there would be an unfortunate meeting of hard skull and groin. (this actually did happen once – sorry Tim…) Thus the lessons turned into some awful selection procedure where, like the shit girl at rounders, I was always left to last – staring at the scuff marks on my dance shoes and desperately trying to pretend that I didn’t mind.
9 – Again at drama school, because I was taller than most of my male compadres – I was never cast as the love interest – but always the mother or the eccentric. Not so fun. The one boy who was taller than me – and who therefore I got partnered with for most classes – had severe halitosis.
10 – Launched into the real world as a non so little fledging actress I realised that the same prejudices lay outside the drama school gates. For some, to me inexplicable, reason – small actors rule supreme. I’ve lost count of the number of jobs I haven’t got because of my height…
Which brings me to the reason for my rant.
Today was my hotly anticipated, life changing, palpitation giving audition. I’ve devoted the last week of my life in priming myself for the all important ten minutes in the audition room. I read the play three times, and prepared all the sections that they might possibly ask me to read. I learnt two new monologues which I inflicted on my poor housemates for two hours last night. I prepared a song – as they asked – and spent £60 of my non existent riches in paying for a singing lesson to make sure it was as good as it could be (admittedly I’m not much of a singer – but I do okay). None of this made me any less nervous of course. I woke up at stupid o’clock this morning with my heart doing some seriously acrobatic somersaults and my mind racing like it was in a world qualifying sprint. I quelled the nervous energy enough to don my best outfit and apply some sturdy make up and headed out to my own personal judgement day.
I arrived at the venue way too early which meant an achingly long sit-in with the other girls going for the same part. We all sat there smiling sweetly whilst obviously tearing each others’ chances apart in our heads:
she’s far too blonde, she’s wearing too much make up, she just looks like she’d be a little bit shit…
Then, of course, you have the one that looks totally perfect for the part. She sits there, a picture of calm and collection – oozing confidence and high self esteem. You hear her asking if it would be possible to slot in a little earlier as she has two other auditions to get to this morning and a matinee of a show she’s doing at the Royal Court this afternoon.
You desperately try and blank her out and try and build up the house of cards that is your own confidence again before your name is called…
Damn it – my thumb fisted attempt to re-assemble my morale was only a job half done. Fuck it. Never mind. I am a model of cool and preparation. And Breathe….
I steeled myself and went into the room.
On the far side of the room, in front of a huge dance mirror was a desk with five people stacked behind. Five. Dear God. I recognised the director and the casting director and I assumed the others must have been the musical director and a couple of assistants. It was a peculiarly large space which meant I had a good ten metres to cover before reaching the sanctuary of their desk with its lonely sole chair perched on the other side of the eagle eyed panel.
‘Hello’ I said brightly with a huge grin painted on my face.
“Hi’ – came the cold clipped voice of the director. The others all remained silent – just numerous pairs of eyes staring at me, examining me.
I am a model of cool and preparation, I am a…. I walked across the space whilst desperately trying to not examine and judge my own walk reflected in the unforgiving mirror that loomed in front of me. As I walked the director scowled unattractively and leant into mutter something into the casting directors ear.
Shit – why are you scowling? What did you just whisper? You hate me. You hate me already. What have i done?
Despite the fact my soul was experiencing a car pile up inside, the smile was still plastered on on the outside by the time I reached the table and fell into the chair. The director was still muttering into the CD’s ear and I strained to hear what he was saying but he was somehow, magically totally inaudible to my stretched ear. I swear I don’t know how directors do this – but it’s a phenomenon I’ve come across more than one. Maybe at director school they’re taught how to speak at a resonance that actors can’t detect like the lowly dogs we are.
I sat there feeling terrifically awkward and praying for the earth to open up and greedily swallow me down.
When he finished his indiscernible monologue he turned and stared at the stack of papers in front of him without bothering to lift his heavy eyeballs to deign to make eye contact with me.
It was the casting director – a skeletal woman in her fifties with a mass of brown frizz for hair and a voice that would cut glass
‘I’m afraid that you’re just too tall for this part. We’ve already cast the man you’d be playing opposite and I’m afraid it just wouldn’t work. Thank you so much for coming in – maybe next time’
It was all I could do to stay sitting upright and not instantly crumple into a quivering wreck.
What??!??!?!? They weren’t even going to let me read? They weren’t going to let me perform the speeches that I’d spent hours picking to ensure they were the right match and spent days painstakingly preparing? I’ve gone without solid food this week so I could afford a singing lesson and you aren’t even going to let me open my mouth?
I breathed in deeply. Goddamn it – I was going to try one last jab of pushiness – maybe if they saw me act they’d instantly sack the short arse they’d hired and look for a taller boy rather than a smaller girl. Or just give him some stilts for fucks sake. Or cut me off at the knees, I’m not proud…
‘Would you mind if I gave you one of my speeches anyway?’, my words were slow and steady and forcibly bright as I concentrated very hard to dispel any quiver of emotion from my voice. It wasn’t easy – I could feel a wave of despair crashing up from my stomach and pulling in the walls of my throat
The CD looked at the director who, eyes still fixed on the desk, gave the slightest shake of his head.
‘Sorry Maggie – not today – we’re running late as it is.’
‘Okay. Well thank you for calling me in’
Why are you thanking them? The bastards – it says how tall you are on your CV – can they not read? They’ve just wasted a week of your life and – worse – dashed a dream that you could easily have done without the pain of having. They won’t even give you a couple of minutes to perform a crappy bloody monologue, and you THANK them?!
God I hated myself in that moment.
Needless to say I got out of there as quickly as I physically could and darted through the waiting room with my eyes firmly drilled to the floor. I could almost feel the wave of glee that went up from the awaiting auditionees at the girl who’d been in the room for just two minutes. At least their audition was unlikely to go that badly.
When I got to the safety of the street outside the tears blurted out.
I just felt so stupid. And, ironically, so very, very small.
I’m off now to find an incredibly TALL bottle of wine to lose my troubles in.
I’ll look out for positive Maggie and tell her to drop you a line next time she’s around…