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The Benefits of Walking


Britt Leach



I have started a regimen of walking four days a week, and I don’t mean just around the apartment either. Here’s a photo of what I look like when I’m walking. And even though it was taken while I was inside because I couldn't get good light outside you must believe me when I tell you that I walk outside four days a week. I’m walking for my heart and for my head, for my physical health and for relaxation.

It doesn’t always work out—relaxation. Yesterday on my walk I came upon a film crew on the street behind my apartment building. Wasn’t I so very lucky? I’m always so happy to come across a film crew because it reminds me of how I spent so many wonderful years. Here are some photos that I took for you.

Look at that huge trailer; that’s some actor’s dressing room, some well-paid actor’s dressing room. Look at the size of that thing. A trailer for the star of the film or the TV show. A star who could be making two-hundred thousand a week on TV, even more if it’s a movie that's being shot on the residential street behind my apartment building.

I stop to take a photo. The trailer has what is called I believe a slide on the side. Or a slide-out, that compartment that is cranked out to make the trailer even bigger. A star actor needs that little extra room—for an easy chair, a massage table, a dining area for a catered lunch, a canopied bed. I stand there quietly taking pictures wondering whose trailer it is. "Who is the little bitch?" I say. Some teen probably, Tiffany Sweetness, Muffins Derry Aire. Or some young punk actor named Greg. Gregory John Lovebuns, one more actor with three names, by which gravitas is obtained. The unbearable lightness of being an actor.

Yessir, I think, standing there, that slide-out on the side of this kid’s trailer, just that slide-out by itself, is larger than the largest dressing room I ever had. When I was acting I would always dress and wait (and wait) in a tiny dressing room in a truck affair called the honey wagon that contained multiple dressing rooms along with restrooms for the crew. Many times I was lucky enough to have a dressing room that was right next to the restroom for the crew. Bang! The door. God, could those good people consume liquids, and eat. Bang! The door.

Dressing rooms, thinking about dressing rooms as I move along, nodding with only a hint of hostility toward the security guard, who’s giving me the eye. Yes, I’m moving; I’m moving. By the way, I’m a member of the goddamn Academy of Motion…AMPAS, the Oscar people, you know? So don’t fuck with me, Ms. Security. Okay?

Dressing rooms. That punk actor's goddamn big-ass trailer. Look at it. Once I did a little film called “Ralph S. Mouse” where I had a dressing room made from garbage bags. Oh, yes, I did; and that is true. That’s true, Ms. Set Security. Stop looking at me; I’m moving. The crew constructed a wooden frame and stapled black plastic garbage bags to it, thus making a lovely little black plastic tent, which was where I dressed. My little tent of a dressing room was on the sound stage, right close to the set, so I’d be handy, available to do my stuff with a stop-motion mouse. Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot; I also had a nice metal folding chair in my tent. There was a well-known actress who was also in the film, and she was given a motor home, big old motor home. I won’t mention her name; it wasn’t her fault that she had the motor home and that I dressed in a garbage bag tent of a goddamn thing. Karen Black.


How could I have allowed it? Oh, my dears. How could I have allowed it? But I’m walking; I’m walking.

I move along down the street, away from the film location behind my apartment building; and as I continue to walk I move past all that silly, silly business about acting; it just goes away. I don’t think about acting much anyway. Silly, silly stuff. The silly, silly parts I played. No, I don’t think about it. It's just when I come across a film crew on location somewhere in my neighborhood or sometimes when I go out to dinner with a well-known character actor, a friend. And people come over to our table and make noises of recognition over him, like big mama birds, and he stretches out his neck and opens his mouth and takes it all in. The worms of praise, the rictus of fame. Sometimes that gets to me. But, no, not really, not that much.

I continue my walk, one day of four, turning toward home now and random things come to me. I'm on my street. I pass that intersecton that I mentioned last week, where the crosswalks are frequently blocked. I walk on, not thinking about acting, just random things. I remember that I can read French with a little dictionary help and that I studied Ancient Greek on my own for a while. There’s a Greek word “aporia,” that means both perplexity and lack of provisions. That’s interesting to me. What else? An English word, “Posh,” does not derive from initials meaning “port out starboard home.” Eskimos don’t really have fifty words for snow. There’s a difference between “lay” and “lie.” “Begs the question” is frequently misused. The Chinese word for “crisis” is not composed of words meaning “danger” and “opportunity.” “Tawdry” is derived from “Saint Audrey.”

Walking, walking.

I get to my building and open the gate, walk toward our apartment, open the door and go inside. The cat box needs my attention; I take care of it. The cats are asleep and Cathy’s at work. But her photos are here, among them one of my favorites, "Blue Sandwich," and others, almost an entire wall of her work. And a painting by a South African artist named Fortune Sitole, “Girls At Play.” I sit down in my big La-Z Boy, stretch out and look at the wall opposite with its great artwork; I'll be here for a while. I put a pillow behind my head.###


17 November 2006

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Catherine Roberts Leach

 Catherine Roberts Leach
 Fortune Sitole

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