"It's Only Make Believe"
Chapter 1: Misty and the Fireman
"Miss Knight, have a seat and let's get you prepped."
That's Bobbi Holstclaw, my manager, my boss, my mentor, my friend. Actually, I'm not too sure about the friend part of that. She's a business person- all business, all the time-a real hard charger, and she's in charge of me! She's several years my senior, and I think of her as an aunt. I made the mistake of calling her Aunt Bobbi one time—and only one time. She let me know, in no uncertain terms, that she's not the friendly aunt type. I won't make the mistake of calling her Aunt Bobbi, ever again. I'm a little afraid of her, but I like her, and I'd like to be more like her.
I'm not a hardworking business person. I'm a college dropout with no ambition, no drive, and no talent to get very far on. My parents were disappointed when I dropped out of school, but attending classes and studying is a waste when you have no idea what you're studying for. I wasn't a good student, and I was about to flunk out anyway.
Thanks to Bobbi, I'm now a career woman-a model, a spokesperson-and other women want to be me. According to Bobbi, I have the look the Holstclaws were looking for. Who are the Holstclaws? They have an up and coming cosmetic business. Look out Revlon and Cover Girl because the Holstclaws mean business, and they're excellent business people.
Can you imagine trying to sell something named Holstclaw Cosmetics to their target consumers, which are young women and teenage girls? They quickly renamed it Misty Night Cosmetics, and I've become the Misty Night Girl. You'll find me on every package of Misty Night Cosmetics you purchase.
After dropping out of school, I managed to pick up a few part time modeling gigs, but they were few and far between. I'm too short to become a super model, and because of my small size I was limited to modeling as a teen, or sometimes as a preteen. Yes, I can still make myself look like a sexy little twelve year old. After a short spurt of popularity, my modeling gigs dried up, and I was getting hungry. I was almost ready to go back home and admit I was a failure. The only reason I applied for the modeling job with Misty Night Cosmetics was because of the coincidence of the name. My name happens to be Misty Knight.
Bobbi Holstclaw interviewed me, and she hired me before the interview was concluded. She convinced the rest of the Holstclaws that I had the look—and here I am—the Misty Night Girl.
The look, according to Bobbi, is that of a young woman with small, neat features, who looks nice, but isn't too glamorous; sort of like the girl next door who is just a little out of your league. The look also had to have great hair because Misty Night also sells shampoo and conditioner. I don't know how great it is, but I have a ton of hair, and sometimes it's a pain. I was considering having it cut short, but Bobbi said, "No!" I'm not sure why because they want it put up for my photo shoots and commercials. For the hair commercial, I reach up, take it loose, and shake it out by gently shaking my head. Hopefully, it falls, swings, and flows the way they want it to. If not, I have to sit while the hair dresser fixes it back up, so I can take it loose on camera and shake it out again. It took several attempts before I got that commercial right.
Of course, I have to wear a ton of make-up, and they won't let me apply it myself. My make-up and my hair have to be professionally done.
Bobbi says, "Girl, with your features, you don't even need make-up, but we're selling cosmetics, so sit still and let them get you fixed." It requires a lot of sitting still for them to get me fixed just right.
The look, according to Bobbi, is also supposed to be that of a highly intelligent, studious, serious-minded, young woman. Bobbi says, "Think of yourself as a young woman studying for a law degree, or possibly you could be a pre-med student." That's quite a stretch for me, but Bobbi says I have it. I think she has an over-active imagination.
Today, they're prepping me for another TV commercial, and I'm not too happy about this one because it doesn't feature me by myself. I don't like sharing the spotlight. Well, I suppose it does feature me, but there's also a male actor who comes in right after I pretend to touch-up my Misty Night lipstick. Ha, they would have a fit if I actually touched-up their make-up job. Anyway, this actor steps into the picture, we embrace, and then kiss, while a soft mist swirls up around us—The End.
He had better be a good looking guy because I don't think I can perform a fake kiss very well. I'm actually rather shy, and I don't kiss just anyone. I'll have to psych myself up to do it, so if he's good looking it shouldn't be too difficult. Ha, I don't even know this guy. This is going to be a difficult commercial. I hope I can get it right on the first take.
At last, the hair stylist and make-up artist pronounce me ready. They have these big, loopy earrings on me, and I don't like the way they feel. Bobbi doesn't like them either.
"Get those earrings off her, and lighten up on the make-up. It's too much. She isn't supposed to look like a prostitute. Use those little diamond studs instead of the big loops on her ears."
Damn it, I have to sit still while they take off the make-up and start over. I'm getting exasperated and the commercial hasn't started yet. This is getting more difficult all the time.
This time, when they finish with me, Bobbi smiles and says, "Perfect! Now let's go meet your co-star."
I don't want to meet my co-star. This commercial is about me, and how terrific I look because I use Misty Night cosmetics. There's no need for anyone else to be in it.
"Misty, this is Bobby Dallas, the Fireman."
Yuck. He's one of those big, muscular, macho-type guys, and he needs a shave. His beard looks like scratchy, wire brush bristles—and we're supposed to embrace and kiss? He'd better not scratch my face. He's wearing jeans and a black tee, his hair looks windblown, and as I step closer, I realize he towers over me. I'm wearing high heels, but this is going to require quite a stretch.
"Hello, Misty. Wow! This is going to be fun!" He gives me a big, goofy smile.
I reply, "Fun? Not for me! This is strictly business."
"But you won't mind if I enjoy it, will you?"
Did I think this was going to be difficult? This is going to be impossible. Just to make conversation I ask, "Have you done many commercials before—possibly one for an electric razor or maybe an after shave commercial?"
He runs his hand over his rough beard and says, "No, this is my first commercial—my first acting job—in fact."
"Well, you aren't going to enjoy it, and neither am I."
"I don't see why not. I've read the script, and I like the part—and I especially like my leading lady."
Script? What script? There are no speaking parts. I'm to do a voice-over that will be plugged in later concerning my thoughts about the cosmetics I'm using.
"Humph! Bobbi, this isn't going to work. It will be too awkward."
He replies, "No, we can make it work."
"I wasn't speaking to you!"
Bobbi says, "She was speaking to me, Mr. Dallas. My name is also Bobbi, only with an I on the end instead of a Y. And it's going to work, Misty, because you're going to make it work."
I just barely manage to prevent myself from telling her to "Go to hell," and walking out. Instead, I take some deep breaths and meditate briefly—too briefly—but I manage to smile and say, "Yes, I'll try to make it work."
Bobbi says, "All right, people, let's get this show on the road." She points to the two X marks on the floor. "Bobby, it's alright if I call you Bobby, isn't it?"
"Sure, everybody calls me Bobby—Bobbi."
"Good, Bobby, this is your spot. Stand on it, face this way, and I'll give you a signal when to move forward and take Misty in your arms. Misty, this is your spot. The scene opens with the camera on you. You know what you're supposed to do. Just use this fake lipstick to touch up your lips, and don't mess anything up. You know what else to do."
"Wait a minute! We aren't starting now, are we?"
"Yes, we are."
"Doesn't he need to go through make-up—get a shave—have his hair combed—and change clothes?"
"No, we want him just the way he is."
"Well, I don't! Bobbi, you promised me he would be a handsome young man."
Bobbi throws up her hands and says, "He is—isn't he?"
I refuse to dignify that with an answer.
"Compose yourself, Misty. Al, you may start filming. Misty, as soon as you're ready, start touching up your lips, but don't rush it. We need time to get your voice-over in before the kiss."
Damn it, I'm not ready—and I can't psych myself up to kiss this character. After a few deep breaths and another short period of meditation, I open the scene by lightly touching the fake lipstick to my lips and pretending to think.
This is the first commercial, or photo shoot, that I don't really want to do, but I'm under contract, and I'm being well paid for being the Misty Night Cosmetics Girl. Looking at my co-star, I realize he's a rank amateur. We have to embrace and kiss, and he doesn't know anything about acting. He looks rough, and I have to make this work. This isn't a man I would choose to kiss—provided I had a choice, which I don't. Bobbi chose this guy, and I haven't a clue as to why she chose him, but she's the boss. Oh, well, what the hell, it's merely a kiss, and I've kissed my share of guys before. This shouldn't be so difficult, especially if I think about how well I'm being paid.
I'm also thinking about flying home for Christmas, my first trip home in years, and I'm going to impress the hell out of my family and friends. I've finally made it—as a model. I'm the Misty Night Girl!
There's Bobbi's signal, and here he comes with that goofy smile on his face. Why didn't Bobbi hire a real actor—a smooth, suave, good looking guy that I could enjoy kissing? Where's Pierce Brosnan when you need him?
What does he think he's doing? He grabs me at my waist, and lifts me up off the floor. We're face to face. He forcibly presses his lips against mine. I push back against his chest, but he stays with it. By twisting my head from side to side, I manage to break my lips away from his. Bobbi says, "Cut, cut, cut!" Mist starts coming up around us. Keeping my head turned aside, I manage to catch my breath. He kisses me again, lightly, on the cheek.
"Put me down—you idiot!"
He carefully lowers me until my high heels touch the floor, but he doesn't release my waist.
"Let go of me!"
"Bobbi says, "That wasn't the way you were supposed to do it. Turn off that damn mist dispenser! Bobby, you weren't supposed to pick her up. We want a nice, smooth, sensuous, lover's embrace."
Bobbi forces me to face her and looks directly in my eyes for longer than I'm comfortable with. "Relax, Misty, take a moment to compose yourself. There's no harm done, your make-up is still perfect. Charlie, get a fan and blow this mist away."
My moment to compose myself doesn't last long enough. The mist has cleared, and Bobbi says, "Alright people, let's try it again—and Bobby, don't pick her up this time."
I'm nervous as I pretend to touch up my lipstick. My co-star is smiling, but I can tell he's nervous too. This take probably isn't going to be any good. Our embrace starts out okay. I place my hands lightly on his shoulders, stretch upward, and turn my face up to receive his kiss. He carefully slides his arms around my back—and crushes me! I can't breathe! His kiss is too forceful, abusing my lips, and I can't push away, or twist away.
"Cut—cut! Bobby, let her go. This isn't a rape! It's supposed to be a romantic love scene."
I manage to escape, and this time I dart away—into my dressing room. I'm only allowed a few minutes to myself before Bobbi comes in, and she brought the make-up artist with her. Evidently, I need a little touching up.
A few minutes later we're ready to shoot again. Bobbi says, "Third time's the charm. Let's do it!"
The third time isn't a charm. We're both nervous and the embrace is awkward. The kiss, if you can call it a kiss, is even more awkward. We bump noses and back off. Before Bobbi can say, "Cut," he comes at me again and forces another fierce, firm lip press on me. Totally ignoring Bobbi's, "Cut—Cut—Cut!" command. The mist swirls and Bobbi fusses.
When we get settled down, I suggest, "This isn't going to work. Get someone else, an experienced actor, in place of him."
Bobbi says, "No, we want the Fireman for this commercial. Misty, you have to make it work."
"I have to make it work? Tell him to make it work! He's the one who's ruining it!"
"Let's all relax—take five—and then we'll try again."
The five becomes fifteen, but I'm not complaining about that. We're starting the scene again, and this time I'm going to pretend to be in love with this guy. Maybe I need some acting lessons.
Our embrace starts out smooth enough. I place my hands on his shoulders, then slide one hand behind his neck and stretch up for the kiss. He tightens the embrace—too tight—but I can deal with it. I force myself to be receptive to his kiss.
So far, so good, maybe this one will be a wrap. What's he …? I grab a handful of his hair and try to yank it out by the roots while trying to get my mouth away from his. He lets me go. Smack! I give him a hard slap on his scratchy cheek.
"If you try that again, I'll bite!"
He's shocked. He rubs his hand across his cheek where I just slapped him and takes a step back. We glare at each other—and he looks away first.
He apologizes, "I'm sorry. I thought you—uh—never mind. I won't try that again."
Bobbi says, "The crew and I are going to take a coffee break, half an hour. During that time I want you two to stay here. I don't care how you do it, but I want you to kiss and make up. Then I want you to rehearse the scene until you can do it correctly."
I'm about to blast back at her when my co-star says, "Maybe you better give us an hour." It causes some laughter. Even I almost laugh.
Bobbi agrees, "You have one hour. There's a pastry shop just down the street—let's go." Everybody walks out leaving us alone. We're not going to kiss and make up. I turn and walk away.
"Where are you going?"
"Well don't spend too much time in there. We've only got an hour."
I nearly laugh again.
When I return, fifteen minutes later, he asks, "Are you ready to kiss and make up?"
I indignantly reply, "We are not going to kiss and make up!"
"Okay, let's just rehearse then."
I shake my head in exasperation. "All right, but remember, we're simply play-acting."
"Right—play-acting—get on your spot and don't bother rehearsing the touch up of your lipstick. You have that down pat. Let's start with the embrace."
"Alright, but you don't have to hold me so tightly."
"I wouldn't hold you so tight if you'd stop trying to get away."
He puts his arms around me. "Remember, slow and sensuous—and not too tight."
"I don't exactly know what sensuous means."
"It means—never mind, just take it slow and easy."
"All right, slow and easy and not too tight—how's this?"
"Now for the hard part, how do I do a play-acting kiss?"
"Pretend I'm your sister."
We're both still laughing when he initiates the kiss, and it's a quick one.
"That was good. Let's try the kiss again—without laughing this time."
We both take a deep breath and try again. It starts out light and easy—no problem—until his embrace tightens and he intensifies the kiss. I let it go at first, but it becomes too intense, and I want out. I'm in no position to push away, so I dig my nails into the back of his neck. He's ignoring it, so I scratch him, breaking a nail. The more I struggle, the tighter he holds me. I can't breathe. Finally, he realizes I'm struggling and releases me.
We're both trying to catch our breath. He manages it first and says, "Sorry, I got a little carried away, and nobody said Cut!"
"There was no one else here to say it, and I certainly couldn't. You wouldn't let me. Didn't you feel my nails digging into the back of your neck?"
"Yeah, I sure did. I thought you were getting excited."
"I was getting excited! But not in the way you think!"
He's laughing, but I don't join in. His hands are still on me, around my waist, but I don't think he's trying to hold me if I want to step away. Instead, he releases me and steps away—over to his X on the floor.
He asks, "Are you ready to rehearse it again?"
"No! I'm not."
He brushes his hand across the back of his neck and then looks at his hand.
"Are you bleeding?"
"No, not really, there's just a little touch of red."
"Well, you broke one of my nails. Aw—two of my nails are broken."
"Sorry bout that."
I walk over to his X. "Let me see your neck. Oh, did I do all that?"
"I haven't been attacked by any other women lately."
His scratches are red and angry looking, but there's no dripping blood. I'll have to clean his skin out from under what's left of my nails.
"We're wasting our hour. Let's rehearse it again. I think I'm getting the hang of this play-acting, and I'll try not to get carried away. This time, if you want to call 'cut,' just pinch me on the back of my neck. I'll get the message."
We rehearsed it several more times, too many, in fact, but the last few rehearsals were satisfactory, and I didn't have to pinch him too many times.
We broke off our final rehearsal in the middle of the kiss when the crew came back and Bobbi said, "Well, well, well, I think you've finally got it. Misty, we need you back in the dressing room. Your hair is coming loose."
Okay, after taking several minutes for my hair and make-up to be repaired, and to get composed again, I'm standing on my X, ready to start through it for real this time. Just as we start the kiss, Bobbi says, "Cut, cut, cut!" My co-star refuses to cut. He's really into the part, and he insists on finishing the scene.
Bobbi asks, "What are you doing with those scratches on the back of your neck?"
"Misty got a little excited while we were rehearsing."
I'm suddenly embarrassed, but fortunately it doesn't show because of all my make-up.
The make-up artist has to work on the back of my co-star's neck to cover the scratches.
Finally, we're ready to go again, and we get it right this time—until he lifts me slightly and forces me back in a dip. Bobbi yells "Cut!" but he continues the kiss, and there's nothing I can do about it.
Bobbi fusses, "Why in the hell did you do that?"
"You said you wanted it romantic. I thought dipping her was kind of romantic."
"Don't do any more thinking! We zoomed in on a close-up and you dipped down out of it. Do it straight up. We want a romantic, sexy kiss, but don't try to lay her down."
He doesn't seem to mind getting fussed at, and he gives me a smile as he walks back to his X. Bobbi checks me over and decides my hair and make-up are still satisfactory.
"Let's do it again—and get it right this time—no ad-libbing."
This take is going smoothly until he overdoes it on the embrace. It becomes a bear hug, and he makes the kiss a little too intense. I try to stay with it—but it becomes too much. When I start to struggle, he puts his hand on the back of my head and holds me so I can't escape from the kiss. Bobbi calls out, "Cut," but he doesn't cut. He eases the caveman tactic a little, but doesn't let me out of the kiss. The mist swirling up around us is already dissipating before he lets me escape.
As soon as I catch my breath, I ask, "We've rehearsed this correctly enough times for you not to go all macho on me like that. Why did you mess up this take?"
"You mean you really don't know?"
He's still lightly holding me, so I simply look at him and shake my head.
"If we do it correctly, then that's it—we're done."
Bobbi says, "You two may continue this later, as long as you want, but we're wasting the film crew's time. Just do it correctly and we'll get out and leave you alone."
"Let go of me! You've been messing up these takes on purpose?"
"Just these last two—the rest of them I messed up accidentally."
I quickly walk away, enter my dressing room, and slam the door. Bobbi follows right behind me and gets on my case.
"You're acting like some kind of prima-donna movie star, running off to pout in your dressing room. That man just paid you a compliment. Take a few minutes to calm down, and then get your ass out there and do this commercial for me."
A few minutes later, I come out and say, "Let's do it."
When we get on our Xs, my co-star asks, "Misty, if we do this one correctly, will you have dinner with me tonight? I promise to shave and change clothes."
I smile, mysteriously, and tell him, "I'll give you my answer after we do this."
We run through it smoothly—the mist swirls around—this one feels right—and Bobbi says, "That's a wrap." I heard her, so he had to hear her, but he doesn't end the kiss. He isn't holding me in a bear hug, so I don't bother to put up a fuss and try to escape. When he finally ends the kiss I'm short of breath, and so is he. He isn't forcing me to remain in the embrace, only holding me loosely. I decide not to push away in order to answer his date request from a safe distance.
"My answer is—No—I will not have dinner with you."
"Okay, would you mind telling me why?"
"I don't have to answer that." He takes his hands off me. "But I will. I don't particularly like you. You came on too strong."
"Yeah, I did, but how often does an opportunity with someone like you come along? Almost never-especially an opportunity like this one was. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it, but I certainly did. If you ever need anybody to do another commercial with, I'm volunteering for the job."