“Start what?” asks my therapist.
I asked for that question. Gotta talk this out.
“Start the calls,” I answer. “Mark told me all I need is fifteen write-ins. Just fifteen favors from my list of fifty yes-or-no’s.”
“Yes or no about what?”
“Yes or no about whether my film gets nominated. It’s Hollywood’s award season again.”
“Why is this an issue?”
“Because, I explain, “last week you told me I really, actually, don’t want to be rich and famous, even though I think I do. This might be another reason why you’re right.”
“Is a nomination good for you?”
“Are you avoiding it?”
“I just don’t wanna make the calls.”
“But that’s what people do.”
Except me, I’m thinking. I should want to, but I don’t. Or can’t. Or maybe I can, if my therapist can talk me into feeling okay about it. She’s good at this. She makes me feel safe.
I turn to her. She’s sitting five feet away, her long slender legs crossed under her knee-length skirt. They’re perfect, right down to her ankles. And they’re perfect too. I’d like to see her feet. Maybe she paints her toes, all different colors, like M&M’s.
My doc leans towards me in her chair. “Irv, where are we going with this?”
Right now? A marriage proposal. But I don’t say that. She’s gay…and committed, and I should start my story. I do.
“Last year Craig phoned me. He wanted me to vote for his movie, for an Academy Award nomination. He said he knew it was shameful to ask, ‘cause years ago we had this huge falling out. But he wanted the favor anyway.”
“But I didn’t do it. And not because he’s an A-1 asshole. His work didn’t compete with the others. But get this. He got nominated anyway! And I always wondered how many dudes he begged to get that.”
“Did he win?”
“Nope. But the nomination scored him and his wife orchestra seats at the Oscars and tickets to the Governor’s Ball, a super exclusive thing.”
“So Craig’s calls paid off.”
“Yep. And this year he bid against me on another film and got it. Producers hire the most famous people they can get.”
“So nominations are important.”
“Well…for Academy Awards, sure. For the craft awards, not so much.”
“Still, among your peers, the ceremonies and events keep your exposure up. Right?”
“Yet you don’t want to make the calls for your own nomination?”
“I make calls, about all kinds of stuff.” This couch is getting really hard. “But I don’t want to be phony about it.”
“How would you be phony?”
“I would be calling people I don’t consider my friends and asking for votes as if they were my friends.”
She leans back in her chair jotting down some words. I wonder if she likes me. I think she does. I think she understands me. And all my junk. Might as well dump the rest of it.
“There’s the rejection part too.”
Her eyes come back to me. “Irv, all winners deal with losing. They learn from it.”
“Well that’s them. I’m not good at it.” Like she didn’t know that already. But another story would help explain why.
“I’m a member of the Executive Committee of my branch in the Academy. Maybe nine or ten years ago, David, the out-going governor and one of our three committee heads, told me that he thought I would be right for his replacement and I should let people know I’m interested in running for his chair. But David also warned that I had to be discrete because politicking and soliciting is really frowned upon in the Academy.”
“This sounds like a big deal.”
“Not really. But a lot of people think it is. And I started to think so too.”
“So at the next Academy mixer, or a party or whatever, I approached governor number two. Matt wasn’t up for re-election, and so I told him I wanted a shot at David’s seat and asked, “Will you help me with that?”
“Now, of all the people on the board, I knew Matt most of all. Matt and his wife, Maria, were guests at our July 4th drop-in the year before. So when I asked for Matt’s support, I didn’t expect a blank stare.
“He turned you down?”
“It was humiliating. Of all the people I had to ask, Matt, a governor of our Academy branch, was THE most important and he was the closest thing to being my friend. But even that so-called friend wouldn’t give me his vote.”
My analyst scribbles more notes. “How did you react?”
“I stopped the whole thing. I wasn’t supposed to be campaigning anyway.”
“But you say people do.”
“Right. Two weeks later I got a call from Garry. He wanted that job, like everybody wanted it. But Garry was phoning everyone on the board, pleading!”
“Did it make a difference?”
“Yep. He snatched the prize – a seat on the Academy’s Board of Governors, and tickets to the Academy Awards and all the parties with the all the famous people.”
“Which propelled his career,” she adds.
“Actually, two years later he got fired from the studio he was working for. Nobody’s supposed to talk about it.”
She looks at me, as if to ask, ‘Why was he fired?’ But ask, she does not, which is good ‘cause I can’t tell her. Well I can, but I don’t want to. It’s not my story.
“What does all this mean to you?” comes from my doc, breaking the silence.
“It reinforces what I’ve felt all along. I don’t compete very well. I feel cheap asking for power boosts. So I don’t.”
“Are you asking, or offering your service?”
“Depends,” I answer fast, having thought about this a lot. “I’ve been asked to join clubs and help out. And I have. I’ve even been asked to head professional groups, and I’ve done that too. But pressuring people for something personal, like a nomination… Which, I guess…” My eyes wander to the ceiling. “Would be a good if I can get it.”
Again the room falls into a hush. I’m sort of waiting for my doc’s work-around. Professionally this thing is a no-brainer – go for the status. But then there’s me…in the way of that.
“Irv?” she mutters again.
I turn. She’s wrapping this up. I can tell when she lowers her voice.
“What’s bothering you the most? Getting rejected or feeling like a manipulator?”
“The manipulation part.”
“But is asking for support, manipulation?”
“Not if I’ve been giving. Not if it’s all balanced.”
“It’s about sharing and caring. If I haven’t given something to someone; like my help, my time, my friendship, even ten minutes of sincere concern, I don’t feel justified asking for anything. I don’t want to be a user.”
“Which you believe is…”
“Making someone feel obligated to help me.”
“Which is something you don’t like being done to you.”
She puts down her pad, concluding with, “Then Irv, all you can do, is be is yourself.”
I knew she’d say that. I come back with, “But suppose that’s not good enough?”
“Irving, you’re good enough for me.”
She’s smiling…at me! Now I’m grinning. “Really?”
“And I’m not a wuss if I don’t do the calls?”
“No. You’re fine just the way you are. Now all you need to do, is believe you’re good enough for yourself.”
“Okay. I’ll try. Promise. But let’s talk about how I’m good enough for YOU.”
Originally posted on Curiosityquills.com.