There's that one moment, if you're lucky enough, that you realize you've met your soul mate. For me, it happened 3 years ago, backstage, at Beach Blanket. I was the jaded principal costume mistress, and I was assigned a eager, new understudy; a young Midwestern queen named Andy Jay Jolley. Andy and I hit it off immediately, spending every break chain-smoking Marlboro Lights and gossiping about everyone in the back steps. Smoking, while horrible, is a sure-fire way to make friends at work. Forced into the darkest recesses of workplaces, smokers huddle together and talk trash. Andy and I instantly discovered we'd be fast friends. But it wasn't until a few months into our friendship that we realized just how profound our bond would become.
Backstage is just as choreographed as onstage. With 10 actors and 4 crew positions, in a space smaller than our backyard, it's incredibly complicated and fast paced. It takes months to train and is a big deal when you finally solo. As the only girl crew member at the time, my solo was celebrated with my introduction to Petron. It's like graduating theater boot camp, surviving aggressively homosexual hazing, and aging 3 years in 3 months. Andy was almost ready to solo, and it was his final show with me still backstage, watching his every move. At this point, he pretty much had it down to muscle memory, and could chat and relax a little.
We were having a good time, laughing and joking around with everyone, Andy perfectly trained to rip the clothes off and throw different ones back on. Under their costumes, men wear dance belts: little, lycra, banana hammock thongs in either white, black, or nude. There are always men in dance belts running around, and quite frankly, you never get quite used to it.
Towards the end of the show, backstage is packed, a mass of actors all getting ready for the finale. I'm huddled in a corner, trying to stay out of the way but still keeping an eye on Andy, as everyone is throwing on gospel choir outfits. One actor in particular, Tiny Pabst*, has just returned from a quick pit stop. To my horror, I notice a perfect quarter size pee stain in the center of his nude dance belt. I instantly look up and search for anyone to join me in this hilarious observation.
With 14 people backstage, only one set of big blue eyes caught mine. Andy and I suddenly realize the other has witnessed the horrifying sight. What makes it so hilarious is the fact that Tiny Pabst is nuts, certifiably insane. He marches around singing "Pork Chops and Applesauce!", so much so that for Secret Santa, he was actually given pork chops and applesauce. He, while wearing a dashiki, made a pass at my father in the middle of a Christmas Party. He twice had a breakdown and refused to go on stage in the middle of shows. He's bizarre, and everyone from BBB totally knows who I'm talking about right now. Yeah, Tiny had a big, bright, pee stain, and Andy and I were the sole observers.
Years later (yesterday), Andy recalled, "That's when I knew we'd be friends forever. You were the only other person that noticed, and as soon as I saw that you saw, it became the funniest thing that has ever happened. "
Somehow, everything changed after Andy and I shared in Tiny's unknown humiliation. We became instantly inseparable, and remain so. It's true, what they say. Sometimes, it takes a traumatic, life-changing event to bring two people together.
*Tiny Pabst is obviously not his real name. But, if you know who I’m talking about, “Tiny Pabst” is hilarious. Of course, Andy thought of it.