06 October 2005

Nate Cushman (part 1 of 2)

Well, here it is, that strange moment of hoping to track someone down via the internet commingling with my desire to blog about that person. And if you sacrifice his/her anonymity, what can you really say about them without invading their privacy? (Yes, I know my pronouns don't match- I'm irritated by the lack of a gender neutral third person in English.)

We met in LA years ago juicing* for a strange guy named Roy. The first gig was a spec pilot with the worst shot scheduling I've ever seen. We were up at Disney Ranch, a series of standing sets and locations, 45 minutes north of LA. We were making a low flat rate for the day, $75 I think, and when hour 20 rolled around, Roy held the "I'm invested in this, but you don't have to stay" meeting with his department. I told him I was leaving. I was the only one and I didn't care. I didn't even care if it meant not getting paid; I just wanted to go home and knew if I stayed any longer I wouldn't be awake enough for the drive. As I started walking to my car, the generator ran out of gas plunging everything into complete darkness. I briefly considered going back to help them wrap equipment, but I'd already said I was leaving and nothing sounded less appealing at the time than trying to return lights, stands, and cables to the truck with only flashlights for illumination. Production ended up calling everyone back in for a second day anyway.

A week later, Roy hired us on a 3 day $200/day photo shoot to make it up to us. The days were light and didn't run over the standard 12 hours. We'd only known each other a few days, but Nate was already teasing me with a dead-on impression of the shoulder/back stretch I often did while walking around. We discovered we both played tennis; Roy did too, but our casual plans didn't tend to include him: tennis is a game for even numbers afterall.

After we wrapped on the last day, Roy took us all out to dinner. Nate and I exchanged numbers before leaving so we could get together to play tennis.

When I told my friend Jaye about my tennis plans, she was thrilled that I had a date. I assured her we were just friends, "We're just going to play tennis and then have lunch."

"That's a date."

"No, it isn't."

"Yes, it is," she insisted.

I started to get nervous. Nate was tall, very strong without being bulky, reminded me of Jake, and was handsome. He wore old white t-shirts to work and wrapped a bandana pirate style over his hair, but it didn't distract me from his chiseled good looks; he was several years older than me and out of my league.

"How can it be a date if we're going to be all sweaty?" I mused. "Not like that," I added.

Jaye explained that it was the food that made her certain it was a date. Anticipation morphed into anxiety. In what seemed a stroke of genius to me, Jaye suggested I bring deodorant and a nice shirt to change into after the match.

The next morning I drove over to the courts at Griffith Park to meet Nate. A film crew had overtaken the playground and the tennis courts for a commercial. I looked around but didn't see him anywhere. Then I remembered there was another set of courts down the road across from the park. That's when it occurred to me that Griffith Park is the largest municipal park in the country and could well have more than one set of tennis courts within it as well.

It was 1999, so neither of us had cell phones though I did have a pager with voicemail service. I called his house from a payphone, but as was to be expected, he wasn't home, so I left a message detailing my location. After an hour or so, I drove to the other set of courts, but he wasn't there either, so I went home to check my messages. It wasn't far and I was out of change. I left him another message and thought to myself: If this is a date, it's the most disastrous beginning of all time...


*film set slang for working in the electric department.

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  1. "We met in LA years ago juicing* for a strange guy named Roy"

    - If you hadn't explained the terminology I would be lost (thank you for that). In fact my first thought was that juicing meant trying to woe or seduce or just pine for. (So Nate would then be gay and the rest of the story would make no sence at all...)

    Looking foreward to part deux!

  2. Film lingo is strange. Sometimes I have to remind myself that though many people outside the business know a lot more of it than they did, say, 10 or 15 years ago, there's still a whole set vernacular that's far less common.

    While I'm at it, an electric is often called a juicer in California while in England they're called sparks.

    part 2 will be up later today...