My mom may have been difficult at times, but she always showed up for me. On the moving day from hell, she became a key part of our Impossible Mission Force...
Hubby David and I were struggling actors who’d lived our lives in cramped apartments, so when we were able to cobble together the dough to buy our first home, we were thrilled – a townhouse a block from Studio City! But as anyone in show business will tell you, it functions at your inconvenience. Moving day was no exception. I booked a national Dial Soap commercial shooting the same day, while David had a callback for a Pepsi spot. Obviously we weren’t going to turn down lucrative work or prospective work. This was our epic plan:
I’d leave our West Hollywood digs for my commercial’s Monrovia location at 5:30 am. At 6:30 am, David would pack our three cats and their litter boxes, drive to the Valley, pick up Mom and situate her in our empty townhouse with a folding table and chair, a carton of milk and some muffins. She would man the phone, watching the cats until the movers arrived that afternoon.
David then raced home to West Hollywood, waiting for our friend Jim to show up. Jim arrived at 9:30 am. David showered, dressed and left for his callback. Jim let the movers in, then he had an appointment and left, too. The movers were on their own with the detailed charts and moving instructions we had prepared and pre-taped both to our apartment walls and the walls of our new home, so the movers would know exactly where to put the furniture and 90 boxes!
Trust, particularly trusting strangers, is not something I would do, so this circus was beyond me…and there were other problems.
I learned how to pack from my mother and like her, was the energizer bunny, but after a solid month of packing every stinking belonging, I was still packing just before I left for my shoot early that morning. I prided myself on my professionalism and had never shown up for any job without sleep. This was a once in a lifetime exception.
When I got to Monrovia, I saw that we were shooting in a make believe airplane. When I donned my flight attendant costume, I was grateful to see muted lighting on set because the “passengers” were supposed to be asleep as I walked down the aisle, checking on them. All the morning camera shots were not of my profile, but my “ass-file.” They were behind me, so no one saw how exhausted I was. I’ll look and feel better after a meal. They’re not doing my close ups ‘til the afternoon.
I made it to lunch, shoveled in a plate of food and called Mom, dreading the disaster I would hear at the other end of the phone. I pictured my then 77-year old mother breaking her back on that folding chair with nothing but her latest book and some muffins to sustain her. As usual, she picked up on the second ring. Her warm, lilting accent was a comfort. She sounded happy and eager to be useful.
“David called. De movers got everything. He vwill mit dem here at 2 o’clock.”
“So it worked out. How are you doing? Is your back okay?”
“No prawblem!” Mom chirped. “De kitties are good. Dey are having a good time vwith Grandma!” She said with a giggle.
Cats hate change more than me. What could she possibly be doing to keep them entertained? I didn’t ask. But she could always read my mind. She knew her words were a relief, so much so that I wanted to cry. No. I’ll muss my make-up! I thought better of it.
“I lahve you,” she said.
The rest of our move was successful, as was my shoot and David’s callback (he later wound up booking the job.)
By the time I arrived home bleary-eyed at 5:00 pm, David had already taken Mom home. I found him sitting, pooped, on our outdated flowery roll-arm forest green sofa. Why did we ever buy that thing? It certainly did not go well with our new wine-berry living room accent wall. I looked at the 90 boxes in piles all over the room and then, staring at our ugly couch, started to cry and gasp. Loud and hard.
“Nothing goes with anything. Everything looks so small. And …I …made …us …do …this!”
David, typically unflappable, ruffled his brow. His eyes glazed over and he stared at me. His look said, “Lady I don’t know where you are right now but I can’t do this without you. Whatever planet you’re on, please come back.”
I went upstairs to call Mom, and between profound sobs, thanked her again for her help.
She was already on to the next topic.
“You hef a beautiful home… but you nid to buy some curtains.”
Then, “Do you hef shelf paper?”
“I’m on it, Ma.”
That was that with that.
After one last shniffle, I walked downstairs to the kitchen, ready to embark on our next mission, my only moment of buyer’s remorse behind me.
My mother could be a pain in the ass, but the one thing Mom and my husband always had in common – without question, they would jump into the deep end of the pool with me. The real Impossible Mission Force.