Right now I have one of those regrettable pimples which straddles the line between philtrum and lip. It could not possibly give more of an impression of herpes. My skin has been relatively clear since my sophomore year of high school, when a reaction to the antibiotic I was taking for my acne gave me 105 degree nightly fevers for two weeks, along with migratory arthritis pain and other lupus-like symptoms. I lost 20 pounds, and my own body heat apparently burned the puss-filled little nodules right off my face.
Before that, I think it's safe to say that my acne, and my baseline lack of awareness of how young people communicate with each other, were a continual death for me. The memories are thankfully dimming, but I was not a happy young person. The casual cruelties of adolescence were keenly felt, and the persona I've since cobbled together (ha ha, lookit me! jokesy jokes and articulation! get it, fuckers?) is doubtless a direct offshoot of this misery. I find people who remember childhood as an idyllic time intolerable. You cried more then, did you not? I cry much less now than I did back then. Case closed.
Anyway, this is all by way of saying that I act the way I do - in which I'm including, you know, acting - because I was really uncool and fairly unpleasant to look at as a kid. At least, I felt very unattractive, and when I first received indication that there might be pleasing things about my personality, I latched on to them like a lamprey. I guess everyone does this. I'm just letting you know, me too.
So, two things. One, I'm taking this weirdly intense acting class now. It's very explicitly and exclusively geared towards contemporary, high-emotion, Meisner-type naturalistic acting. The teacher, "Daryl," indicates clearly that the issues he'll be exploring do not relate to musicals, Shakespeare ("performed in a large space"), or anything performed in a 'style.' Surely he recognizes the problematic linguistic challenges such a view raises, but. Whatever. I guess we all know what he means. Acting like you're not acting, feeling stuff for realsies.
In this class, "Daryl" makes a case for maintaining a keen awareness of all the things that we as people throw up in front of ourselves in order to avoid confronting ourselves as we really are and the ubiquitous proximity of death. These distractions can include many tiny satisfactions or large compulsions, but boil down (in his view) to self-love. He asked us to take note of how many times during a week we finish an interaction with someone congratulating ourselves on what a good impression we left on that person, or reveling in how much the person loves us; how many times we go offstage feeling good because we 'nailed it,' though the character we played was in misery.
I'd like to state explicitly that I don't see anything "wrong" with these kinds of minor deceptions. We are all of us a pack of neuroses. There is no ideal "real me" under all my defense mechanisms and self-destructive patterns. What you see is what you get.
That said, the sense of satisfaction I get when I think I've said something perfectly and been heard and appreciated - yeah, that's something of which I can't get enough. And that may be one of the things that sucks about me. I guess it depends on how accurately I am able to judge my own wit.
The second thing - Jesus Christ, I do go on - is that I'm naked in the show I'm in right now, and I say very little. The reviews (which have been very positive, I really encourage you to see it),
when they mention me, mention only my body.
Physical attractiveness is not what I'm "going for," really. My face is fine, you know, nothing to make you compose a poem which you would then send to your mother. I'm not going to be an action movie star - or, fuck, any kind of movie star - and that's cool with me. (Be advised: yes, these are the constant considerations of the professionally observed.) But between the reviews, and my peachy girlfriend, I get a lot of praise for my physical loveliness. And I, really, I don't know what to do with it. Tell me I'm smart or funny and that goes right in my Ego Bank for repeated reflection at later dates, but tell me I'm good looking and, what, good, glad I've done a lot of pushups. It's nice, you know. Rather have praise than ridicule, surely, it's a step up since middle school, but it doesn't feed me in the way "Daryl" encourages us to be aware of.
I am a terrible man.