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You never leave the Hollywood mailroom

by Jill Effron

You never leave the Hollywood mailroom. Trust me, you don’t. I know this because I just proved it this morning. My daughter is going to a performing arts camp and has her show on Friday. She got the part of “Sailor #1.” I’ve known about her costume needs for less than a week, but somehow chose to do nothing about it until Monday night, after finding out dress rehearsal is on Wednesday.

Immediately I took to Facebook asking if anyone had a puffy pirate shirt and black belt with a buckle. (If Seinfeld were still on the air, I’d secretly raid their show wardrobe rack for Jerry’s puffy shirt!) Besides that, she needed black boots. I figured her gray Uggs would suffice. Of course, the director in me yelled at the mom in me, “They said ‘black’ not ‘gray.’” Director Jill can be so tough sometimes.

Radio silence on Facebook.

Tuesday morning, I dropped my son off at school at 9:15 and it was on. I had two-and-half hours to get my daughter a costume that I could bring to camp at 3pm for approval. But before I embarked on what was deemed later in the morning as the “Amazing Costume Race,” I had to fuel up. That’s right, I required an expensive mocha from my favorite coffee shop and a pit stop.

With mocha in hand, I hopped in my swagger wagon, my mini aircraft… the mini van. Sixteen years ago it was a jeep and a cheap cup of coffee. Which seems cooler? You decide.

Months in the mailroom and a coupla years as a production assistant under my belt, I knew how to get this job done in the amount of time I had to do it in.

Only now instead of impatient, demanding executives waiting for scripts or checks, I currently answered to an impatient, demanding 7-year-old who, if the costume isn’t what she imagined, just might explode. However, in my current scenario I can punish my mini exec for ill behavior, whereas 16 years ago I would have been on the receiving end of the punishment. Who’s on top now, suckas?!

With a purse full of change, I hit the mean streets of the westside. First costume shop — fail! Second costume shop – denied! Okay, with only an hour and fifteen left, things weren’t looking good. I sent out 11 S.O.S. texts to some moms ISO the items above. (Sure, this should’ve been done the night before, but it wasn’t…. okay? Get off my back!)

Two had potential items. Progress. But it wasn’t good enough. I hit Party City — bam! Belt and shirt. Not a puffy shirt, but a pirate shirt. Not a black belt, but a sash. I wrestled in my head, “It’s a one-time show, they have to be okay with it.” “Would you be okay with it if this was your play that you were directing?” “No. But I would have to get over it.” This went on and on until I found boot covers. Next stop was Ross where I found a belt. Then I went off to visit a friend who had a blousey shirt, not a puffy shirt. I grabbed that, too.

By 11:50 I had piece-mealed her costume together. Three hours until I find out if I was approved, that I rocked it on my “Amazing Costume Race” and the prize is what? Validation for all!

3:05pm I entered the auditorium and approached the counselor, who was probably a toddler when I was in the mailroom, and showed him all the options. He just nodded to each item and said, “What do you think?” That’s not validation — at least not the kind I was looking for. What do I think?! I think I didn’t need to spend my morning on a scavenger hunt and texting 11 friends for a costume, that’s what I think!

I took a breath, smiled and reminded myself where I am, thanked him and took my wares and my child and left. Tomorrow morning will be the “return of shame.” Without the mocha.

Jill Effron

About Jill Effron

Jill Effron is a writer and mom of two darling kiddies. Prior to the mom gig, she spent ten plus years working in every genre of television. Outside of the TV world, Effron wrote, directed and produced plays and award-winning short films. 

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