A movie based on our Wednesday breakfasts? When I’d first heard of it in July the thought intrigued me. Predicated on our bet? We swelled with pride!

“He’s making it with equity actors,” Bob cautioned. Still, within hours I’d made the call: “Any room for a non-union guy?”

The screen play’d been written by Jeff. A professional, he is — an acTOR, as they say: one of those sophisticated gents oft cast in upscale shows. The truth is, he’s a purist: a thespian that reads each script line then wondrously stares to the heavens searching meaning from each line. (Ed. Note 1: There’s a reason these guys are professionals; I not only respect it, but well know my place). (Ed. Note 2: Clowns like me are but “meat and potatoes”…content to do shtick, hoping to entertain, and happy if I can just squirt some seltzer in your face). It’s all good.

I don’t know Jeff well. He seems nice enough. A year ago I’d actually tried out for a show in which he’d been pre-cast as lead. I didn’t get cast. Sitting at auditions it occurred that they were seeking the strata of actor that never perspires. Me? I’m pure energy and … like I said: seltzer. We actually met, though, in the ‘90’s. Bob had brought him on as a guest for our radio show. ‘Don’t recall much of the program really…other than Bob talked, Jeff talked, and between their colloquy I added nonsense for laughs.

“We can put you in as the waiter,” he told me quite graciously in August. (I was thrilled, elated like a Brush kid invited to a dance at U.S.)!

(Ed. Note 3: Twice prior I’d travelled this road. Both times the ventures I’d committed to just never went forward, and, while I hadn’t been emotionally vested, they did disappoint. Reluctant it made me to share this latest episode with my kids. I could well envision Michael’s eye roll and hear too Stacy’s admonition against disappointment. Been there, done that).

Ah, but this deal was real.

Receiving a script via email, invited I was to an after-hours read-thru. “I know you’ve got your other rehearsal that night,” he told me. “It would be great if you could come by when you’re done and meet the cast.”

Filming had then been set for September, but I couldn’t wait. My ass dragging from a rough night in Chardon, I stopped by the set. Fascinated I was, to say the least. These guys were good—characters all. The project excited.

One guy was Bobby; another played Lester. Then there was the guy with no hair. Hello Arthur! And me. Another played me. They even named him Bruce— in the script that is. Not a bad me, I might add.

This must have been a Monday or Tuesday, because I can tell you I bounced into Corky’s that Wednesday…gleeful… waiting to share.

—- And then my phone rang again —-perhaps a week or so later—

“We’re not going to be able to use you. We’re going with a female server.”

(Ed. Note 4: Once again he’d been gracious. It was a valid choice, I knew. And as my father’d have said: the world wasn’t coming to an end).

Life went on. Truth is I’d mentioned the gig to my kids over summer. In the time that had passed they didn’t ask; I didn’t tell.

It was filmed just last Monday–this tale of our friendship. Invited to be extras, our feelings were mixed. Bob was all over it (Go figure), and Les was ambivalent. Kraut and I tend to go with the flow…so … Bobby still being Aleph Gadol …well, we all showed up.

—And for three hours we sat…watching…

Twenty feet away talented strangers were playing us. Twenty feet from them intimate friends, never breaking stride, were laughing, joking, and…. BEING us:

Bobby came toting a garment bag. Three wardrobes had he. He worked the room as I filmed him…and as the hours ticked by and we waited for our one backdrop scene, our end of the room had its own clear rhythm:

First, there was Snyder in perpetual motion. Then:

— Every twenty minutes Lester’d comment: “You do realize he’s never ever been to our breakfast!”

— And every ten minutes Arthur’d grimace asking “How many times are they going to run that line?”

— Then me: Every other minute I was thinking of Kramer. Cosmo Kramer. And I remembered how frustrated he was watching someone play him.

“Why can’t I be Kramer?” he’d asked in May, ‘94. (He was right way back then).

Standing there, eyeing this stranger (talented as he may be) playing me just didn’t feel right. Why can’t I be Bogart? I mean…after all, when you come right down to it, I am me. And I don’t have to act to be so.

(And furthermore, lest anyone forget: I won the bet).

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