I auditioned for “The Odd Couple” in March. The theater’s a trek from my home, but I don’t remember EVER wanting a role more.  The thought of doing that show on that stage!  In my heart, I belonged in the card game.  

The tryout went well. Oh, there were the “usual suspects” —, the cadre of high-profile actors reknown through the region, and others, a half rung below…like me.

Sunday morning, 6:30 AM

I woke for the third time, not ready to rise. Mind on a hamster wheel, fumbling with the remote control, I played out scenarios. Even in the dark of a sleeping bedroom, I knew that this would be the day, that these would be the 24 hours. I was groggy, excited, attuned, pessimistic, and yes, hopeful.
So the replay began:

Gee, when I tried out, the director knew me by name. A good sign I thought—until recalling shows I did with her Mom in the ‘90’s. So it probably meant nothing.

I thought about the “call-backs”, which went down last Wednesday. Yeah, I’d made it that far, but…

They’d been set for 6:30, and in the two-plus week interval, I had studied the script. (Not the whole script, of course. Just Murray The Cop—the role I so wanted.) Don’t get me wrong, I’d take any part, and I’d said so on the questionnaire. But the part of Murray? That was me! No acting required—I’d shuffled those cards—it was right in my wheelhouse.

And my mind kept rattling.

In anticipation Wednesday, I’d left two hours early, just in case there was “rush hour”…in Madison…50 miles away. And when the traffic did snarl, for a moment, I’d hopped off the freeway, opting to dreidle 25 miles on Route 84…from Willoughby, through Mentor and Kirtland Hills, through the township to Madison. (I don’t want to say it was rural or anything, but I may have counted 31 churches on the one lonesome highway).

I recalled too how I’d taken the exact parking spot from the first tryouts (to regenerate karma). How that night I’d felt flat— not that I wasn’t “on” so much as that it smelled like a courtesy call-back—for whatever reason. “Bye the end of the weekend”, she said we’d hear, and “To check our spam”.
The end of the weekend is today, I well knew. Mired in thoughts of how I’d exited Wednesday without any sense of optimism, I slept some more.


Sunday morning, 9:30 AM

Opening eyes to a sleeping Carrie, I ambled downstairs.

No missed calls. No new emails. No spam. It did occur to me though she may be in church, or that her staff might think I was—that for that matter nothing might happen ‘til noon.

It’s funny where your mind goes. As a ten-year old on Draft Day for the South Euclid Little League, I studied the phone. EV2-5088 was our number and awaiting a ring, I drove parents crazy. That Sunday, pre-call waiting, was so unbearable that even my father had to get me out of the house. It would be the only time I’d ever go bowling at the Mayfield Lanes. (I went with Bobby). My Dad drove both ways, picking up at Pap ‘N Jay’s Pizza as we rolled. (It was a wonderful tonic—that bowling, with two happy endings. As Bobby rolled strikes and me perhaps spares, Mr. Wendel called my home and Mr. Scott called his. We were White Sox and Tigers…and happy.

Sunday morning, 10:30 AM.

CJ awake, breakfast concluded, she walked Rusty and me? I waited.

A text message came in— from one of the actors—it was Alan. He’d been cast as Vinnie, he noted—yesterday.

“Are you f’ing kidding me?” I thought. “I’m better than him! Are you f’ing kidding me?” Even alone, I know it didn’t matter…even IF I WAS right. Even alone though, I knew what to do. Darting upstairs I called him, congratulating. ‘Twas the right thing to do, I sensed as indeed, the joy in his voice trumped the sad in my heart.

“I’ll be in the audience,” said I as we bid our adieus. (My heart was still telling me that fat lady hadn’t sung but my head knew full well she was clearing her throat).

And my wait continued. Perhaps all the parts weren’t confirmed? Perhaps they hadn’t called because they were waiting to hear from others? I couldn’t care less if I was second choice…or third. It was pushing high noon.

Sunday afternoon 12:20 PM (or so)

The world refused to just wait. Carrie went to Heinen’s without me and I still had to call Aunt Helen about dinner and there was work I could do, but I didn’t.

Until 12:35

That’s when the email came—polite and pointed—that they were going “in a different direction.”

—And I winced and wrote back, with a “thanks for the opportunity”…and that “I’d be in the audience”…(which I will). Me too—I can be polite and pointed—and meant. These were good people, I knew, making valid choices.

I can’t always get what I want.

Fifty years later the bowling alley’s gone. And Pap ‘N Jays is gone. And Mr. Wendell and Mr. Scott are gone. And Mr. Snyder. And Al Bogart? His words echo though—my father’s.

“If this is the worst thing to happen to you,” he would say, “You’re a lucky man.”

He was wise then as he is now.  The players may change, but the game goes on.



  1. Tuffy says:

    Bruce, as you know, I am relatively new to the concept of blogs as a method of communication. Some might even say I was not the best communicator. But I do want to know a couple things:

    1) you are an excellent writer. I always knew you were a good speaker. Quick on your seat (get it?). But you are an excellent writer as well.

    2) you are missing the point about this whole process of auditioning and obtaining theatrical roles. It is NOT about you, Bruce.

    Max, Marv, your dad, Pappy, your Grandpa Irv (by the way, there is a man who was really misunderstood. Even your Dad would agree with that,) Uncles Ben, Phil, and Irv, and I all agree that you are, by far, the best for this role. Hands-down. (Get the thematic pun?)

    But this is not about you. It is about all the other people who wanted that role. They can all deal with them not getting “THEIR” role, because of the example that you have just set for them. You are a role model whether you get the part or you do not. “Role” is a very powerful word. In this case it was obvious you should have gotten the role in the play. Everyone knows that. But, the role that you are playing now is the you are dealing with to your non-theatrical acquaintances. And, YOU SHOULD KNOW that you have just been placed as the odds on favorite to with this year’s “Yes, it is so” award from the real Sam Sharp.

    You are a good man.

    Sorry to be so lengthy. (I never used to have that problem. Rim-shot Halber.)

    So hang in there.

    “You can’t always get what you want.”
    “But you get what you need.”

Leave a Reply