Updated: Oct 17, 2019
- The Kind Of Bitch You Never Want To Be -
I was twenty-two, pulling into a parking space for another day of work when I got a call from my mother.
Mom: (somber sounding) Where are you?
Rachel: (detecting her tone) I just got to set, what’s wrong?
Mom: K… call me when you finish for the day.
Rachel: No, I hate when you do this. Just tell me now.
Mom: … your cousin Chris died.
Rachel: (as if his age makes it’s impossible) … How? He’s 27.
Mom: He crashed into a tree on his way home last night.
Back then, the last time someone in our family had passed away was when I was young enough to find all the comfort and solace I needed in a single Happy Meal. Suffice it to say, it would take a lot more than Ronald McDonald’s shoulder to cry on now that I was a young adult.
As you might imagine, I did not take this news well. Inexperienced when it came to death, let alone an unexpected one, I quickly found myself deep in the throes of depression, trying to wrap my head around what had happened and make sense of how it fit in with everything I’d been taught to believe about religion, faith, and hope. At work, I walked around like a zombie with my headphones on, blaring “My Immortal” and other equally uplifting songs. I didn’t speak unless I had to say my lines, or if I felt the need to offer bleak commentary on people’s glass half full perspectives.
Guy: (jovial, talking to a friend) Hey man, that’s what life’s all about!
Rachel: Is it? Or are we all just here until we’ve endured enough emotional pain to make it to the next place?
It wasn’t that I wanted everyone to share my new belief that Earth might really be the Catholic definition of purgatory realized, nor was it a case of misery loving company; in fact, just the opposite - I didn’t want anyone to be caught off guard the way I had. I had no idea how to process what happened. No idea how to appropriately respond or how to harness all my emotions, let alone in a professional environment, especially when that profession centers around evoking emotion - and in less than two takes.
People at work knew what I was going through though, and they did their best to comfort and console me any way they could. Well, most of them did anyway.
It was 5:45am when I walked on set and into the make up department, where Zelda, my make up artist, greeted me with a warm smile, excited to see I was finally wearing one of my own again. Since Chris’ passing, it was the first time I’d been able to muster so much as a smirk and I was finally starting to see the light. Just, not the same light he had.
I climbed up onto Zelda’s dentist-like chair and she got to work covering my dark circles and post pubescent acne. We starting chatting, catching each other up on our weekends, and as she told me about the newest addition to her farm, another actress entered the room. The Diva, as I’ll refer to her, was notoriously temperamental and moody, so when it came to exchanging hellos, most of us waited for her to engage. And on this particular morning, she breezed right past us in silence, taking a seat at the far end of the room in another make up chair.
Zelda leaned in toward me with the foundation sponge in hand.
Zelda: (a hushed whisper, playfully sing songing) ”Jekyll and Hyde.”
With the message clear and the precedent set, Zelda and I pretended The Diva was invisible, carrying on with our conversation until we were abruptly interrupted by the some huffing and puffing a few minutes later.
Diva: (exasperated, impatient) “Zelda, where’s Larry?”
Zelda: (pleasant and calm) “Oh, he called about ten minutes ago to say he was running ten minutes late. He should be here any minute.”
Diva: (threatening) Well, let’s hope so for his sake.”
Zelda turned to face me once again, contorting her face into another playfully annoyed expression before picking up our conversation where it had been cut off. She said something extremely funny and we both exploded into laughter. For the life of me, I wish I could remember what it was, but as the saying goes, I only remember how I was made to feel.
Diva: “My God, are you never quiet?!” You never stop talking! It’s 6 am! No one wants to hear your voice so much this early in the morning. I’m going to my dressing room. Zelda, have Larry call me if he decides he’s ready to work at all today.”
Zelda: (sweet as pie) “Okay…”
Though we were all too familiar with The Diva’s inexplicable outbursts by now, there was something about this particular tantrum that prevented me from handling it as passively as I had all the rest. Perhaps it was the exposed nerve I’d been fashioning ever since Chris’ accident.
As I mentioned, what I had recently gone through was no secret to anyone on set - including The Diva. Everyone knew the details surrounding my cousin’s death: how young he’d been at twenty-seven, how he’d been a twin brother, how he’d lost control of his car going around a dark corner, dying instantly on impact after wrapping his car around a tree, and how death itself was new territory for me.
Even if I had been overly chipper walking into the make up department that morning, whether in an effort to compensate for how much of a Debbie Downer I’d been or not, I couldn’t discount all the times over the last month I’d come in wanting nothing more than sensitivity to my emotional state, and how completely careless, if not downright vindictive the Diva had been the entire time.
She’d come into set annoyingly upbeat, wearing a gigantic smile on her face, and almost antagonistically, would ask me how I was doing. I did my best not to take it personally though; rather, chalking it up to whatever behavioral disorder I suspect she has. Plus, I knew it was unfair to ask and unrealistic to expect anyone to alter their behavior because of my own. It seemed The Diva however, believed quite the opposite. Well, so long as it was convenient for her anyway, and almost always did she expect us to make her beliefs our collective reality.
Larry: Oh my God, oh my God, hi. Hi. I’m so sorry I’m late. Where is she at?
Zelda: Dressing room.
Larry Is she mad?
Zelda: Oh, yeah. She snapped at us for being too loud.
Rachel: Well, she snapped at me for being too loud. Yet, when she’s the upbeat chatty we one we all just have to sit here with our mouths shut and deal with it.
Zelda: (under her breathe, warning) Shhh.
It was Zelda’s way of warning me to protect myself around Larry, who acted just as much as the Diva’s minion as her hair stylist. But I was too fueled by hypocrisy and injustice to think of the ramifications expressing my opinion in his presence might bring. Within seconds of the words leaving my mouth, he hung up the telephone on the wall meant to summon actors and hurried out the room.
Zelda: Shit. He’s running to tell her.
Rachel: I don’t care.
Zelda: You should. If she finds out you said something about her she doesn’t like - watch out.
Rachel: This is ridiculous! Why do we have to deal with all her moods when she can’t deals with ours? I’m so sick of walking around on eggshells all the time.
A few moments later, Larry returned donning heavy side eye. He tossed his hair to the side in a weak attempt to disguise the fact he was really looking me up and down. With his chin raised, eyebrows high, and lips pursed, it was as if he were trying to say, “You’re in trouble now!” In retrospect, the image was quite ridiculous, but back then I hadn’t yet seen #Tootsie or #SoapDish, so the humor was completely lost on me.
With my own hair stylist also late on account of traffic, I hopped off Zelda’s chair once she was done and headed to my dressing room. That’s when, from out of no where, the Diva emerged from her hiding place, cutting me off at the pass to confront me.
Diva: “Is there something you’d like to say to me?”
Her arms were crossed in front of her, her head tilted to the side and brow furrowed, as she watched my every move like an insect. It isn’t lost on me her disposition was merely an intimidation tactic meant to dissuade me from confronting her, but it was back then.
The only thing that wasn’t lost on me was the opportunity I suddenly felt I had to talk openly about the effects her actions had on others. I was still feeling the aftermath of the Grim Reaper’s rape and thought if she knew my feelings had been hurt, perhaps some empathy might cause her to soften a bit. After all, my therapist always says that unless someone is an outright monster, clear communication and raw vulnerability are the most effective way to appeal to anyone. So, I tried.
Rachel: “Actually, yes… I just don’t think it’s fair for you to expect us to alter our behavior to accommodate whatever mood you’re in - especially when you never seem too concerned with doing that for us.”
Her eyebrows raised, almost as if she were instantly disarmed by someone having the audacity to talk back to her. I gave her a moment to respond, but it seemed I’d rendered her speechless. I continued then to appeal to her, hoping she’d come even further around than it seemed she already had.
Rachel: “I mean, this is the first time in four weeks I’ve come to work in a positive mood since my cousin died and-”
Diva: “Oh, get over it! We all have people who die.”
Or, maybe she was an outright monster.
The moment hung in the air as if suspended in time. “Get over it?” I was astonished someone could say something so cruel, cold, and heartless. Her face stared back at me without any flash of self awareness or regret I’d hoped might register with her once she heard herself say it out loud, but it never did.
Once the rumbling sound of impending tears flooded my eardrums, I pushed past her, desperate to escape before a single tear could fall in her presence.
#bitch #bitches #howbitchesaremade #HBAM #HBAMpodcast #podcast #fiercebitch #badassbitch #bossbitchn #empoweredbitch #powerbitch #female #feminist #feminism #empower #empowerment #thesubtleartofnotgivingafuck
Credits: Rachel Melvin (Rachel), Joyce Melvin (Mom), Mark Hapka (Guy), Nicole Montez (Zelda), Molly Burnett (The Diva), James LaGrappe (Larry)
- References -
THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A FUCK
by: Mark Manson