Monday, July 1, 2013

El Lobo Grande y Mal

Dear Friends,

If it's that good old time religion that you seek, look no further than the gospel according to Hard Taco and our newest song, "Put My Hand on Heaven's Plow."

I could probably use a little divine aid in the coming days. Later this month, I'm going to be performing in a stage play for the first time in 20 years. I am proud to report that the Penny Seats theater company has invited me to join the cast of "Little Me."

I will be playing the role of B.A. Baracus.

When this opportunity fell in my lap, my first instinct was to stand up and wipe it off as quickly as possible. But my wife persuaded me to defer judgment and let it mellow in my lap for a few days, maybe let it seep into my pants a little. And boy, did it seep. Now, I couldn't be more excited about it!

Unfortunately, my character's name is not actually B.A. Baracus, but I swear on a pile of free religious pamphlets that you won't know the difference when you see the show. Before each rehearsal, while the rest of the cast sings, "Druggie baby fuzzy bunkers" in all major keys, I glower at the mirror in the changing room and repeat the phrase, "I ain't gettin' on no plane, Hannibal!" This week, I must have made some progress, because I sort of scared myself. Holy Snakes! That guy in the mirror will never consent to riding on an airplane, especially not with that crazy Murdock at the controls.

I am the least experienced actor in the troupe, and oh yes, it is obvious. I don't instinctively know, for instance, where the hell to put my hands. Should I just scratch my face a lot? Constant up and down face-scratching with both hands seems like a natural thing that real people might do.  Or do tough guys scratch their faces horizontally? When I walk, should I lead with my chest or with my groin? When other characters are talking, should I stare at their lips and nod or scrunch my eyes closed and hum until they shut up?

I was in a handful of high school plays, but I can't really build on those experiences, because I never got any tough guy roles.  As a sophomore with an angelically high voice, I was cast in a Molière play as an androgynous cook with a bowl cut wig. My character was in two scenes, both of which ended with me squealing while the master of house beat me with a riding crop. It must have been very funny for the 17th century French nobility in the audience, but it was a very confusing time in my life.

So to channel my inner Mr. T, I have to go back even further, to my very first public performance. My mom recently reminded me that I had played the Big Bad Wolf in a 7th grade Spanish class production of Carperucita Roja.  I still remember every line of the scene (although it may not make sense because my browser doesn't support upside down exclamation points.)

Lobo: Ja! Ja! Ja! Buenos tardes, Abuela!
          (Ha! Ha! Ha! Good afternoon, grandma!)

Abuela: Ai! Un lobo grande! y también mal!
             (Hey there! A big and also bad lobo!)

Lobo: Gua gua gua!
          (Nom nom nom!)

Roja: O Abuela! Hola! Tengo comida en mi cesta! Chili con queso!
         (Oh Grandma! Hello! I have food in my basket! Chili with queso!)

Lobo: Salsa fresca?
         (Fresh salsa?)

Roja: Salsa verde!
          (Verde sauce!)

Lobo: Pollo asado?
         (Acid chicken?)

Roja: Huevos rancheros!
         (Raunchy eggs!)

Lobo: Carne asado!
          (Barbecued carnies!)

Roja: Dulce de leche
         (Candy de milk!)

Lobo: Gua gua gua!
           (Verde sauce!)

Anyway, if I can pull off el lobo mal y también grande, I should be able play a hard-bitten military man who scratches his face horizontally. I just feel bad because I will have to miss two performances of "Little Me" for a work thing. The understudy is a very good actor, but I am openly worried about what is going to happen while I am gone. What if the fools go unpitied?

With warmest regards,