Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sex and Consequences Part 2: WTF?!

Editor's Note: Apparently I cannot cut and paste text from Word into this blog. Therefore I will have to re-type this blog that I wrote on Monday night. The things I do for you.

Hey there folks! This post comes to you direct from Au Bon Pain in Port Authority, which, if you've been paying attention, can mean only one thing:

I've officially finished my first big-girl competition in NYC.

It wasn't so bad. I'm pretty proud of myself. There were no unnecessary nerves. I connected to my core and sang for all the reasons I wanted to. I didn't sing so that the people in front of me would like me. I sang for me. There were some pretty big names in there, but I didn't care. My body did betray me with some old bad habits, but I think I accomplished about 75% of what I wanted to.

You know, I'll take that for my first time out!

Since I won't hear back from them begging me to appear for the semifinal round for a few weeks, I'll return to the title of this blog post. Ah, consequences.

I just got off a fresh conversation with my mother-in-law about boundaries. Men used to invade hers all the time. Since she didn't drive, she'd take the bus and routinely wake up being kissed by some random guy. Unbelievable, I know, but true. She mentioned that this happened a lot less often when she wore pants. But something she did sent out signals to men that this kind of action would be okay.

I think I do this same sort of thing. I've already been hit on by the guy where I bought my pizza and the guy cleaning the floor of Au Bon Pain. And yes, I'm wearing a skirt. But these are nothing compared to what went down at the Casino the other day.

Another of our "friend" couples that we see every week was there for the day. Like most of the rest, they're very nice but make me a little uncomfortable. The first time we met them they were there with their Monseigneur (spelling? I don't even know what this title means, but he was an old guy in their church). Ever since, when we see them once a week the guy has us either leave a message for the Monseigneur or talk to him on the phone.

Weird, right? It sort of felt uncomfortable, but I didn't logically see any reason as to why that should be so, so I did it.

So on this particular day, we're handing out these promotion free-spin thingeys (don't ask). I need to get rid of them, so when I see the man half of this couple sitting in one of the bars I sashay over to him to give him the thing. I guess when I did this I separated myself from the pack, and they continued on without me. The man gets up to greet me and grabs my hands.

He says "uno" and kisses me on one cheek.

He says "due" and kisses me on the other cheek.

Then he says "tre" and tries to kiss me on the mouth. He's holding my face in between his hands and actually pulling my face towards his.

At this point in the story everybody asks "what did you do?" Well, I don't really remember what I did. Perhaps I blacked out in horror. But I do know that I got the fuck out of there.

I felt so violated. It was quite disturbing. Why would this man think that this kind of action is okay on any level? Obviously I need to set some boundaries and tweak my character a bit. There will be no more "harmless" kissing on the cheek for either male or female guests. Also, I think AnnaMaria will suddenly acquire a serious, rather large and jealous boyfriend.

Well, I guess it's a learning experience, right? Excuse me while I quietly vomit. And then change into pants.


  1. I feel the urge to comment on this, because it involves something I've been thinking about and struggling with for about half of my lifetime. I'm sure you've come to all these conclusions yourself, but bear with me.

    My personal story: On the one hand, I'm very reticent; I shy away from attention; and I'm extremely uncomfortable with sexual admiration from people other than my boyfriend. On the other hand, I'm a performer, and part of the job description is to be the opposite of most of those things.

    Most of the time, of course, we're performing on a stage with other actors -- we're completely immersed in our roles, and everyone around us is in on it. I assume you wouldn't feel uncomfortable if AnnaMaria was kissing GiorgioFabio in Shakespeare's "AnnaMaria and GiorgioFabio." In that situation, it's easy to do things Emily wouldn't be comfortable with, because you know that everyone understands the difference between Emily and AnnaMaria.

    In your current gig, though, it must be much more difficult to separate the two women. You're improvising, which always sits a little closer to home than using scripted action and dialogue. And you're surrounded by people who are not acting, are not actors, and are not even aware that YOU are acting. If something is real for them, can it be truly unreal for you? And what do you do when it becomes too real (ooo, I sound like a crime drama) and one of those people oversteps your real boundaries?

    Personally, I think it's the other people's faults - no one should kiss or grope or even leer at you without express consent. Most people disagree with me on this, and think implied consent is okay. Some people think no consent is necessary, and can't understand why you'd feel violated, instead of complimented. The problem is, it doesn't really matter, because there's nothing you can do to change how someone else acts.

    And, as I'm sure you've realized, the solutions are:

    1) Separate Emily and AnnaMaria even further, so AnnaMaria can do whatever the heck she wants and Emily still feels safe. Reconcile with this split, knowing that who you are in character is not really Emily. If a man thinks it's okay to snog AnnaMaria, it's not because he thinks Emily is a floozie (and he might not even think AnnaMaria is a floozie -- see previous paragraph).

    2) Give AnnaMaria the same boundaries as Emily, and figure out how to communicate them to clients. This is what you talked about at the end of your post. I don't think AnnaMaria has to stop kissing people on the cheek, but she can certainly object in jovial outrage if someone oversteps etiquette. In fact, people might get uncomfortable if you're too modest, since it's clearly something they don't expect in Vegas. If you become MORE friendly, however, they won't view your forceful maintenance of specific limits as a chastisement. In the words of Tyra Banks, use your feminine wiles to impart your message clearly, while still keeping it light and tension-free (, at about 1:05, I'm such a dork). And, of course, the trick is to come up with ways to spell out your boundaries BEFORE someone comes close to crossing them; the boyfriend idea is a good one, or you can tell people right off the bat that Italians kiss two times, not three. Likewise, if Emily is uncomfortable calling or writing letters to people she barely knows (it's "monsignor", btw), have AnnaMaria kindly tell them she won't be able to.

    3) If all else fails, don't be afraid to break character. I don't think you're "lying" to people, and I don't think they'll see it that way. Some people just don't understand acting, but almost all of them understand jobs. It will be a lesson for them, not a personal betrayal. It might be slightly less magical when they learn Emily is not actually a quaint Italian, but I bet they'll enjoy interacting with AnnaMaria just as much.

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  3. Holy cow, that was long. One more thing.

    AnnaMaria aside, I hope Emily never feels bad because someone is coming on to her. I can guarantee that the "thing you do" to send out signals to men is Be Pretty and Not Be A Jerk. Your mother-in-law's story should be confirmation of that: what kind of signals can someone send out when they're sleeping? People/men are going to make a move on you, regardless of whether they've thought through the likelihood of you reciprocating, because enough people/women enjoy that sort of attention to justify it. And there's nothing wrong with enjoying the compliment, and enjoying the power. It doesn't make you a bad person, and I'm sure you won't let it go to your head too much; and it shouldn't get you into trouble, as long as you're firm about setting boundaries.

    Thus ends my novel. I hope it was not too blathery. Lots of love!

  4. My first IT job was working for Au Bon Pain in South Boston.

    I don't remember making out with anyone, though. Maybe I should have tried harder.

    True story.

  5. Dear Beth: Great insights! Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I definitely agree that it is the fault of the men who think this kind of action is okay in the first place. Thank goodness we live in a post-feminist age!

    Moog: OMG I'm so excited to see you here! You should ALWAYS try harder. Always.