Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 40

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There are some days when I’m doing something mundane like driving up Vine Street to go back to Home Depot because the tool I got to fix the thing I broke, broke another thing, or if I’m going to the Coffee Bean on Larchmont where everybody knows my name and they’re always glad I came, and I look up and see the Hollywood sign and realize, “holy crap, I live in Hollywood, the most glamorous city in the world!”  Today was one of those legendary Hollywood days.

I started my day with a workout at my celebrity gym where it’s not uncommon to see celebrities like Chris Pines of “Star Trek”and, um, “Runaway Locomotive” working out (he’s very skinny in person), alongside Zoe Saldana of Avatar (she’s even skinnier).  My trainer (not a celebrity) is very into something called “Crossfit Training” which to the best of my knowledge is a group of random, nearly impossible exercises that are combined together and named after a person who died tragically young which is supposed to inspire you, I guess, to either be glad you’re not dead, or just sad.  In the past I’ve conquered Tabitha and Cindy (not as easy as you might think based on their names) and today I took on Daniel.  Judging by the workout, Daniel died somewhere in the course of doing 100 pull-ups, 1200 meters of running and pressing 95 pounds 42 times from a squat all the way over his head.

After polishing off Daniel, I took the dogs on their morning choke on a non-celebrity hike (Bronson Canyon) versus the celebrity hike (Runyan Canyon) only to have an A-list celebrity sighting of… Vince Vaughn!  As I was coming down the hill and Vince was puffing up the hill we made eye-contact and I nodded to him and said, “hey”, as in “you’re a celebrity and I’m also in the biz”, and he nodded back and said “Hey”, as in, “I’m definitely a celebrity and you’re built like a writer so maybe I know you.”  In my career, of course, I have met lots of celebrities (I’m not counting this exchange with Vince Vaughn as one of them), and I’ve always found that the best way to deal with them is the same way you would if encountering a wild animal, try to seem bigger than you are.  I remember at the premier party of “Friends” standing next to Michael Keaton who was Courtney Cox’s boyfriend at the time.  Now, of course, Michael Keaton was a giant movie star and one of my comic idols from his work in “Night Shift”, so naturally this was the conversation that took place when I met him: Me: “Hey, I’m Jeff”.  Michael Keaton:  “Hi, Michael.” Me: “I’m sorry, what did you say your name was?”  Michael Keaton: “Michael.”  It’s one of my favorite celebrity encounters.  That and the time that I was driving onto the lot at CBS Radford and saw two guys talking to each other whom I knew from somewhere but couldn’t quite place where.  I drove up to them, rolled down my window and said, “Hey”.  Jerry Seinfeld and Garry Shandling responded in unison, “Hey.”  Even back then I knew the lingo.

After my celebrity workout followed by my celebrity hike it was time to take in the theater, specifically, watch my daughter perform as Rapunzel in the Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts production of “Into the Woods.”

NOTE:  I’m going to interrupt this entry to recognize a pattern that many of my posts follow, specifically when it comes to family.  I start off with a couple of light, funny stories then segue into something way too revealing and heartbreaking.  That’s all, just an observation.  Now where was I?

Tonight was my daughter’s 15th performance at YADA (for a total of $9,000 but who’s counting?)  As I mentioned before, my daughter is shy and has some anxiety stuff going on that’s manifested itself over the last year or two.  Because of this, it is shocking to me that one of her favorite activities in the world is to perform in this theater company for kids.  It also is one of the most excruciating things for me to witness, seeing my little shy angel up there, seemingly lost on stage.  I want to know what she’s feeling, see what she’s seeing and for one moment inhabit her little body and break through whatever is holding her back and belt out the loudest note that’s ever been performed on that over-priced, under-decorated stage.  Just so I could see what she feels like up there and she could see what it feels like to be uninhibited.  But that’s not how it works.  Instead, I sit there looking nervous, her anxiety feeding my anxiety, creating a vicious circuit that could no doubt power Los Angeles for two hours if it could be harnessed.  At one of my least-restrained performances as an audient I ruined the video recording of the show by constantly urging her on by saying, “LOUDER!”  and “Come on, Sasha!”  What makes it even harder for me is when I hear the crackly-voiced, pitchy kids belting out their off-key ballads with bulletproof confidence, knowing that my daughter has been diagnosed by two separate music teachers as having perfect pitch.  Perfect.  My girl’s voice is perfect.  So perfect that she keeps it inside.

Now, before you judge me as being a “Stage Dad” you should know that I am firmly against children becoming actors.  I’ve worked with way too many of them and I’ve never seen it turn out well.  In fact, when Sasha was born her birth announcement was a picture of her sleeping with the phrase, “Please don’t be an actress” printed several times across the card.  I don’t want her to be an actress, but I want her to be comfortable.  And moreover, I want to be comfortable with her.  She must enjoy being up there on stage– for the life of me I can’t imagine why– and that should be enough for me.  But instead I grind my teeth and feel hurt for her and frustrated for her and anticipate all of the conversations with the other parents after the show “Wow, your daughter was… adorable” they would say in my head and I would respond, “You should hear her at home.  She’s perfect!  I have two references!  Your kid was tone deaf!”  If only I could bottle up that same confidence that she has when belting out songs in the shower or in the back of the car and let her even lip synch to her own voice…  More important than everyone else seeing who she can be, I want my little girl to see who she really is.

But then a rational voice comes to me… in the form of a text from my wife who had warned me after seeing the first performance that this was not going to be my daughter’s coming out performance.  My wife reminded me that we are there to support our daughter doing something that she loves, this is about her, not us, and we love her unconditionally (which is all true).  I then asked my wife if I should tell her that I couldn’t hear any of her lines and my wife said, “no” because my wife is the smart one.  “Just love her.” OK, that makes sense.  And then the show ended, and my little girl came out and I gave her a giant hug and kissed her head and told her I loved her.  And she said, “Hey, Daddy”.  And I couldn’t resist and said, “I couldn’t really hear you up there”,  when all I should have said was, “Hey.”


Written by 100daysoff

March 24, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Your best yet.


    March 25, 2011 at 8:38 am

  2. You just made a lonely, fat tear run down my face.


    March 25, 2011 at 3:12 pm

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