Saturday, April 02, 2005

My April Fools Opus

My sister-in-law’s brother recently announced to his family that as soon as he graduates from Central Michigan University, he is planning upon moving to California to become, in his words, “the next Brad Pitt.” My sister-in-law, who has a connection to Jerry “Blackhawk Down” Bruckheimer (but does not actually know him) has been pestered incessantly by her mother to use her contact, which is tenuous at best, to get him some kind of interview or screen test with the producer. Since she does not want to ask her friend (who is Bruckheimer’s cousin) to do this, knowing that her friend and Mr. Bruckeimer probably have to deal with this kind of thing all of the time, she steadfastly refuses and has been getting a lot of grief from her family over her reluctance.

This April Fool’s Day, she decided to get back at them. She devised a plan that required the assistance of an accomplice of the lowest denominator. She needed someone unrepentantly unethical, someone of questionable moral fortitude, someone who could dish out more bullshit than a Texas Longhorn with an extreme case of terminal dysentery. Obviously, I was a natural candidate.

The joke was on her mother, who was apparently the source of most of the pestering. On March 31st, she pretended to acquiesce to her mother’s persistent requests and said that she would call her friend and see if she could somehow get in touch with Mr. Bruckheimer. She then called me and asked if I could call the house the next day and pretend to be a casting agent. I was to tell her that Mr. Bruckheimer urgently needed an up and comer to fill a roll in his next project, a film my sister-in-law wanted to title “Poser” (a subtle hint that this was all a joke). It sounded like a lot of fun, so I took down the required phone numbers, did some research on Mr. Bruckheimer’s accomplishments and started planning how to pull this off.

Now, my sister-in-law’s mother knows who I am and I was sure that she would recognize my voice. In order to disguise it, I decided to adopt a French accent. Since I work for a French company, travel there often for business and have a rudimentary working knowledge of the lingo, this was something I could pull off effortlessly. I also needed a reason to call her instead of him. For this point, I got hold of his cell phone number and switched two of the numbers around as if I had been given a wrong number. Finally, I had to figure out how to make a highly implausible story (I mean, who in their right mind would believe that someone would get a part in a movie without ever auditioning, or for that matter, without even having sent a picture to those making the movie) believable enough to be bought. This was by far the hardest part, since my sister-in-law’s mother is a highly intelligent woman and by no means would I consider her to be easily bamboozled. In order to snow over the implausibility of my story, I decided to act as if I was just as surprised by the way the situation had developed as she was.

On April 1st, I tried several times to get through but each time found the line to be busy. This was probably a good thing, as had I actually got through from my desk at work, someone would surely have blown my cover. I then considered moving to the office’s payphone but then realized that calling from a regular phone probably would have aroused suspicion. After all, everyone in the movie industry uses cell phones, don’t they? I managed to borrow one from a girl that works down the hall from me and, after getting my sister-in-law to get her sister off of the internet, went down to my car to get some lunch while I was doing this dastardly deed. The conversation went, as best as I can remember, something like this:

Mother:
Hello?

Me:
‘Ah-loe. My neme eez Renee Renault ahnd I am zee casteeng assistehnt pour Lionz Gayte Prrodooktyons. I am looking pour Michael…..no, no, I meen Dahveed D______. Ez zees zee raight numberrr?

Mother:
Yes, well no. He is at school right now. Who is this again?

Me:
Renee Renault. I am a casteeng assistehnt pour Lionz Gayte Prrodooktyons. I received a call zees morneeng from Jerry Bruckheimer who zeems to want zees Dahvid D______ to work on zees feelm he eez doing right now in California.

Mother:
(With a hint of suspicion in her voice) Did you try his cell phone?

Me:
Yez, I zhink. I try zees number, (I recite the wrong number back to her) but I get zeess teenage goorl who zays she, “Like soooooo has no idea who I am looking for”.

Mother:
(Her voice starts to quiver a little with excitement) And why are you trying to get in touch with David?
Me:
Zees morneeng I reseeved zees call from Jerry Bruckheimer. Hee tellz me zhat hee haz found zee person for zee feelm “Po-Zhur” he eez now workeeng on. He geeves me Dahveed’s name and heez numbeer, and tellz me to tell heem to move to Caleefornia tomorrow. For me, zhees eez veery, veery strange. Can you answer a question pour moi, pleeze?
Mother:
Y-y-y-yes?

Me:
How in zhee world duz zhees keed know Monsieur Bruckheimer? Zhees eez a small, but important part. Many young actors are fighteeng for eet but Mr. Bruckheimer eez telling me to geeve eet to a keed no one haz ever heard of before.

My sister-in-law’s mother then goes on to explain how her daughter’s old teacher is Jerry Bruckheimer’s cousin and how her daughter went through him to arrange a meeting. After listening to her story, I pretend to be incredibly outraged.

Me:
WHAT!?!? You mean to tell me zhat Mr. Bruckheimer haz never even zeen zhees keed! Zhees eez unbelievable! Zhees “Po-Zur movie eez a HUGE feelm! Eet eez an eemportant feelm! Zhees feelm is zhee Afghanistan version of “Blackhawk Down”! Eet eez a travesty! Eet eez…..
Mother:
Well he’s a very…..

Me:
Pleeze do not eenterupt me. I am happee for your son Madame but you must understand zhat zhees eez a huge reesk. Zhees could be Mr. Bruckheimer’s worst mistake seence “Kangaroo Jack”. Still, what eez done, eez done. I must get hold of your son.

Mother:
Do you have a number that he could call you back at?

Me:
No, I can not geeve my number to actorz I do not know. Eeff I do, I get zheess callz from everyone who theenks zhey can move to California to be zhee next Brad Pitt. (I thought for sure that quoting her son would surely arouse some suspicions in her but her pent up excitement totally drowned out her ability to entertain any notion other than that my call was completely genuine).

Mother:
W-w-well, please call him on his cell phone! His number is XXX-XXX-5665!

Me:
5-6-6-5! Jerry told me eet waz 6-5-5-6! Jerry, Jerry, Jerry! What will I do weez heem? Well, I am pulleeng eento zhee airport now, Madame. I will try to call heem over zhees weekend. I zhank you for your help.

Mother:
You won’t regret this! He’s a very good looking kid! He’s a…He’s a…well, he's a……..(Up until this point, she had done a remarkable job of keeping her composure but I could now see she was coming unglued. Her voice was cracking and she was starting to stammer. I expected that as soon as she hung up the phone, she was going to let out a blood-curdling scream in an octave that could only be matched by the Sesame Street muppet Elmo if only he had suffered an emasculating industrial accident while at the height of a heinous helium bender.)

Me:
Eef you zpeak to heem, tell heem zhat I will call sometime over zhee weekend. Au revoir, Madame.

Mother:
B-b-b-bye!

I then ordered two bacon double cheeseburgers at the Burger King drive-thru and returned to work. As I was eating my lunch, I called my sister-in-law to see if she heard anything but the line was busy. It seemed to remain so for the better part of an hour.

Later I found out that her mother immediately called her brother and recounted the conversation she had just had. She then called her husband, a firefighter, at work and told him what happened. He then told his colleagues, where one of them tried to ease his expectations down a bit by pointing out that it was April Fools Day and that the story sounded an awful lot like a joke. My sister-in-law’s father responded to him by saying that he knew it was not a joke since his wife, “would never ever do something like that to me.” He was right. His wife never would do something like that to him. His daughter on the other hand…………

As “Dahveed’s” mother was calling her sisters, my sister-in-law’s brother called her, just as excited about the turn of events as she was. My sister-in-law, not wanting to direct the joke at him, immediately told him how she had set her mother up and that it was all a prank. He yelled at her and abruptly hung up the phone, completely enraged. Within minutes her mother called her, having just talked to her son, screamed at her as well and also hung up on her. Her father was next and offered her the same treatment. When I finally got through to her, she told me what the aftermath had amounted to and it appeared that pretty much no one in family was speaking to her. I tried to apologize but she shrugged it off, telling me that they would get over it.

I stopped by her house on the way home from work to see if things had gotten any better and found that at that point, things had only gotten worse. She had talked to her aunts and learned that her family was absolutely furious at her. I asked her what we should do now.

“You know,” she said as the gears turned inside her head, “My little sister is getting braces soon and she is completely devastated by it. Do you think you could call back and pretend you’re an orthodontist that has just seen her x-rays and convince them that she needs to have all of her teeth pulled?”

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