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  • Writer's pictureJay Cameron Parker


The parents of the bar mitzvah boy rented the section of the movie studio for the occasion. I don’t know why, other than to maybe amuse themselves, they hired two actors, one to play an annoying party planner constantly getting under everyone’s feet and asking guests inappropriate questions, and a drunk waiter.

One of the studio event planners told me I was the first person that came to mind when considering who would be hired to play the drunk waiter. It wasn’t due to my acting ability. It was more about my well-known romance with alcohol.

I was dressed like the other waitstaff and downplayed the whole thing. I moved about the party quietly. If someone placed their drink down, I grabbed it while their back was turned, downed it, returned the empty glass to the table then asked the guest if they’d like a refill.

Someone usually witnessed my conduct. On several occasions, I’d heard someone whisper, “That waiter is getting hammered!” or something similar. As the evening progressed, more guests caught on to what I was doing. Some told the host who would send them to the fake party planner to complain. The actress would apologize profusely, then ask the guest a never-ending array of personal and inappropriate questions she would need for her report.

I wanted to be an actor at a very young age. It wasn’t fame or money that drew me to the profession, but a desire to be someone else. I’ve never been comfortable in my own skin. Even after years of finding myself, losing, dismantling, and putting myself back together, I’m still unsure who this guy is. Over the years, I’ve taken on personas of people I’ve admired or who’ve had the kind of life I wanted. Still, the relationships I developed became troubled because, no matter how good an actor I was, I couldn’t pull it off 24 and 7.

I’ve discovered that I’m at my best when I stop thinking so much about myself. I don’t always excel at this, and I probably beat myself up too much when I fail. I usually know when I’ve lost focus. I’m back at trying to read my label from inside the jar.

In my new novel, You Gotta Die Sometime, the main character changes his name and takes on a different persona in a desperate attempt to save his family. It causes a domino effect of trouble when he discovers his new life has more problems than the one he left behind. The friendships and relationships he develops along his journey are always strained because there’s a massive part of his past he can’t reveal. He continues to hide something about himself from those closest to him, and his secrets keep him isolated.

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

Sounds solid.

After that party, the drunk waiter ended the evening on the dancefloor with everyone else. He and the party planner were doing the Macarena with the guests. He kept shouting about what a great party it was.

When it was over, I stumbled to my car, got in, and passed out. I awoke a few times to get sick but didn’t come to until late the following morning. The sun was blasting through the windshield. There was a sharp icicle wedged between my eyes and brain. My empty stomach kept trying to jump out of my mouth.

I'm glad I never played that waiter again. He was a bigger drunk than I ever was.

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