Ang in a Basement.

Once upon a time I signed up on a freelance artist website called GigSalad. GigSalad works like a reverse Craigslist where potential clients send offers to be accepted or rejected at your discretion. It’s a solid system if you’re someone with excellent discretion.

I would occasionally receive leads on GigSalad, but none of them worked out until November 3, 2017.

The event was described as a “birthday party” in New Jersey during which the honoree wanted to film a small kickline of dancers for a video. I responded with my quote and was surprised when my price was accepted. I ended up in email communication with a woman named Olga, who identified herself as the nurse.

Ok; so this must be like a super rich house-ridden man who wants the party brought to him. That’s sweet.

Mark, the honoree, contacted GigSalad to get my phone number. When we finally connected I was surprised both at what a lively conversationalist Mark seemed to be and what a high-pitched voice he had.

He asked me to bring a couple other dancers with me, so I sheepishly approached two of my friends and asked if they wanted to come do whatever this was going to be with me. They both said yes. Sweet, beloved fools.

In our email communication, Olga asked if we could bring leotards and sneakers to wear. It was odd to me that she specified “no tights.”

Cool cool cool, but absolutely not. I love bare legs as much as the next guy, but no one is doing a kickline SANS TIGHTS in front of a camera on my watch. That’s how I end up as a corpse on a segment of “60 Minutes.”

I told the girls to bring tan tights and character heels. We were going to be like the Rockettes … if there were only three of them and they made house calls.

Mark and Olga let me pick the time of day for the shoot, so I picked 9:30am. I figured the odds of them murdering us were exponentially lower if we went to their house in the morning. People always get murdered at night. All the bad stories on the news always start with, “Last night…” It’s never, “He killed them at daybreak.” When I lived in Jackson, Mississippi, people always got shot at night. I didn’t have a gun, but I did get in the habit of carrying a pair of Self-Defense Scissors in the pocket of my sweatpants if I ever left the house after dark.

We took an Uber to Mark’s house from the train, and as we entered his neighborhood I saw lots of big, beautiful, carefully manicured houses.

Whew. I knew it. This is going to be fine.

And then the Uber driver started driving around in circles because he couldn’t find the correct house number. He kept pausing in front a small, dark brown, fenced-in, overgrown-with-bushes 1970’s crime scene.

“I think this is you guys.”

Noooooooo. What? Why!? Of course it is. Alright Ang. Stay positive for the sake of the kids. But also, be responsible. If they die this morning it is one hundred percent your fault.

So I casually told the girls I had no problem walking out if this turned out to be some sort of unsavory situation. Mark had told us to meet him at the back door “because of my mom,” so we walked through the large wooden gate and knocked on the back door. As I walked through the gate I started to doubt the validity of this whole situation. I don’t know a ton of stories that begin: “He told me to meet him at the back door because of his mom, and the rest of the day was totally normal.”

I knocked on the back door with a large amount of pretend confidence. The man who opened the door had shoulder-length white hair that was somehow simultaneously frizzy and stringy; he was missing some teeth; and he was wearing what my mom calls “birth control glasses.” You know, the ones that seem to be two inches thick.

This is how I die.

“Hi, I’m Mark! Thank you so so much for coming! Olga, come down here!”

This was a split-level house and upon looking up I could see the silhouette of an ancient woman sitting in a chair. Olga had just placed a tray of food in front of her before she walked down the stairs to shake our hands. She extended her right hand to me, still wearing one latex glove.

OMG NO THIS IS HOW I DIE!!

Time stood still as the reasons why someone wears ONE latex glove flashed through my mind. I had a silent meltdown.

WHY ISN’T SHE TAKING OFF THE GLOVE?

I shook her hand and vowed to boil mine as soon as possible.

Mark: “Here, follow me down to the basement!”

DAMMIT ANG.

cbyji-i6ybqFOR SURE this is the kind of basement people die in.

Mark and Olga went back upstairs to let us get changed, and as I rummaged through my backpack I realized I left my Self-Defense Scissors at home.

Stay calm, Ang. We can improvise.

So I uncapped three pens and laid them ink-side-out on the piano, and nonchalantly said, “Hey guys if stuff starts to go down, grab a pen.”

Olga came down to check on us but freaked out when she saw our tan tights. “Oh no, no tights. We talked about this. Our agreement was no tights.”

Uh-huh but like FOR SURE we are wearing tights. Nobody’s interested in Cellulite: Up Close and Personal.

After quite a bit of back and forth, Mark came downstairs in basketball shorts ready to join us in the kickline and I began to understand the situation.

He didn’t want us wearing tights because he isn’t wearing tights and he wants us to look uniform.

Shame crept over me.

Way to be judgemental, Ang. This sweet old man is so excited for this little kickline, and here you are freaking out and laying Weapon Pens on his piano.

I’m not gonna lie to you; even with my enlightened eyes and softened heart, my soul cringed doing eye-high kicks in a leotard and no tights in this old man’s basement. I smiled out at the audience of wood paneling with my single remaining shred of dignity.

Take comfort, Ang. This has got to be the bottom of the barrel. Breathe and soak it in. Maybe Chita Rivera also danced in a stranger’s basement before she made it big. Yes, someday, when you’re interviewing on The Tonight Show, this will make an adorably relatable anecdote.

Ang and Bagel 2: 1989

Many moons passed between my first and second Coffee Meets Bagel dates. I chatted with a couple guys on the app, but we never met in person even though we exchanged numbers. This is noteworthy only because I made a big issue of giving out my number. Christina finally persuaded me it’s not a moral death to give your number to a guy who implied he wants to go out but hasn’t explicitly asked for your number. I think her exact words were, “I hear what you’re saying, but if you play this the way you want to play it you are never going to go out with anyone.”

Yeah that about sums it up, so let’s just cut our losses and quit this crap.

But I’m not a quitter.

Which is why I went out with Bagel 2. B2 is a pale guy who works for a major comedy network in post-production. Forget a date; this was a job interview for a comedy show!

Even though he works in post-production he probably KNOWS someone in casting.

It’s hard to prepare to be funny, so before our date I went to the gym because working out somehow adds instant volume to my hair, and I feel funnier when my hair looks like I stuck my finger in an electrical outlet.

We met at a coffee shop, and the first thing I noticed about B2 on that lovely October afternoon was his comb over.

Ok. Bold artistic choice. It’s fine. Omg are those grey hairs in his beard? Wait, how old am I? I mean I have a couple grey hairs too, but they’re way wilder than my brown hairs which means I’m on my way to a gigantic snow-fro which is the cutest thing I’ve ever imagined, and I’m not sorry about it. UGH, Ang, you horrible monster!! Stop being so snooty and judgemental! In five years you will probably have no choice but to wear pants because your butt and legs will be so saggy you’ll need pants to act like a sausage casing and keep it from dragging behind you on the ground. So sit down, and be grateful.

The date went fairly well. He was a good conversationalist and never asked me about my sexual history. This was significant only because one hundred percent of my previous dating experiences with Coffee Meets Bagel had revolved around the subject of my sexual history. And by that I mean I had only been on one other online date, and he interrogated me about being a virgin.

B2 told me he left his first post-college job because it didn’t pay enough. His weekly salary at that point was the same as my current monthly rent. He said something like, “I mean, I can’t live off of $$$ a week.”

Are you serious? I could do SO much living off $$$ a week and would be able to buy all my groceries at Whole Foods.

We talked about our favorite books, and then he asked me about my music preferences.

Excellent question!

I love talking about music even though there’s so much about it I don’t know.

Ang, excitedly: “Well, I’m a dancer, so I love music in general, although I’m not into Hard Rock/Screamo, and I have like a five minute max on Reggae. Specifically though, I enjoy Vitamin String Quartet, Mumford and Sons, jazzy classics, of course, like The Rat Pack. I like classical music with lots of strings, The Piano Guys, Justin Timberlake, Big Band Jazz, Chris Brown, lots of Broadway stuff, and Missy Elliott. I try to pretend like I don’t listen to Top 40 but I do … Justin Bieber has really turned it around with his new album, and full-disclosure I know all the words to a couple Nicki Minaj songs. What about you? What kind of music are you into?”

B2: “Well, right now I’m pretty into Taylor Swift.”

!?!?

Don’t get me wrong, I think TSwift is fine. She has been in the industry for years and still not written a song about butts. In general she seems pretty grounded with a good work ethic and all things considered she’s a good role model for her younger fan base.

But in the span of MUSIC, which is God’s gift to the eyes, ears, and body … like, you can pick ANY music … and you’re gonna start the list with Taylor Swift? Love-sick-it-makes-me-sick Taylor Swift?

Ang, hanging on by a thread: “Ok, and … ?”

B2, confidently: “And … her new album ‘1989’ is just really great.”

We enjoyed a mutual parting of ways for what I assumed would be forever, but New York City is a small town.

About a year later Christina came home from church one Sunday and told me she had met B2.

This town is too small.

And then B2’s roommate became obsessed with playing matchmaker between B2 and Christina. Christina wasn’t interested, but even though she’s a grown woman capable of defending herself I couldn’t help feeling angsty and melodramatic.

I knew he was trouble when he walked in … ‘cause now we’ve got bad blood … I’ll just shake it off, shake it off … because we are never ever getting [back?] together; like ever.

Omg! I think I understand Taylor Swift.

 

 

Ang faces Bagel 6.

Brief recap: my sister and I both signed up on the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel and agreed to stay on until we had been out with five different guys. She went out with five guys in ten days. It took me four months.

My experiences were painstakingly miserable at best. Sure, the pain was largely self-inflicted, but that didn’t stop me from feeling like an Olympic champion as soon as I got home from my date with B5. I supposed myself to be the dating equivalent of Michael Phelps.

You know what? I think I’m AMAZING at dating.

So maybe I’ll just stay on Coffee Meets Bagel a little longer, and I’ll date all of New York because I’m such a strong woman, and I’m so good at it.

I even had a dream my supervisor from a previous job texted me to tell me he had heard about my dating skills and was proud of me. Yikes.

The completion of my five dates also meant it was time to go public with the material, and as I prepped to release the story of my date with B1 to Facebook my sister/editor/manager, Christina, recommended I tag her in the post so her friends would be able to read it, thereby expanding my audience. I’m pretty terrible with technology and instead of selecting the “Friends of Friends” privacy setting, I selected “Public” and literally thought to myself, “What could possibly go wrong?”

The night after I posted about B1, I checked out my Coffee Meets Bagel profile just to see what was happening.  

Wow eleven message notifications? From one guy? I wonder what that’s about.

The messages said he had found me “with astonishing ease” on Facebook, but I couldn’t remember why that should have worried me.

B6: “Obviously the right thing to do is pretend I didn’t look you up on FB. But I’m coming clean because I read your Coffee Meets Bagel post and have some natural concerns.”

I felt like I was being consumed by fire from inside my stomach and momentarily wished for the subway platform to cave beneath my feet and swallow me whole.

OH, $&?@!! I said a LOT of things in that story. Kissing the ugliest guy I’ve ever seen … virginity club … only joining Coffee Meets Bagel as a sourcing initiative like a monster …

B6: “Most fundamentally, there’s the “who’s” / “whose” typo. I know it’s petty, but this annoys me.”

Wait, those are the EXACT words I used when describing how I felt about B1’s lack of entire words in his text messages. Is this bloke using my own joke against me? Who does he think he is? I mean, well-played. I respect the game but HOW DARE HE.

B6: “But also (hypothetically), if a guy were to ask you for a drink, would he be the protagonist of your next post?”

No I am the protagonist! No matter what happens I am always the protagonist!

B6: “I guess I’m fine with that, as long as you alter a few details for the sake of anonymity – maybe you can say I paid the check. That kind of thing.”

I attempted to reply nonchalantly.

Ang: “So, I’m horrified.”

Much to my surprise, B6 kept the conversation going. He apologized for snooping on me and admitted he enjoyed reading the story of my date with B1.

Yeah, how dare you read a PUBLIC POST on Facebook. *eyeroll* That’s on me for sure. But also, now you know I’m crazy so that’s one less awkward confession for me to try to disguise as a fun fact. You’re welcome.

I changed the privacy setting on my Facebook post IMMEDIATELY and continued chatting with B6 via the dating app. I felt a little guilty about laughing out loud at the messages I received from this stranger, but I couldn’t help it. He was funny!

You know what? Maybe I do wanna meet this guy. No big deal right? I’m just casually obsessed with how funny he is. And funny people should be friends with each other, if nothing else.

For the first time since joining Coffee Meets Bagel I began to bank on a legitimate date.

But suddenly his funny banter stopped and B6 sent me a message saying a friend of his wanted to set him up with a girl from church. He felt he should give Unknown Church Girl a chance and bid me an official farewell.

Wait, seriously? I mean, I’d heard men have trouble multitasking but this surpasses the rumors. Let your friend set you up on a date with Unknown Church Girl and ALSO get coffee with me in the daytime and be my funny friend like a grownup. There’s no reason you can’t at least meet me in person!

But he had no interest in meeting me.

To say my pride was hurt would be an understatement. I didn’t ask for that; I didn’t need that. He could’ve taken one look at my B1 post and hit the road but he didn’t, so why come this far and then not even be willing to meet me in person? I was mad. And then I felt silly.

Weeks turned into short months, and I forgot all about B6. I fell in love with Zachary Levi (for real this time). I started to get more selective on Coffee Meets Bagel and soon quit altogether. It bored me, and I had more important things to worry about like starting a blog and getting Zachary Levi to fall in love with me (for real this time).

So I was taken by surprise when I received a Facebook message from B6 a couple months later asking me if I might like to get coffee sometime.  

Well, well, well, if it isn’t the Prodigal Bagel, come back to beg for a second chance with the heroic protagonist he so blatantly discarded. Listen, kid, I don’t believe in playing weird narcissistic dating games.

But I do VERY MUCH believe in winning.

The only way to win was to show up, so I agreed to meet him at Grey Dog in Union Square on a Thursday afternoon. I took a dance class beforehand as I knew I would be more prone to civility if I’d exhausted my energy running around to music. I showed up to Grey Dog and looked for B6. I waited five minutes. I waited ten minutes.

Omg he is standing me up! MAYBE THIS IS WHAT LOSING FEELS LIKE.

And then he texted me saying he accidentally went to the wrong location and would meet me in another ten minutes. My heart softened.

That’s totally something I would do. Sit down, Ang. Maybe this is what love feels like.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t love because what I felt was shocking disappointment from the moment I saw him until we parted ways. Our real-life dynamic in no way resembled what I imagined our virtual dynamic to represent. We both tried WAY too hard, so I was surprised again when I received a text message from him asking me for a second date.

Wow, he must be really into decorum because there is no way this is coming from a place of genuine interest. Our time together was undeniably dull.

And then I freaked out. I have a distinct memory of throwing my phone across the room. You know, like a grownup.

Does he think we should try to make it work and settle for each other because it’s convenient? MICHAEL PHELPS NEVER SETTLES!

So we went out a second time, and I had a terrible attitude about it. And at the end of the date he found a polite way to break up with me. I can’t hold it against him. Maybe he was trying to start a blog.

Ang meets Bagel 1.

Many moons ago I began the delusional process of considering myself a future best-selling author. (Read: Many moons ago I began imagining strangers in Nebraska would be interested in reading about the time I chased Zachary Levi down the street.)

My sister, Christina, very matter-of-factly informed me I could not possibly consider myself a writer unless I wrote about every aspect of life, including romance. So, in the name of being a well-rounded artist she told me to consider online dating.

I knew she was baiting me.

I knew I hated it.

And I knew it would probably work.

It would be so embarrassing if Jimmy Fallon’s first interview question to me was about dating and all I could do was yell, “Noooo, the ONE thing about which I have no material!”

But two can play at that game. After mulling it over for a day or two I told Christina I would sign up ONLY if she did it with me. She rolled her eyes, heavily sighed, emotionally died, and agreed (and insisted I use that description).

Before registering on Coffee Meets Bagel we laid out some ground rules for our sourcing initiative.

  1. TELL NO ONE until it’s over.
  2. Click “like” on every match. #equalopportunityemployer
  3. Go on a date with 5 different guys. It was incredibly stupid of me to assume it would take Christina and I the same amount of time to accomplish this feat. For those of you who have not yet met my sister, just imagine what a mermaid fairy would look like. Yeah. She went on five dates in ten days. “Wow, I’m so surprised,” said no one ever. (It took me four months.)
  4. No self-sabotage. No blacking out teeth, pretending to be Gilly from SNL, or wearing sweatpants. We would be all in. (I wore sweatpants for two of my dates.)
  5. The option to abort the mission would be reevaluated on a daily basis.

The registration process for Coffee Meets Bagel was annoying at best. It was like trying to create a resume for your personal life, and we hated it. I distinctly remember us asking each other for a fun fact about ourselves because we couldn’t think of anything. Christina and I decided to select different zip codes based on where we worked and not our home address in hopes of widening the dating pool. Imagine our surprise when our first match was the exact same guy.

Already super not into this.

By the third day we ended up with different matches and began the chatting process (the only way a chat line opens is if both parties “like” each other).

Thus I met Bagel 1: an Indian businessman whose first impression was the fact he types using letters instead of words. “How r u?”, etc. I know it was petty, but this annoyed me. He said he asked me out because he liked the way I texted.

K…

He asked for my number, and we agreed to meet that Saturday night. I chose to wear black leggings, a men’s sleeveless shirt, and black heels. I say this for my dad’s benefit because he would want to know I was being safe, and nothing makes me feel more like a ninja warrior than leggings and heels.

Here’s the thing about being caught in a downpour without an umbrella – it’s only romantic if you’re a Disney Princess and not schlepping a giant backpack. I showed up to meet B1 with mascara on my cheeks and towel-drying my hair with my sweatshirt.

Disney is full of idiots.

We met at a bubble tea shop because I refused to go to a bar, and he did not want to get coffee (a fact upon which I judged him harshly). B1 was very friendly and very tall. I really enjoyed chatting with him. In no time he asked me why I was on Coffee Meets Bagel. Somehow this question caught me off guard.

B1: “Are you looking for a boyfriend?”

What’s the Politically Correct phrase for “hell no.” …. Is it Obamacare?

Ang: *blank stare*

B1: “A hookup?”

He said that with an uncomfortable amount of nonchalance.

Ang, involuntarily making a face: “No, I’m not into that.”

B1, looking slightly confused: “Haven’t you had a fling?”

Ang: “No.”

B1: “Have you ever had a boyfriend?”

Ang: “No.”

B1 looked surprised, but I’d been through this interrogation before and knew his next move.

B1: “Have you never had sex?!”

There it is.

Ang, smiling and slightly bowing as if meeting the Queen for the first time: “That is correct.”

B1: “WHAT I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT.”

I couldn’t help but start laughing.

Why is he so surprised? EVERYONE is born a virgin. If I had said, “I’m a mutant with powers, like from X-men” his reaction would be much more understandable.

B1: “Have you ever kissed a guy?”

Ang, rolling her eyes: “YEAH. I’ve kissed two guys.”

The total is actually now three, but it’s not as cool as it sounds. The first guy was, in my opinion, the ugliest guy on earth. Imagine the ugliest guy you’ve ever seen … now add a pound of cologne and knock out a couple teeth. I kissed him outside a Waffle House that didn’t have lights in the W so it said AFFLE HOUSE (pronounced Awful House).

The second guy was a friend of mine. I kissed him because it was 2012, and I was sort of nervous the Mayans were right and the world was ending and I did not want to go into eternity having only kissed the ugliest guy I’d ever seen.

The third guy was the musician on a project I was working on in New York. He blindsided me with a declaration of love, kissed me, and then said he was ready to marry me (not on the same day, but there were definitely not enough days between each event for it to be deemed rational behavior). I now choose to interpret that sequence of events as the best compliment a kiss can receive, but at the time I performed the emotional equivalent of jumping out of a moving car in the middle of a highway. Not only because he frequently spoke to me in his Donald Trump voice, although, yes, that was a HUGE part of it.

I spent the remainder of my date with B1 trying to convince him I was in fact telling the truth about my virginity. I said I follow Jesus, and He says sex is designed for marriage.

B1: “So, you won’t have sex until you’re married?”

Ang: “IF I get married. Yes. But if all goes well I’ll die a virgin!” *crosses fingers*

Might as well have a little fun while I’m here.

B1: “But how will you know if you’re good at it?”

Good at sex? My dear boy, I have a sense of musicality and a sense of humor which I’m pretty sure is all it takes.

*Ang shrugs*

B1: “But sometimes people get divorced. What if you get divorced?”

Ang, wanting to be done talking about marriage: “If I get married I’m not getting divorced. It’s forever.”

B1: “But what if you guys have problems?”

Have you MET me!? Obviously we would have problems.

Ang, annoyed at defending something she doesn’t want: “THEN WE’LL WORK ON IT.”

B1: “But what if he wants to get divorced?”

Ang, trapped in a miserable hypothetical marriage to a guy who wants out: “Too bad. He’s stuck with me.”

B1: “Well, what if he leaves you?”

Great. So now the hypothetical husband I don’t even want is abandoning me? Thank you for taking me to THIS place, you pinhead.

Ang, glaring at B1: “Well I guess there’s nothing I can do about him LEAVING me.”

I don’t like this game anymore. Shut it down.

So, I asked B1 how many people he had slept with.

No no, don’t look at me with that surprised face. You wanted to talk about it, let’s talk about it!

Based on his response I guessed he was either very bad at counting, or once he hit one million he decided the numbers were no longer important.

And yet, somehow after all this, he looked at me and asked, “So, how do you see our relationship progressing from here?”

Now it was my turn to be surprised. Sure, it had been an interesting date, but I thought both of us understood it didn’t require an encore. In the most polite way I could muster I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “We will not be dating.”

Before we left the tea shop B1 asked if we could take a selfie. I asked, “Why? So you can show all your friends the crazy virgin you went out with?” He nodded. “Believe me, I am telling so many people about this.”

Same.

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Ang and The Agency.

The best artists in show business are represented by an agent. Having an agent is like having someone run around yelling, “Hey everyone, hire this girl! She’s amazing!” Or so I imagine. The biggest reason I have wanted an agent is because I want to be a dancer on Saturday Night Live, although in my fantasy agents also know the location of all the public restrooms in midtown.

Thus, I was excited last summer when I was invited to audition for an agency in the city. I had attended an open call for this team once before, after which they did not pursue a contract with me. But hey, getting invited seemed more promising.

This is it, Ang. Second time’s the charm.

There’s a specific “look” typically seen at Musical Theatre auditions: a cute cropped top, short skirt, and red red lipstick. But when I woke up on that Thursday morning I felt the need for a real power outfit so I chose grey textured leggings and a fitted black top. I looked like I belonged in The Hunger Games. I figured if nothing else I would stand out and hoped it would play to my advantage.

The choreographer who taught our audition combination is one of my favorite artists in the whole world. Everything he does is incredibly musical, story-driven, and genius. When I saw him in the room I was instantly relieved.

YES! This is going to go well for me.

We danced the combination in groups of six, twice. I had SO much fun dancing, but normally you can feel when The Agent Eyes are on you and when they’re not. When I was dancing The Eyes were actively not on me.

Alright screw this.

And then, The Eyes said, “Now we’re going to do a little improvisation across the floor. One at a time.”

Ok I mean I don’t LOVE improv, but I don’t hate it. My feelings on this are completely neutral.

And THEN The Eyes said, “Let your improv tell me something I should know about you.”

I suddenly got VERY excited.

Oh she should DEFINITELY know how funny I think I am. This is going to go very well for me.

The song The Eyes played during our improv was Postmodern Jukebox’s rendition of “The Thong Song.” Feel free to give it a listen to help solidify the context of what happened next. As the auditionees started moving across the floor all the tricks came out: backflips, jump splits, crazy pirouettes, etc.

Usually, this would intimidate me but not that day. That day I had a Great Idea, and it was hard for me not to giggle as I waited in line.

I’m going to pretend like one of my legs doesn’t work. Which is great because it shows I am creative and can commit to an acting choice, which is what every casting director is certainly looking for in an ensemble dancer. Bonus points for me because there is NO WAY any other dancer in here is going to take their improv in a pirate-related direction. Way to set yourself up for inevitable success, Ang.

So when it was my turn to improv, I took one big confident step out with my right foot, and then looked confused and almost fell over when my left foot didn’t follow along. I stepped my right foot back next to my left, and tried again. But my left foot stayed glued to the floor. I then took both hands to my left leg and with a melodramatic look on my face dragged my left leg like dead weight.

All

The

Way

Across

The

Floor.

When I made it to the center of the room I sensed The Eyes were not into it.

There’s a slight chance this was a mistake. Too late to back out now, Ang. Stay committed.

I finished my drag with a bow.

The Eyes did not book me.

(If you are an agent and happen to be reading this, I can actually improv where both legs work properly. I can also improv as a zombie. One time I auditioned for a Halloween show at Six Flags, and when we had to improv I started to crawl off the stage like I was gonna eat the casting directors.)

Team Morgan and Its Players.

Several years ago my family was emotionally sabotaged by a couple of idiots. It was mildly traumatic, but my dad kept saying, “We’ll get through this. We’re Team Morgan.” This was both very sweet and highly unusual as my family has never been into team sports (unless you count racing through the airport to make it on the plane before takeoff). But after several conversations we figured out which position on a football team each of us represents, and now we have matching Team Morgan sweatshirts. Christina ordered them as a surprise Christmas present for my dad a few years ago, after which he insisted we take an album-cover-style picture in our backyard. 

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Yep, that’s my team. Allow me to formally introduce you to each player.

Dad: Coach

He sees the big picture, comes up with the game plan, and oversees the wellness of our team as a whole. He’s a drummer, a retired Army Colonel, The Most Kind-Hearted, and is currently slaying the GIF game in our Team Morgan text chain. He once read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series to Christina and I, but his wonderful taste in literature directly conflicts with his atrocious taste in movies (stay away from A Cat’s Nine Lives). His favorite things include “cleaning parties,” Funyuns, and mango smoothies.

Spirit Animal: Dolphin

Catchphrase: “Well I like it.”

My Favorite Memory: Dancing with Dad. Although he’s got great rhythm and musicality, when it comes to moving his entire body he’s pretty restricted to the 2-step. He gets this Gene-Kelley-finesse in his shoulders like he’s about to step into the world’s most fantastic dance break, and then he just does a casual step and snap from side to side.



Mom: Offense

She loves to get stuff moving and is great at accomplishing action steps (i.e. she found us a free A/C unit in her spare time). She plays SUPER well with others and has the most boisterous laugh of anyone I’ve ever met. Or seen on TV. Or seen in a movie. Or heard on the radio. Her favorite things include bike rides, quality time with people she loves, climbing trees, and taking pictures of her cats.

Spirit Animal: Owl

Catchphrase: “Am I the only one who [fill in the blank]?”

My Favorite Memory: Watching Mom watch You’ve Got Mail, specifically the part in the movie where they play the song “Signed, Sealed, and Delivered.” Every time she hears the intro to the song she stands up with her arms stretched up (complete with jazz hands and a bevel like she’s Roxie Hart) and yells,“Wooooo!” After that there’s just lots of pointing.


Christina: Quarterback

She calls the plays in our team huddles and makes it look easy to throw a touchdown. She is totally fearless until it comes to hair in the shower drain. She once accidentally bruised someone’s hand during a “nice-to-meet-you” handshake. Her favorite things include speaking fake German, layering her outfits, and being extremely kinesthetic. She gives the most intense high-fives and is the only person I know who took up the conga drums as a form of therapy.

Spirit Animal: Butterfly

Catchphrase: “Don’t tell me how to live my life.”

My Favorite Memory: One time in high school Christina and I were sitting in an auditorium listening to a lecture and we were both wearing cute shoes, so I took out my camera and snapped a picture of our feet because I was bored. Christina immediately leaned over and whispered, “Take it again; I wasn’t smiling.”

Ang: Defense

I fly into action when I feel like I’m being attacked, and I’m intensely protective of those I love. Christina said I should give the example of the time 8-year-old Ang came to her defense on the playground when she started crying after a little boy came up and said he wanted her to be his girlfriend. But I don’t like that story because I threatened him on the first day of his family’s weekend stay at our house and the rest of the weekend was not great for me. The story of my college experience is a preferable example. I went to school as a dance major hungry for artistic challenges, but the head of the dance department interpreted my dedication as blatant disrespect (common misconception), and I felt personally attacked by her for the next four years. My final defensive play occurred during my senior class farewell when I performed a personal rewrite of Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song” that included the line, “Don’t wanna go to technique class, so you can go and kiss my — acetabular labrum …” The student body loved it; the faculty were slightly less enthused. I don’t look great in either of these examples, but at least the latter has an artistic element. My favorite things include napping, not wearing pants, and dancing at the club.

Spirit Animal: Cow

Catchphrase: “Hundred percent.”

My Favorite Memory: The first time I laughed until I cried I was probably 4 years old. I was watching a VHS tape of Lamb Chops during which Lamb Chops says, “Sally, do seals eat beach balls?” I distinctly remember wiping tears from my cheeks and thinking, “Wow, life is fun,” and asking Mom to rewind it, so I could watch it again.

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Ang on SNL.

One of the first Saturday Night Live sketches I ever saw was one where Kenan Thompson plays a talk show host who always interrupts his guests by singing, “What’s up with that?” I sat in my pajamas laughing until I cried and have been a fan of the show ever since. With the move to New York came the craving to be on SNL in any capacity, although I had no idea how to go about making this dream a reality. But all that changed one afternoon when I overheard one of my coworkers talk about being tired from her time as an extra on SNL. I immediately yelled “Wait WHAT!? That’s a thing? How did you get that?” She replied, “Oh girl, just mail them a copy of your headshot and resume and include a note saying you’d love to be an extra on the show. They’re so casual over there; they’ll just text you and ask if you’re available.”  

They will TEXT me? On my mobile device!? All I have to do is ransom-note them my resume? WHY DID I NOT THINK OF THIS BEFORE!?

I mailed my headshot and resume to 30 Rockefeller Center around Christmas. My roommate, Kendall, convinced me to type my “Pick me!” note on resume paper instead of handwriting it on a sticky note.

Yeah, good call.

I knew Lorne Michaels wouldn’t text me the next day to offer me a spot on the show … but I couldn’t help but be disappointed when I didn’t hear from SNL within the week. Or month. By the three month mark I had forgotten all about it. SNL had joined the ranks of Those Who Don’t Want To Hire Ang, and there was no use continuing to pine over them.  

Until Thursday, April 14th, at approximately 2:10pm.

I had just taken a jazz class and as I walked upstairs to the lobby I said to myself, “Ang, every person’s story is different. Find joy in the process.” And then I took my phone off airplane mode, and I saw a text from an unknown number: “Hi Angela it’s Blake from SNL” —

I started squealing.

“Just wanted to know if you are avail tomorrow – time TBD – for background work? Would also need you Saturday for live show.”

Ok I was in class for 90 minutes; when did he send this? I hope I’m not too late if I text him YES I AM right this second …

He replied, “Great! It is for the Cold Open Democratic Debate sketch.”

Be still my heart. Dreams DO come true! My SNL debut, and it’s in a political sketch? I’ve been saying I need to expand my political commentary and what better way to do it than pretending to attend the democratic debate in an SNL sketch? I am living my dream.

Rehearsal was Friday night at 8pm. At 30 Rock. I couldn’t stop screaming, which would have been a problem if I hadn’t lost my voice. My inner dialogue was along the lines of “I’m gonna ACTUALLY be in the REAL Room Where It Happens!” I proceeded to the Visitors Center to receive a pass that granted me access to The Sacred 8th Floor, and I was smiling so big I’m sure those bored receptionists questioned my sanity.  

It was another blessing that I was alone in the elevator. It looked exactly like the inside of the elevators from the TV show 30 Rock, a show I’ve watched more times than I care to admit. I barely got out all my wannabe-screams by the time the doors opened.  

There it is. The hallway leading up to studio 8H. Ok walk reeeeeeeally slowly. Soak it in. Breathe the oxygen surrounding the black-and-white framed photos of each SNL cast. These are the genius demigods of comedic writing and performing. I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M HERE.

After signing in at the NBC Page Desk (omg how ‘30 Rock’ is my life right now!?) I was directed to the holding room, Seth Meyers’ studio. There was a nice spread of snacks and several long tables in the middle of the floor where people had begun to congregate. I parked it next to a couple of older ladies. Somehow I knew 80-year old actresses would be my favorite. They didn’t so much talk to me as to each other, but I didn’t mind. They discussed where to eat dinner on the UES, where to go on vacation when you retire, and complained about how long you wait around when you work as an extra. Katherine said, “At least it’s a paycheck.” I nearly lost my mind. 

IT’S A PAYCHECK!?

I would have done this for free. Every weekend until I die. You mean it’s possible to get paid to do what I love? I never really thought I would get to experience something so rewarding. Oooomg here come the tears. Rein it in, Ang.

Finally someone came to escort us to the stage for rehearsal, and I quickly surpassed my previous freak-out threshold. Suddenly, in walked Kate McKinnon. Then Larry David. Then Julia Louis-Dreyfus. And THEN the next time I looked over I saw Lorne Michaels.  

I get excited pretty easily, but there have only been two times in my life I have gotten teary-eyed due to artistic euphoria. The first was when I saw the Bolshoi Ballet perform ‘La Bayadere’ at the Kennedy Center, and the second time was when I saw Lorne Michaels.

The next day I had to be back at 30 Rock at 11:30am in preparation for the run-through. I brought the most politically-appropriate clothes in my possession, which was a challenge because Wardrobe said, “I really don’t want black, or anything too revealing.”  

I’m a dancer with an aversion to pants, so you’ve basically ruled out everything I own.

I brought my yoga pants and a sweater of Christina’s for my upcoming SNL debut as “Left-Leaning Democrat.” Allow me to explain. The extras were seated behind Beck Bennett, who was playing the moderator. The camera was going to do a quick shot of us before hitting Kate McKinnon and Larry David on the center stage platform. Because they had sent us on stage in a single-file line, I ended up in the chair furthest from the camera. So my character choice was to be an excited, ethnically-ambiguous Democrat who leans over to talk to her best friend, literally leaning over far enough to the left to ensure her hair gets caught on broadcast television.

I am totally getting the hang of TV.

We had a quick 45 minute break for dinner on Saturday and while I didn’t want to leave the building, I definitely wanted the satisfaction of saying, “Please make this to go. I have to get back to 30 Rock.” I grabbed a falafel salad, ran back to the building, and slid in the elevator with two other extras. The doors were about to close when in walked Lorne Michaels.

OMG OMG OMG LORNE MICHAELS IS IN MY ELEVATOR! Do I make a joke? I mean Larry David is here and I’m holding a falafel salad and I have a big nose; there’s a Jewish joke in there somewhere, right? No no NO Ang absolutely not. Do not say anything you haven’t had the chance to rehearse at home.

So I kept my mouth shut and screamed as silently as I possibly could.

My excitement was barely containable as we took our places for the 8pm snow. I smiled out at the audience from my far corner chair and jammed out to the music the band was playing as if everyone had come to 30 Rock just to see me dance in my seat. 

Between the 8pm and 11:30pm show we were sent to Hair and Makeup. Hair and Makeup was just a line of brightly-lit mirrors in our holding room/Seth Meyers’ studio, BUT STILL. And it’s not like I hadn’t put so much makeup on my face already and willed my hair into a tiny afro, BUT STILL.

My hair lady was a beautiful Eastern European woman named Neraida. She commented on how similar my hair was to hers. It always feels like a good sign when the hairdresser thinks you’re hair twins. We made small talk mostly because if I kept my mouth shut I would have exploded, but also I definitely wanted to make as many friends as I could.

“Hey you know who we should bring back? The ethnically-ambiguous, curly-headed girl.” THIS IS THE GOAL.

And then it was time. Baby Interns told us to line up single file, like they didn’t trust us not to wander off into the backstage. Which was annoying but also a VERY good point. They led us through the backstage area.

It’s just like Stefon said. This place has everything.

Out of Seth Meyers’ studio. Past the Wall of Casts. Back through the hallways where cue cards were being rewritten. Through the hallway where cast members were being wigged and prepped and then through the double doors to the set. Under the stairs there’s a little sacred box where I’m guessing Lorne Michaels watches the show. I saw him open a bottle of champagne and smile at a man and a woman who were sitting with their backs to me.

I feel like I recognize the back of that guy’s head.

He turned around right as I walked past.

Yep; just as I thought: Chris Rock is here to see my show. It’s almost like Lorne Michaels whispered, “Hey Chris, you see that ethnically-ambiguous, curly-headed girl behind you? You should read her blog.”

We sat in our chairs and once again I smiled at the audience as if they were paying attention to me. Beck Bennett was on deck immediately to my right, and then out came Kenan Thompson. He and Beck began quietly riffing and giggling like little kids. And then I was giggling without knowing or caring why. Whatever they were saying I’m SURE it was hilarious. Stage Manager called for quiet on the set as we were set for sixty seconds until the live show. You could hear a pin drop.

Wow, these people are good. I wonder what’s it like to be routinely incredible.

Stage Manager counted down from five seconds and pointed at Beck. The red camera light came on, and I was the best “Left-Leaning Democrat” there ever was. It was just a fraction of a second, but my giant head did appear in the corner of the screen.

I think this is what “making it” feels like.

When I finally walked into my room at 2:30am, there was a giant bouquet of flowers and a card from my family, congratulating me on the happiest I had ever been while wearing pants and a politically appropriate sweater.