It was profoundly uncomfortable in every way, which made it doubly difficult to keep the smile plastered on my face. They told you over and over, smile, always smile, because you never know when the camera may be on you. And God knows, you don't want to seem ungracious. But strapped into compression undergarments, wobbly heels, and a dress that barely let me breathe, it was an effort of will to continue pretending.
I uncrossed my legs, then recrossed them the other way. I could feel the elastic tug as I twisted. It was a relief to finally get here, the entire day consumed by fittings and appointments and girlie nonsense. It reminded me of going into labor, because everything was about you, yet you're not in control of any of it. It was oddly quiet for such a large crowd, people either couldn't talk or were afraid to.
I wanted more than anything else to sneak out and get a cigarette, but I knew it was almost time for my award to be announced. I had been consumed by the preparations and instructions, the matching of shoes and purse and earrings, the advice on who to talk to, the hair and the makeup. As much as I wanted to know if we would get it or not, I wanted to get this over with and get home.
It was the unwritten rule. You can't admit that you want one, while the truth is that everyone does. That's not what I do it for. I create because I can't do anything else. I spent the entire year making the film because I loved it, because it consumed me. I make movies to get paid, and I make movies to get recognized by my peers, but mostly I make movies, like the old joke says, because I can't sing or dance.
There was definitely a sense of competition. You know what others are up to through the rumor mill, and part of you is fueled by wanting to do it better than them. But it's mostly just the beauty, you want to make this golden, perfect idea come through, realize it on film as clearly and perfectly as you can. You don't know how it will be received, and on some level, you don't care- you want it to be as good as you can make it.
I turned my head the other way, feeling the tugs and pulls of the dress against me. I wasn't delusional enough to think I was beautiful. There were much younger, much more beautiful starlets everywhere, the fuel of a thousand fantasies. I probably got a few nasty comments online as I walked in, but I had to admit: I have never felt more beautiful, more fussed over and assembled and put together. As uncomfortable as it was, the whole evening had the aura of magic.
I had made up my mind, when I learned we were nominated, that I was not going to worry about whether or not we got it. As one of our producers mentioned when we were talking about it, if we did, it instantly becomes the first line of your obituary. I wanted it, of course. All of us did. But I wouldn't be crushed if we didn't.
My body seemed to disagree as they came back from commercial. I sat up a little straighter, pushing my stockinged feet down into my shoes. I grabbed my clutch purse a little tighter. This was it, my whole life could change in the next few seconds. My heart pounded as I realized I was lying to myself. I wanted it, more than I wanted anything else in my life. I plastered on the fake smile, concentrating on maintaining my face as neutral as possible.
"...the Oscar goes to...," I heard, the sounds of the envelope loud in my ears.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Hannah challenged me with "The way to get things done is to stimulate competition. I do not mean in a sordid, money grubbing way, but in the desire to excel-Charles Schwab" and I challenged Wendryn with "The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful".