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You probably still remember the glamour of your first gig in the real world (you know, the world where you no longer go to classes, do shots of Jäger and hang out on the quad all afternoon).

The super talented Wendi Aarons and I decided to write about first jobs this week. Her hilarious piece is below. Leave a comment and then head on over to her site to read about my desperate quest to become a TV starlet.

Hollywood or Bust
By Wendi Aarons

In 1991, I moved to Los Angeles to become a famous movie director. True, the only thing I’d ever directed in my life was a 10-minute long student film called “Hair Salon Horror”–starring myself, but that didn’t seem to matter. I knew I was just months away from hanging out with Scorcese and DeNiro on the Paramount lot. After all, I was young, I was ambitious and not only did I know what “film noir” meant, I could also pronounce it in a really pretentious way.

I sent out resumes for weeks with no response, then finally, one day I got a phone call telling me I had an interview at CBS Television City. CBS Television City! Oh, sweet Jesus, it was like being invited to the Holy Land for lunch. The interview was for a part-time, temp job with a research company that tested fall television pilots for CBS.

As I’d find out later, the company rounded up groups of sweaty tourists from Hollywood Boulevard or the Farmers Market, showed them a new show that was being considered for the fall line-up, then had them fill out a questionnaire to see what they thought about it. You know, because the American public is just so good at evaluating talent.

The morning of my interview, I dressed carefully in my best shoulder-padded jacket from The Limited and a matching skirt that ended just above my white-nyloned knees, then fluffed up my long, permed hair and grabbed the briefcase I used to carry around my lipstick and Bon Jovi cassettes.

Arriving at the CBS lot, I couldn’t have been more excited, but excitement soon turned to panic when I had trouble finding my interview room. I was in the main executive offices asking for help when a bored-looking security guard stood up and said “I’ll walk you over there. Better’n sittin’ on my butt all day.” Wow! I remember thinking. These TV people are really nice!

Security man and I then walked down a flight of stairs, rounded a corner and began to pass what looked like a holding pen full of people waiting to go into a taping of “The Price Is Right.” I smiled at a woman wearing an iron-on t-shirt that said “KISS ME BOB!!!!”, but then she looked at me, looked at my security guard escort and then at my big, blonde hair and suddenly she screamed, “OH MY GOD! IT’S BROOKE FROM THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL! IT’S BROOKE FROM THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL! WOOOO!” And that’s when all hell broke loose.

Without warning, the easily-excitable 100 person crowd—most in bright t-shirts, some clutching stuffed animals—started screeching “BROOKE! BROOKE! I LOVE YOU, BROOKE!” and began pushing each other out of the way so they could get closer to me. I stood there frozen, stunned that I was actually being mistaken for a soap opera star. I mean, I didn’t even have on lip gloss that day.

As the crowd grew louder and more boisterous, the security guard quickly grabbed my elbow, grunted, “Let’s move it! Now! NOW!” and the two of us ran past the screaming, reaching mob, whose disappointed moans of “Awwww! Brooke! We love you! Please don’t marry Ridge!” followed us around the corner. Then, before I could even catch my breath, the guard opened up a door right in front of us, said “Here’s room 219! Good luck!” and gave me a little shove inside. Wow! I remember thinking. These TV people are really pushy!

Panting like a dog that’s just been chasing rabbits, I stepped into the room and saw 10 people sitting around a conference table–all staring right at me. I started to smile, then caught my reflection in the window and saw my messy hair, wrinkly suit and face full of flop sweat and I knew I’d just blown my big chance. Taking a deep, shaky breath, I tried not to cry as I nervously stammered, “Um, hi…sorry I’m…but the…Bob Barker…over the…Showcase Showdown…Brooke…don’t know…need job…who’s Ridge?”

Then the man at the head of the table simply held up his hand for me to stop talking, gave me a kind look and said, “Listen, don’t worry about it. Last week those idiots thought I was Tony Orlando.”

And one hour later, I had my first job in Hollywood–testing a TV pilot about talking cats.

29 Responses to clawing our way to the top

  • jessica Bern says:

    I think I owned that same suit. except mine was red but I had the perm and everything.  ONe woman swore on her life I was Jennifer Aniston and wouldn’t leave me alone until I confessed. 

  • Wow. My first after-college job was at a yearround camp.  It paid crap, but it offered housing and NO WAY was I going to live in my parent’s house again.

    Nothing amusing or dramatic, though.

  • God Wendi – the  exact same thing happened to me the other day. I was walking down the road and SUDDENLY all these people started running after me – It’s Julia – It’s Julia Roberts!
    It was really frightening, so I totally symphathise.

  • Akilah Sakai says:

    I understand mistaken identity like no other. Every single day I’m mistaken for a domesticated woman and the hubster thinks the house will be clean and dinner will be ready on time.  It’s been over a decade and he keeps expecting this of me! What gives?

    And please tell me you have a photo of this job interview ensemble, Wendi!

  • knittergran says:

    If you look like Brooke, you must be gorgeous!  I’ve SEEN the show (but I don’t WATCH the show-there’s a difference, says I) and she is beautiful.  So take it as the compliment those fans meant it to be.  Gosh, weren’t you tempted to sign autographs?

  • wendi says:

    First, thanks to Kelcey for letting me post here. Second, let me clarify that I DO NOT look like a soap star. Those people were just insane.  And the only person I get confused with nowadays is Angela Landsbury.

  • Rick says:

    Did you hear how a man on a recent Showcase Showdown guessed the dollar amount of his prize package to the exact dollar, and that Drew Carey character didn’t even act like it was a big deal??!!  Bob, come back!  Great story, Wendi.

  • Aunt Marcia (Guess Whose?) says:

    First Best Job I ever had I could have shown up for interview naked and drunk.  Only 2 people showed up, me and a Transexual on speed who couldn’t type.  I got the job because I could type…and thus began my career at Screw Magazine as the Advertising Manager/Writer in NYC in 1970. 

  • Diane says:

    Seems like a lifetime ago that I started my first corporate job – bad hair, bad suit, hose N heels, praying like crazy I wouldn’t be found out as a poser compared to my mensa collegues. Turns out – they all felt the same – kind of like junior high school. Everybody hated junior high school but nobody would admit to it at the time.

  • sam says:

    oh god, i had that hair too!!  (come to think of it i sort of still do…)  anywho, great post, i’m dying to know where your career went from there.

  • MN Mama says:

    I loved your desciption of your Limited jacket, your skirt and your hose…..  I was trying to imagine your shoes even though you did not mention them.  I remember the ones I was wearing to my first job in 1992.  Uh…  they were so ugly.   Wow! 

  • Pseudo says:

    I used to watch The Bold and the Beautiful in college.  So, did Brooke end up marrying Ridge?

    Came from Marinka’s and now will take a couple visits getting you and Kelcey (or are you Kelcey) straight.  What with the switch and all.

  • Anna Lefler says:

    OK, your first job kicks the crap out of mine (which involved a burnt orange pantsuit and a cash register with sweet & sour sauce splashed all over it).

    Awesome post.

    :^)  Anna

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kelcey kintner