Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Right Place at the Wrong Time

Have you ever heard about being at the wrong place at the wrong time or being at the right place at the right time? I'm sure people feel like that way all the time. Imagine if you were at the right place at the wrong time. How about being at the right place at the wrong time twice or maybe even three time in one night.

This past January, I had dinner at Tony Roma's in Encino. I sat in the last booth near the bar. I tend to have dinner alone, especially when my lady is not around. Some assume that men are unable to go out and just have dinner without talking to another woman. Everyone needs a moment to digest the challenges of life; to rejuvenate and be ready for more obstacles.

The restaurant was busier than usual. Some nights appear like that. People need some time to reflect on their jobs, personal lives, and whatever else excites or stresses them out. The server was very busy as it was apparent that was juggling a dozen tables at one time. She passed by a few times and mentioned that she would be back in a few minutes. It felt like one of those déjà vu moments. She managed to pass by three times and say the same thing.

I was starving, not starving in the sense that I don't eat often, but I was extremely hungry. I usually visit Tony Roma’s for one reason, to eat their famous ribs. The server finally came back. I didn't need to contemplate on what to order. The dish was programmed into my mind like Microsoft Vista. Though, my mind was more stable and processed information better.

I ordered the bountiful beef ribs, which I might add are the best ribs there or anywhere else on the planet. I have tried ribs at many restaurants, and nothing compared to Tony Roma's beef ribs. Chili's has good pork ribs, but beef is my favorite kind of ribs. I decided that I would have an appetizer this time around.

Normally I focus on the beef ribs. The boneless buffalo strips just leaped out at me as if they were begging to be ordered. Not to sound crazy or anything, but food tends to communicate to you when you're extremely hungry.

I didn't hold back at all. I ordered the beef ribs, a salad, an appetizer, and a Sam Adams beer. The Sam Adams beer was exactly the one that I had on another trip the previous year. It was some type of Sam Adams wheat beer on draft - a seasonal one, but they may still have it there now.

The beer went down as smooth as any other. I tend to drink the Jeremiah Red beer at BJ's too. Whenever I go to restaurants, I have my favorites. With the economy, everyone must be financially responsible, especially with eating out and taking trips.

I'm not one of those people that drink until I get drunk. I like to enjoy a good drink one in a while. Sometimes I may go a year without having a beer. You wouldn't label me as a social drinker because I also drink Coke and Rock Star energy drinks.

To the right of me, I noticed two women dressed in business clothing. I zeroed in on what they were talking about. I know the formal name that I was trying to disclose was eves dropping.

Besides, I just heard something interesting about film, writing, and Disney. Those three trigger words took my mind out of sleep mode. Here I was, drinking a Sam Adams beer, waiting on a soon-to-be-tasty platter of beef ribs. The ribs were no longer the center of attention.

What were these women were talking about that attracted my attention? A number of their stories came up about a script, writing, Disney, Ron Howard, Michael Eisner, and so on. These were classy women that just radiated of executive power. They were sitting at the bar, enjoying a few glasses of wine and other drinks. They downloaded information about their future projects and just relaxed, and enjoyed the moment.

For any inspiring writer, this was a dream. How often do you have a chance to sit in the same space as the people that have the power to make your dreams a reality? I have lived 20 miles North of Hollywood for the past 4 years.

At times, I may see a few Hollywood stars walking around, trying to enjoy their time away from work. You know the drill; celebrities have to hide from the paparazzi. They complain about the irritating flashes from high-powered cameras. I want what these celebrities complain about. I have also wanted to work in Hollywood. Every decision that I made in the past 15 years is due to my dream.

The boneless buffalo strips were delivered. I declined to have another beer because driving under the influence is not safe. I am always responsible, especially when it comes to safety. I still couldn’t believe my ears.

For the past 18 months, since I graduated from UC Santa Barbara's Film & Media Studies undergraduate program, I have been writing academic papers for many students. I have helped other become successful. Many people can't pinpoint the exact moment they started a job or came up with an idea.

I remembered taking on a business project, one that requested me to create a website name. I decided to use Magic Writer. Since the website was already picked up by another, I settled with Writers Magician. I did visit the Magic Writer website to see what it was all about. There were a few writing companies on there. I found one that seemed cool. The link directed me to a site that catered to students and other professional clients that needed work produced. I applied and was accepted the next day. 18 months later, I have written thousands of pages for many diverse clients.

I ate half of the buffalo strips. The Sam Adams beer functioned like a glass of wine. After every bite, I washed down the strips with the beer - each bite was better than the next. Initially, I still focused on what these women were discussing. The midpoint, character development, and the setting all surfaced in the conversation. The server passed by and alerted me that the ribs would be ready soon. I nodded in agreement, but it was the writing conversation that had my direct attention.

The two film executives enjoyed their conversation. They had enjoying laughs, ones that were real and full of zest. I wanted to interact with these women about film. I understood everything they were talking about.

As mentioned earlier, every decision that I made in the past 15 years revolved around this moment. The hundreds of college film classes, degrees, reading writing books, talking to people, taking on film projects, and everything else that has to do with film prepared me. The beef ribs finally arrived. They were everything I expected, but the women were more.

There were only six ribs on the plate. Honestly, I have a really good memory. I knew they had removed one ribs. Seven ribs was the norm for the platter. When the server dropped off a few napkins, I asked about the ribs. She mentioned that my assumptions were right; the restaurant decided to remove one ribs from the platter. Not many people noticed that a rib was missing. I was still drawn to the ribs and the conversation. I only ate half of the ribs.

I tried to figure out was I should say to these women. I replayed the confrontation in my mind, over and over again. I treated the moment like a setup to a screenplay - Act I. I pulled out a receipt and wrote on it. On the paper, I communicated that these women inspired me and that I really enjoyed their conversation. I didn't want to make it look as if I was some stalker. I just wanted to thank them for inspiring me. I looked through my wallet, searching for the business cards that I usually kept in the money section.

Before I left, I had the business cards in my hand. It was like I sensed would need them, but I managed to leave them at home. People do that often. They never learn or even follow their instincts. I planned to send the cards to my brother to attract writing business.

I asked the server for a take out box. To me, I knew that I was in the right spot at the wrong time. The business card issue made me realize that whenever a person speaks to a film executive, they had to be ready. The business card was going to ruin what dreams that I made for the past two decades. Instead of being happy about being in the right spot, I now focused about the wrong time.

The bartender was cleaning the counter. When I signaled to her, she walked over. She was very friendly. I told her that I wanted to buy a glass of wine for one of the ladies. The bartender told me that the lady already had one glass too many to drink. She suggested that I go up to the ladies and talk to them. The bartender shared that one of the ladies happened to be Cindy Williams. This was the same Cindy Williams that starred on Laverne and Shirley as the blue-eyed beauty, Shirley.

I mustered the courage to approach the ladies. I told Cindy Williams that she inspired me. I also apologized for eves dropping. They laughed about the eves dropping incident and introduced themselves. The other lady was also working in the film industry - her name is Marla. They asked me about what I was doing now. I mentioned that I'm a ghostwriter for many clients.

Two years before, I graduated from UCSB as a film & media major. Within 30 seconds of talking about film, Cindy Williams asked for my business card. I knew that the business card issue was going to come up. The right spot and wrong time theme scrambled through my mind again. I told her that I didn't have one with me a time and that I had left it at home. This was like being at a party.

At parties, some people say or do the wrong thing and deflate the energy. I felt like one of these people that deflated the conversation. You could see it in Cindy's eyes. She said that if she and others opened a studio, they would consider hiring someone like me. I thought about it for a second.

Indeed, I was in the right spot and could make this the right moment. Cindy had a book in her purse. I asked if I could write down my information. Again, I made another rookie mistake. I wrote down my name and e-mail address. I left out my phone number, the most important piece of information.

Marla was also nice as well. She had a nice solitaire diamond ring on her finger. These women were extremely friendly and respectful. They were really easy to talk to. I never felt like I was judged as a smaller person. Cindy and Marla had to leave. They shook my hand, wished me luck, and really added hope to my life. I congratulated Marla on her engagement and wished her luck on her future wedding. Cindy and Marla both looked at me and then at each other. Marla mentioned that I was a real good listener. They thanked me and told me to continue on with my writing goals. Cindy and Marla had a busy day to look forward to; they were living my dream.

Was it possible that the right spot at the wrong time would occur for the third time in a night? I left the restaurant through the back entrance, beating myself about the business card mistake. Cindy and Marla were walking outside; they dispersed and went off to their vehicles. Cindy was driving a nice white car. I can't remember the make, but it was nice.

I approached Cindy and started to talk about the writing again. Marla drove up and made sure Cindy was okay to drive. Cindy told me that I should write for the new media. She said that writing commercials opened up opportunities for writers. I had a chance to fix the phone number mistake, but forgot to mention it again. I don’t know what my problem was; maybe I had a case of celebritistis. Cindy had to leave. She was an awesome person.

Cindy drove by, honked at me, and cheeringly talked out A man quickly moved out of the way, thinking he was being warned about standing in front of her car. Cindy looked extremely happy, so energetic, and full of life. She was real genuine. There was nothing fake about her at all. I smiled and thanked her for the kindness.

While driving off and away from Tony Roma's parking lot, the right spot at the wrong time theme played in my head. I didn't have a business card, I didn't write down my phone number down, and didn't fix my mistakes outside.

Whenever you want something as much as I want to be a writer, make sure you're always prepared. Carry business cards, have portfolio samples, and just be ready to discuss your skills and goals. Be positive about your chances and don't allow negativity to cloud your judgment. Always think about being in the right place at the right time.

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