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“It’s always been like this” sighs Anya – “shit coffee in here, gourmet shit out there. I mean you can go out there and help yourself if you like, in theory. But you better believe all those fuckers are gonna stare at you, like ‘who the fuck does she think she is?’ There’s this invisible line and clearly we’re on this side of it. I mean sometimes I would love a nice fucking coffee y’know? But it’s not fucking worth it, I’ve got enough shit to deal with. Besides at least this stuff is quick – I don’t need to to stand there doing barista shit, waiting around like a fucking idiot.”
I take a sip of my lukewarm coffee and nod attentively. She’s right, it’s weak and tastes more like filter paper and plastic than it does like coffee.
“You want a top up?” she asks, waving the nearly-empty jug.
“Yeah sure, why not”.
She empties the last of the pale brown liquid into my mug, tipping it completely upside down and shakling the dregs out.
“You see that guy out there?” she points the jug at the star of the production. The guy must be in his 50’s by now but he’s still looking pretty good, he’s a household name. Rogueish, bit of a silver fox, you know the guy. Obviously I can’t say his name because of the circumstances but you know him.
“Yeah I see him, of course I see him, he’s the star of the show”
“Exactly! And you and I, and probably everyone else here knows he’s a grade A cunt. So how come he gets to parade around out there earning the big bucks and drinking the good coffee? I’m not mad about my job, I like my job. I just think it’s fucking bullshit that there’s this collossal divide between me and you, and him. Like, he can’t ever be working that much harder, or be that much more talented, to possibly deserve that much more than the average person, it’s just not realistic. Sure he might be a great actor, personally I think he’s fine, not great. But I’m great at makeup, I’m good with people y’know, I can put people at ease for hours on end while I’m doing some pretty uncomfortable shit to them”
I snort at little at this and she narrows her eyes.
“Yeah, okay, grow up you fucker. What I mean is – who decides which jobs get paid the most. Why is a Hollywood makeup artist not paid the same as a Hollywood actor? Both skilled trades, both necessary for the production, but here I am drinking this shit and he’s probably got a fucking fancy machine in his trailer or something. Fuck it, it’s bullshit”.
“Well yeah” I say “could be worse though, you’re still getting paid decent bucks to stand around talking shit and drinking coffee, maybe just don’t worry about it, read a book or something, play some games on your phone instead, just enjoy the perks of late-stage capitalism”
Anya sighs again and stares up at the ceiling, fixing on the flourescent light fittings.
“Yeah I know. Sometimes I wish I didn’t care about it, but I do though. It’s as though somewhere, deep down, I might actually have some morals or a sense of right and wrong”
“Weird, why would you do that?”
“Who knows, terrible idea, never did me any good”
“Exactly. Anyway, I’d rather be back here with you than out there”
She stops, screws up her face, turns and squints at me incredulously
“What? Why?”
“I don’t know, I think it’s better to be out here, unseen. I think if you spend your life constantly being watched, then how can you ever really be sure you’re not just performing for the audience? If everything about you, including your private life is in the papers, and everyone you meet is constantly comparing you to the fantasy version of you they’ve made up in their heads, or watching you for something they can report later to TMZ. Everything about your life is a performance then – you’re a character in the world. Also, you’re a character in everyone else’s lives, not just your own. Think about it. You and I are aware of him, everyone is aware of him. But he’s not aware of everyone. That’s a power imbalance, there’s something cosmically fucking dangerous about that as a concept. I can’t explain it, but you know it as well as I do. It’s like his whole self is dispersed among all these other people that are aware of him, and the expectations they have. Imagine how confusing that must be, what effect–”
She raises her finger to interrupt – “Yeah maybe, but you don’t know that. You’re assuming that he thinks about all this in the same way you do. For all you know, his internal monologue could just be ‘hurr durr I love being famous, I love money and fucking, burr hurr durr’”
“Yeah that’s right, I’m making assumptions, you’re making assumptions. We’re all making assumptions about that guy, but he’s not making assumptions about us. Don’t you think that’s weird? Like, the psychic energy or something of that, all that fucking awareness and attention must have an effect somehow. I think we’re all connected in some way, and being seen like that just seems like an anomaly. I mean back in the old days before the internet or the press or whatever, nobody would ever have that much attention focussed on them. We’re not built for it.
“Uh-huh but we’re not built for any of this really, I wasn’t built to drive a car that does 100 miles per hour on the freeway, you think I’m supposed to be flying down the freeway in metal tin every day? No! I’m probably supposed to be picking berries off of trees or some shit. But it doesn’t affect me in some spiritual way. It’s not against god or the natural order or something”
“Isn’t it? I mean, doesn’t it feel like something is a bit off with the modern world? Doesn’t all this relentless progress just feel a bit manic and fucked up?”
“I feel a bit manic and fucked up”
I cock my head at her impatiently.
“I know you’re joking but I also know you know what I mean”.
Anya smiles patiently and sets her coffee down in a clean spot between the used baby wipes, brushes and dirty Q-tips.
“Either way, I’d still rather be out there than in here”.
We both turn to watch. Her; perched on the edge of the table, leaning for a better view. Me; legs folded over each other uncomfortably on the slightly-too-low stool. The director calls for quiet on the set, there’s a thick silence as the camera dollies in to focus on the star, his big speech begins.
“Can you hear anything?”
Any turns her head, straining to pick anything out.
“From here, fuck all, something about how we all need to stick together maybe? My fellow Americans, looks like that kind of thing”.
From our position in makeup it looks like she’s right, his suit is immaculate, he looks concerned, but firm and steadfast. The look of someone attempting to acknowledge just how serious and dangerous the situation is. While at the same time reassuring us that everything is under control and there’s nothing to worry about. The impossible paradox of politics resolved into a dependable square jaw and loosely-clenched fist.


Mercenary Designer.