Sometimes reality tiptoes up behind you and smacks you upside the head with truth so obvious it's a bloomin' wonder you can see well enough to read:
- I haven't been a 20-something for decades.
- Even though I was born in Georgia and have lived in the South my entire life, I am not a redneck.(1)
Now, you might be thinkin', "Girlfriend…h o n e y…HOW could you be SO OBLIVIOUSblessyourheart?"
But tis true…apparently I'm absolutely delusional.
How else can you explain me answering a casting call for 25-35(1a) year old extras for a country music video being filmed in Chattanooga?! Better yet – and please forgive my French(1b) – why the hell did they allow me on the set?!
Don't get me wrong, when I received an email confirmation giving me the location of the mysterious video shoot and revealing the "country music star" as TIM Live-Like-You-Were-Dyin'-Blindside McGraw, I 'bout died from The Excitement. Neveryoumind that I haven't been an actual country music fan since Garth Brooks' Friends in Low Places(2) days; there's so much bleed across music genres, it's not so hard to keep up–Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, The Band Perry, Keith Urban and, of course, Taylor Swift. McGraw makes the top of most any list.
So, I read and re-read my email with equal parts delirium and delight–
"…and come in a truck(3) if possible. Come dressed as if you were attending an outdoor dance party (cool, young, hip).
Now, you're probably smarter than me and already know this, but here's something I completely missed:
"Cool, young, hip" does not mean the same thing to a 49-year-old that it means to a 25-year-old.
Y'all…. People…. I can barely speak of it I'm still so mortified!
So I pull up in my car to the man guarding the gate, he finds my name on the list, makes me sign a waiver and directs me to steerage Extras parking. I park and skip toward the tents in the distance…slowing down when I see The Other Extras, the point at which I'm beginning to question my choices…and sanity.
Daisy Dukes. Cowboy boots. Heels. Skin…LOTS of skin. And ink. Lots of ink, too.
And suddenly I feel old enough to have given birth to every one of 'em!
My cool~young~hip outfit of choice? Lucky Brand Jeans(4), a light beige, sleeveless Anthropologie top, my favorite necklace, dangly earrings. And TOMS Shoes(5).
OH-my-ever-lovin'-WORD…while I *do* actually love my outfit (and maybe I'll photograph it later and add it to this post), DOES THAT SPELL TRUCK YEAH to YOU?
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS SWEET AND HOLY–this is a street dancin', mud dawgin', beer swillin' PARTY SONG and I'm dressed in some kind of mother/prep/hipster mash-up!! Oh the humanity…!
The afternoon was a blur after that:
- Waiting two hours with a bunch of strangers lobbying for a seat under one of the tents, wondering what was going to happen next. Thankfully, it was a beautiful afternoon; although 90°, humidity wasn't as bad as it could've been.
- Sticky Fingers for linner? Dunch? Around 4:30, they treated the Extras to burgers, dawgs, mac & cheese and beans. The Hot Girls(6) and the Posse(6) also enjoyed Sticky Fingers, but since they were fancier than our group, they got pulled pork, baked chicken, tossed salad and dessert.
- By hour two, strangers were becoming friends.
- Somewhere between hour three and four, a production assistant announced "All 25-35 year olds, come with me." That left THREE of us. So we fell in line behind 'em, not sure WHAT was going to happen. Had we not gone then, we would STILL be waiting in the Extras holding area….
- The next few hours we walked around in circles. Sorta. About a dozen trucks were arranged in a big horseshoe, some cabs facing the interior, others with the tailgait down facing in; grills, fixings and coolers filled the backs of the trucks; one truck sat in the center of the horseshoe.
- Honestly? I don't how the scene will work…it was that awkward.
Production assistants put a Coors Light or PBR in the extra's hands ("cover or peel the label"), instructed us NOT to drink it, NOT to look at any cameras and NOT to speak to the talent…and for the next two hours or so, we mingled in between the trucks ACTING LIKE WE WERE HAVING THE MOST FUN OF OUR LIVES while simultaneoulsly FEELING LIKE WE WERE LOOKING THE STUPIDEST OF OUR LIVES.
- The Hot Girls and the Posse had their own bathrooms.
- I was asked to remove my LifeKraze sunglasses because they were "distracting." I sooo need to post a picture, don't I?
- I think I witnessed four Love Connections.
- Garrett Hedlund (Friday Night Lights, Country Strong) is Tim McGraw's Truck Yeah sidekick.
- Tim did not sing live while we were shooting, but the song was blasted over and over and over. I found him more attractive in person than on screen, and if I was more of a rebel, I would've snuck a picture; but they production police scared me with their threats.
Our scene: Tim and Garrett are sitting on their truck's tailgait while we're all partying and having THE TIME OF OUR LIVES. All of a sudden, a red truck pulls up and a beautiful, brown-eyed brunette steps out. As she slowly and seductively walks toward Tim, the revelers part like the Red Sea to make room for her. She raises her hands and motions like she's calling someone, and six Fly Girls fall in behind her (as she walks off camera) and break into a fantastical street booty dance.
I told my new extra besties when I move like that, they'd know I was having a seizure.
So, after a dozen or more takes of the above, they cut us loose for a break, where we proceeded to wait TWO MORE HOURS only for production staff to decide they didn't need us anymore and we could go home.
I cannot WAIT to see the magical end result. The song is FUN and the production crew were professionals at what they did. It's sure to be a hit!
For the day's work, I think we earned $50 and I can now cross "Be featured in a music video" off my Bucket List. I'm fairly certain any footage with me in it will end up on the cutting room floor, but the experience itself was enough to make it worthwhile.
And at the end of the day, no matter my outfit or age or taste in music or whatever, I had fun making a memory and living the philosophy of the Traveling Red Dress.
Live like I was dyin'? Well, maybe not exactly, but I sure was out on a shaky limb.
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(1) Not that there's anything wrong with it. #namethatshow
(1a) For the record, my email said something like, "…though I realize I'm outside the age range, if you don't get a great response and have need to expand, this sounds like FUN and I'd love to be a part…"
(1b) Can someone PLEASE tell me why in THE world it's common practice to say "Excuse my French" when injecting an expletive??
(2) Released in 1990; for the math-deficient, that's 22 years ago. Goodgoogliemooglie!
(3) I drive the opposite of a truck…you'd think that woulda been a clue.
(4) Capri's, people. I was the only extra on the set wearing CAPRI'S.
(5) Affiliate link used. With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need…and I might earn enough for a cup of coffee one day :).
(6) I kid you not, these were the names for the group of Beautiful People hired to sit around on the back of trucks and look beautiful. They did a really good job.