Faux Families in Your Neighborhood

Shannon Kernaghan clapboard-400 Faux Families in Your Neighborhood Adventure Belongings Career Challenge Culture Family Humor Lifestyle Parties Real Estate Relationship Sales

You have to admire a city that makes a living out of creating fantasy. I’m referring to Los Angeles – home to movie stars, Rodeo Drive, Universal Studios and a whole lot of hype.

There’s a new thrill for those who cruise through show homes to look for decorating tips or fresh digs. Dig this headline: “L.A. realtor uses actors to sell new homes, family dog not included.”

One development features a model house with a “faux” family where perspective buyers open the door to find a barefoot man in his 30s who shouts “Hello!” from the kitchen and offers juice to the shoppers’ children.

His friendly faux wife hands out cookies hot from the oven. On the counter is a birthday cake with candles and on the mantle are birthday cards.

Let’s get the kids in on this production: two adolescents invite shoppers to see their professionally decorated rooms.

These paid actors are hired to show how life could be for you and yours. Simply add a real family to this Betty Crocker mix.

My friend, a realtor for decades, has seen and heard it all and she learned early about the protocol for holding open houses.

First, you show up with your Open House sandwich board. If you’re smart, you arrive ahead of time to make sure the homeowners have shoveled the walk and emptied the dirty diaper pail. Sometimes you get stuck doing these doo-ties.

“This is intimate stuff,” the agent said. “It’s impossible to enter a home and not feel personal, especially when someone is sitting on the couch wrapped in a towel after their shower and the family dog is relieving itself against your car tire.”

Next came the tough love: “Take a hike, people,” she’d yell. “Buyers will be knocking on your door any moment now.” That gave her two advertised hours to do her job and find a keen buyer.

That’s the open house in theory. In reality, her day might take another turn.

One of those wrong turns was when she held her first open house. She described the adorable homeowners, a couple in their early 100s who were anxious to downsize.

But my agent friend soon realized they weren’t going anywhere. They planted their large arthritic selves in the small living room and waited. They were going to “help” her make a sale.

They created zero L.A. ambience, unless buyers wanted to picture themselves as elderly and slow moving. Sensible shoes a prerequisite.

After a quick tour of the house, one man with an accent started to pull on his boots to leave.

“Can I answer any more questions for you?” my agent friend asked.

“No thanks, I’m looking for a home with a separate dining room.”

“Where he comes from they eat on dirt floors,” called out Mr. Helpful Homeowner, “and now he wants a dining room?”

Much like that full diaper pail, her new-agent smell was turning sour.

As for L.A., the best offshoot from this show home innovation is that emerging actors can land temporary jobs and stretch their skills.

And this gives “dinner theatre” an entirely new spin. Sure, the audiences are smaller and there’s a whole lot of scene repetition around the kitchen table, but it’s a gig.

And . . . action!

Audio backing track
“Licklee”
by
The Vandals

Cave Comedians Rock!

Shannon Kernaghan cave-club-drawing-450 Cave Comedians Rock! Career Comedy Culture Drinking Food Fun Humor Parties Read Along

My husband and I watched an old episode of “Seinfeld,” one with comedy highlights from the many years the series ran.

“This is hilarious stuff. Every little bit is funny,” I said. 

“That’s because you’ve already seen the episodes and know the characters,” Paul answered. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t make sense.”

I was about to do what I usually do when challenged – argue – but he was correct. Comedy, much like calculus or Shakespeare, is difficult to understand or appreciate unless you start at the beginning. In other words, you need the Seinfeld 101 course before you can progress to your PhD in HaHa.

While our tastes change, I bet we haven’t altered much over the eons, at least in the way we enjoy laughter and entertainment. 

Stop and think about our early ancestors, those cave dwellers who lived before the invention of the wheel. What do we really know about them? We can only guess what made them laugh out loud, or hoot and holler with chimp-like shrieks. For all we know, they watched stand-up comedians like we do at Yuk Yuks today.

I’d love to be a primordial fly on the cave wall when the first act took place at a rock stage near you: “Thank you, thank you very much. So where y’all from? That crater by the lava flow? I didn’t think any vertebrates still lived there [nervous giggling, hairy foot shuffling] . . . I just flew in from the tar pits and are my knuckles ever tired!”

Now comes the sound of applause or grunts of satisfaction. Hard to tell whether the register is delight or anger, with those prominent jaws and swept-back foreheads.

From the back, a heckler growls something off-color. 

“What’s that, your knuckles don’t drag? Sheesh, there’s a Neanderthal in every cave!” More applause and some supportive rock throwing ensues.

The show ends on familiar note: “You’ve been a great crowd, thanks for coming to Kruk Kruks. Be good to your servers – no hair pulling. And look out for those sabre-tooth tigers on your way home.”

Audience members pull on their animal hides and claim their clubs at the door. The Comedy Cave quickly empties. 

Then, everyone makes a quick (tar) pit stop before queuing up for the drag-through window of the nearest Golden Arches. A Big Mammoth, pterodactyl nuggets, name your poison. Whatever gets you through the Paleolithic night.

With six million years of evolution under our gene pool belt there’s an undeniable amount of variation, but those hominid similarities do exist. We had “Seinfeld,” they had “Trog.”

I’ll never gaze into a campfire the same way again. And I’ll never take my handy canister of Wet Ones for granted, thanks to our ancestors who were there at the dawn of intelligence.

To all of you cave comedians, you rock!

Audio version song “Fancy”
by
Saidbysed

I Need a Dentist, Not a Survey

Shannon Kernaghan I-Need-Dental-Work I Need a Dentist, Not a Survey Adventure Career Challenge Fashion Fun Humor Lifestyle Memoir Memories Parties Read Along Travel

I never forward chain letters or dire warnings that turn out to be hoaxes.  

But when a friend from Ottawa sent me a “Four things about me” email, my interest was piqued. She likes to watch TV crime shows, for example. And I’d forgotten that she’d traveled to Africa.

Not only did I enjoy reading her responses, I started filling in a few of my own.

I don’t suggest you take too much time from your day for questionnaires, especially if you’re the dentist scheduled to fill my tooth this afternoon. Please, I want you to concentrate on my molar, not your catamaran trip to the Galapagos Islands. 

Here goes . . . Four jobs I’ve had:

1. lingerie model
2. product demonstrator
3. realtor
4. bartender

Lingerie modeling was exciting and filled with crazy chaos; it also required too much attention to detail. Every part of me had to be polished and my appearance was always under scrutiny. How tiresome. And I would never be tall enough or attractive enough to make the pages of Vogue, although I had a fun run.

Fortunately I never fell off any dimly lit stages although my catwalk days are long over – I’m currently balancing a bag of frozen peas on my shin after walking into my own coffee table!

My product demonstrator career lasted one week. It’s difficult to sell an expensive manicure kit and it’s disheartening to hear “No thanks” all day. Total sales? Only one. I bought it out of guilt, considering I quit before the promotion ended. Lessons learned? Again, only one. Stay in school.

Working as a licensed real estate agent gave me confidence. Move over, manicure kit, a house was a big ticket item to sell. When purchasers invited me for dinner in their newly constructed homes and everybody was smiling, I loved my career.

But when their homes weren’t ready on time and those once-smiling customers had no place to live for a month, I felt less delighted. My ringing phone began to give me anxiety.

As for bartending, I enjoyed the high energy parties and celebrations but grew tired of dealing with of inebriated people. Drunks can get cranky and unreasonable. Wish I could still remember how to make a flaming Pousse Café.

See? There’s plenty you can discover about people. 

How about  . . . Four places I’ve been:

1. Cap Haitien, Haiti
2. Miami – both Florida and Manitoba
3. Minsk, Belarus
4. Cal-Nev-Ari, which borders California, Nevada and Arizona.

In Haiti, our tour guide had an artificial foot that spun in circles when he walked. Sometimes the foot locked in a backwards position and he’d realign it by a swift kick with his other foot.

In Cal-Nev-Ari, every second resident owned a small place. Their garages were plane hangars and their neighborhood streets were designed as runways. Paul and I explored the area for a month, which included a casino Christmas party with fascinating and off-the-grid locals.

There are more categories to this survey but I have to see a dentist about a tooth. Maybe I should add teeth to the survey under: Four things that need better care!

Your Resting Bitch Face Scares Me!

Shannon Kernaghan resting-bitch-face-400 Your Resting Bitch Face Scares Me! Adventure Career Challenge Challenges Humor Memoir Read Along Risk Teambuilding

Can’t we all just get along? No. At least not at work.

An online poll of 2,000 adults revealed that 22% despise their colleagues. That’s strong language!

Cranky people obviously responded to the poll. Those who enjoy arranging staff birthday parties and NONE OF US IS AS STRONG AS ALL OF US teambuilding events are too busy for polls. Either way you slice the birthday cake, that’s a whole lot of despising.

There’s more: one third of the respondents had quit their jobs to escape undesirable co-workers. The word “obnoxious” was bandied about like helium balloons.

“The office is a lot like a family,” says Franke James with officepolitics.com. “And nobody knows how to push our buttons like a brother or sister.”

My siblings are scattered across several provinces. We all get along just fine. Then again, my sister isn’t stealing my three-hole punch and my brother isn’t dropping cruller crumbs into my computer keyboard.

But there have been a few peeps I’d place in that 22 percentile. Please join me in the Wayback Machine, to when I worked at a sales job.

I watched a male co-worker slam down the phone and cartwheel across the room, ecstatic after closing a deal. I clapped and congratulated Dave as he bounced off walls. (I’m not exaggerating; he did a series of side kicks like the Lucky Charms leprechaun.)

Our boss walked past me and I blurted out, “Dave just made a big sale, isn’t that great?” This was followed by lots of rah-rahing and back patting. The mood was charged.

The minute our boss left the room, Dave strode over to me with a loaded index finger and a florid tinge to his face. Then he started to snort. “Who the hell are you to announce my news?  I’ll make the announcements when I’m good and ready. Got it?” His resting bitch face scared me.

“Oh-kay . . . got it.”

The mood was no longer charged. Dave must have missed the inter-office memo on teamwork. Then again, I shouldn’t have rained on his Lucky Charms parade. Who knew being a cheerleader was so hazardous.

Cold comfort? My over-the-top colleague was soon fired for pulling the same explosive stunt on another supportive co-worker. This time the boss was watching.

Thanks to the dismal statistics and my tramp down memory lane, I’m nervous. When I show up for the next staff meeting I’ll wonder if 22% of the boardroom despises me. I’d better keep the lid clamped down on my cheerleading charm. Better yet, maybe I won’t go.

Nah, I’ll go, and not because I’m brave. There might be birthday cake.

*Note* Backing track in Your Resting Bitch Face audio story  is
“The Rising Cost of Living” by Lyndon Scarfe.

Hollywood, Here I DON’T Come!

Shannon Kernaghan Star_Hollywood-Here-I-DONT-Come_Kernaghan Hollywood, Here I DON’T Come! Adventure Career Challenge Fun Humor Lifestyle Memoir

I know why I’m not a Hollywood celebrity – I don’t have “star drive,” that necessary trait for a person to succeed on the stage or screen. I also lack another key factor: talent.

Sure, I’ve made my lukewarm forays into the world of acting. Years ago, I took a few script reading and improv courses. And while living on the west coast, I did extra work in a dozen series and several movies.

When I read about an audition for a local filmmaker, I blew the dust off my skimpy acting resume. Although no pay was involved, the challenge sounded like fun and I scheduled an appointment to read at a nearby hotel.

After memorizing my lines, I skipped to that audition. But reading lines at your mirror doesn’t compare with doing the scene across from a stranger. When it was my turn to read, the script sounded completely foreign in my ears. I stammered and stumbled.

If bungling my lines wasn’t bad enough, my confidence plummeted when the director suggested I try again. “But this time,” he said, “don’t move around so much, and try to be more . . . quiet.”

“More quiet, okay, sure,” I said, wearing an idiot grin. What really went through my mind was, “What did I just do, flail my arms and shout?” At that surreal point, all I could focus on was remembering my lines and staring at the adorable scriptwriter, the one who read the other character’s lines. In the story, I was supposed to be his mother.

“I WISH I had a son as cute as you,” I thought, and then realized I’d spoken aloud as the group started laughing. Laughing is too strong; make that awkward chuckling. Not only was I a bad actor, I felt like Mrs. Robinson, surrounded by a crew young enough to be my children.

Surprise, surprise, I didn’t get the part. I couldn’t even give away my gratis acting services.

While leaving the hotel, I had a flashback: I was doing extra work at a rundown movie set in Vancouver. After pulling off a shapeless dress three sizes too large from wardrobe, I sighed at the end of a long night. The actors and crew were cranky, the bag lunches were stale, and someone yelled at me during a take when my shoes made scrunching noises on the dirty floor. Plus, I wanted to tell the actor playing an FBI agent to stop mumbling and speak up!

The highlight of the shoot was when a camera fell and knocked a man unconscious. I remember thinking, “This two-bit series will NEVER get off the ground. What a dump.”

That two-bit series? The X-Files, listed as one of the longest-running science fiction series at 12 seasons. Turns out the mumbling agent Mulder was played by David Duchovny and I was in the pilot with him.

The truth is out there: I’m a bad actor. Time to shelve my dreams of a Hollywood star and stick to writing, where I can invent my own characters and flail my arms until the cows come home. Or shout until I’m blue in the face. Pick a cliché and I’ll be there. With bells on.

The backing track on the audio version is 
“Three Kinds of Suns” 
by Norma Rockwell