Thursday, January 05, 2006

Story Time with Uncle Leab: The Girl from Wales

Let's step into the way back machine. It's the summer between my Junior and Senior year. I have been hired by a now defunct theatre company called Actors Renaissance Theatre (or ART for short). As a stage manager/prop guy/lighting bitch (my actual term was Master Electrician, but with the lighting designer I was working with, lighting bitch was more apt), I spent alot of time around the actors and almost never left the Theatre. During our second show (True West), the actress playing the mother (and would be a main actress in the next production) receives a letter from the INS. It seems that Theresa, a citizen of Wales, had sent in her work visa a day late. Yup, one day late. This meant she might be booted from the country. That's a problem. Theresa doesn't want to leave. "All my stuff is here, dammit!" she tells me. She talks to a lawyer (who happened to be married to another cast member. You have to love freebies) and asked for help.
"There is some paper work we can fill out. We have two weeks. If we don't get it done, you'll have to leave...or we'll need another idea."
I'm in the theatre being the lighting bitch...sorry, master electrician...when the artistic director comes in to talk to me.
"Leab. Come here for a sec."
As he says this, he neglects to notice I am holding a light and ten feet in the air.
"," I find myself saying.
After a few moments, I'm able to get down.
"What do you need, Nic?" I ask.
"Are you still single?"
Most of the people I'm working with are aware of my situation. I'm a drunk. I've bounced through a few different gals since losing the perceived love of my life, and I'm currently covered in hickies thanks to a visiting gal pal ( a beautiful Louisiana girl who I was nowhere near worthy of).
"Yeah. I don't have a sig ot (significant other) right now."
"Good," Nic responds. "I may need a favor."
"What's that?"
"Are you aware of Theresa's situation?"
Nic then proceeds to tell me how Theresa may be deported.
"So what do you want from me?" I ask.
"Would you be willing to help Theresa stay in the country? We REALLY need her."
"How....Uh, how could I help?"
"Well, she would need an American spouse."
It's at this point that the mechanism in my head clicks into place:
I have nothing against this woman. She's a lovely gal with a quirky sense of humor and only twenty-two years my senior.
The problem is I do not want to be in a sitcom.
The American guy marries the Welsh woman to keep her in country....Wait till the in-laws visit!
This becomes a little joke among my friends as well.
"Dead man walking," one gal tells me. "This man's getting married."
To be safe, Theresa and I meet on a Thursday.
"I guess," she begins," we should learn everything about each other in case they come and ask us."
"Where do we start?"
The next few hours involve me telling her about my family, her telling me about her father as well as how her mother died, and finally concocting a story about how we met (working on a show), our first date (dinner on the Hill), and our first kiss (in the park near the lake).
Three days later her lawyer returns with the news, "you can stay," which is great, because I really do not want to be married and in college.
For the rest of that year (not the summer, YEAR), I was made fun of by colleagues and friends.
At one point, ART attends an end of summer banquet all St. Louis theatre companies attend. It's placecard seating.
I end up next to Theresa, of course.
Halfway through the award ceremony, we are called to stand up for a round of applause on our marriage.
We have to tell everyone the entire story we concocted "just in case."
It's...slightly embarrassing, but more over it is strange watching these people hang on my everyword as I explain how I was prepared to commit a crime.

The last I heard, Theresa went back to Wales. Her father had died and left her everything including a house and farm. She went back to attend to it. I never heard from her again after that summer.
So much for fake true love.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

You know, that kind of story is eerily common among my people. Congratulations. You have been officially Welshed.