The whole thing is one big mistake.

He finds himself saying this on the phone, much later, lightly wailing about how it is all unfortunate, not ironic, just another dead weight fuck-up around his shoulders. He feels quite, quite depressed by the whole process.

He wonders whether he will ever make a name for himself as an actor, wonders whether it is because he has not established an identity for himself or whether it is because he does not yet know who he is. He wonders whether his flitting between being bearded and not marks him out as a chameleon or whether it just flags up his indecision.

Back to the beginning of this little saga, and saga is the right word because this kind of shambolic episode could serve as a microcosm for his life, where it should be explained that the original beard was accidental. Not perhaps a mistake, but not really intended – a product of laziness. The beard sat there and the same laziness that allowed it to grow in the first place left the actor with no drive to remove it once it had taken root. He had some vague feeling that it was a parasite, and in one very lucid half-awake early morning daydream he posited the theory that the beard was in fact the reason for his laziness, was sucking up all of his energy to grow bigger, longer, fuzzier. This type of vivid imagining was typical of his shambolic path through life on a wave of consciousness, in which the real world was obscured by fictional events.

The beard was still in-situe when he went for the audition, an audition for which he held out little hope due to his parasite-induced laziness, and subsequent low morale with regards his career and talent. As soon as the audition was over he pretty much forgot everything about it, but afterwards he was gripped by an energy which he had not felt for a while, the kind of rousing empowerment which does not last long enough to ever be truly effective.

It was long enough for him to decide that the beard must go. Soon the sink was full of hair and his face was fresh and clean again. He followed up this success by filling in his tax return, applying for some part time jobs, arranging to visit some friends.

Then he heard back about the audition.

The phone call came a lot sooner than he had expected, and the news was different from the kind he had expected so, to summarise, both of the elements of the call – the timing and the content – were unexpected.

To cut a short story shorter still, the play for which the actor had attended an audition was about post-apocalyptic survival in the Arctic and the despondent, lived-in quality he unintentionally presented was what had attracted the producers of the play to pick him ahead of the other attendees of the audition.

It should be noted that the actor was at that point so despondent and lived-in that he was utterly unaware of the fact that he was exuding just such a quality, and thus he was utterly unaware of the fact that this quality of his was seen as a tremendous asset in the circumstances. Had he been aware that his despondent, lived-in quality was an asset in this situation, it may have detracted from the effect he was subconsciously creating, thus making his despondent, lived-in quality seem inauthentic, lessening the impact of the impression he made on the producers of the postapocalyptic Arctic survival play.

Over the phone, the producer congratulated him.

The producer praised the way he had acted with the whole of his despondent, lived-in body.  But he also praised the actor’s look, most importantly his beard, which the producer said was just the kind of thing they had been looking for, and it was only when he said this that the now beardless actor realised just how long he had been growing his beard for and also, as the beard had become symbolic of such things, just how long he had been feeling so utterly despondent.

He hung up on the producer, feeling despondent again. But this was a different type of despondency, the wrong kind of despondency. Not the kind of despondency suitable for portraying post-apocalyptic Arctic survival.

The whole thing is one big mistake.

He says it over and over whilst he is on the phone to one of his friends, explaining how depressing he finds the whole thing, how tiring it is to constantly display this level of ineptitude.


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