(HOST) Commentator Willem Lange has been dreaming of a film career. His wife has not.
(LANGE) It was a week before Christmas. Everything in the house was ready: clean as a whistle. The little balsam out on the sun porch was all decorated. Mother had about her the aura of someone whose tax records are ready in January.
There was, however, something she didn’t know. Something I had failed to tell her. But it had to be told sooner or later. So I mentioned it quite casually: “Oh, there’s a small film crew coming here in a couple of days to shoot a commercial. Nothing major. I’ve been rehearsing the script. That’s what you heard when you thought I was talking to myself upstairs.”
“How could you agree to do it here, just before Christmas? Can’t it be somewhere else?”
“Well, it’s certainly handy here, and the light’s good. We’ll do it on the sun porch. Shouldn’t take long. I mean, 30 seconds; what’s that? We’ll wrap it up in an hour.”
On the appointed day a fleet of vehicles, including a large box truck, backed up to the garage and began to disgorge equipment. I counted seven people. Mother retreated into her office with the dog and closed the door firmly.
I showed the director the sun porch. He rejected it. Too much natural light. He issued obscure orders, and his assistants began to prepare the set. Their cleated boots left tracks. The dog growled and barked in the office. Out in the yard, a young man on a high step ladder set up a large light to shine in the diningroom window. Another one on the sun porch roof blanketed the big window high on the living room wall. Two of them screwed together a rectangular metal frame and set up a dark sunshade.
Mother came out to see what all the noise was. This time when she left, she closed the office door very firmly. I followed her to speak some soothing words. When I returned, I told the crew, “This is going to cost you big time.”
The cherry dining room table in the background disappeared, laid on its side in the kitchen. I was gratified to see they’d cushioned it with a couple of pillows. After two hours, it appeared we were ready to film something. Some hours later, I had demonstrated and extolled the virtues of a nifty gadget. Then, feeling like a traitor, I fled the scene to get back to work, leaving the film crew to dismantle their set.
Turned out later that Mother had rallied, as I’d prayed she would. One of the crew went for pizza, and she and the dog joined them at the now-restored dining room table. I guess they had a good time; she said she apologized for acting grumpy. The house was almost as it had been. Mother was, too. We’d be together for Christmas, after all.
This is Willem Lange up in Etna, New Hampshire, dreaming of working in Hollywood.
Willem Lange is a carpenter, writer and storyteller who lives in Etna, New Hampshire. He spoke to us from our studio in Norwich.