Not long ago I was a man stooped in misery. I was well into my thirties, loveless, flubbery in belly and cheek, burdening my parents by sharing their roof, grossly in debt to the Big Banks and just about holding down an agonisingly demoralising position as a ‘company outreach communications official’ for a third-rate car insurance company (cold caller, or ‘scum on legs’ to you).
As you will imagine, I was having a hard time getting from day to day, often with so small a hope of a brighter future as to think about… you know…. reading the Vedas and becoming a devout Buddhist Monk. If you care in the slightest about the well-being of a character whom you will most likely never meet, you might be pleased to know that I didn’t get that far. Right before I did something stupid, I stumbled upon a sumptuous banquet of luck.
I was out bowling rails-up at the Laser Tag Sector 7 bowling alley, Clifton Boulevard, out on Redfield way with my friend Kevin, as I often do to take the edge off the horrors of daily life. Purely by chance, a number of movie directors had entered a team and were playing on the lane next to me. At first they wanted my help in elevating those sweet side-rails, so I went over. Before I got to the machine Scorsese tapped me on the shoulder, mouth agape and turned to Tarantino saying ” Tazza, I think we’ve found our man.”
Next I found myself strapped in to the exalting leather seat of a private jet and was soaring over the Atlantic, Los Angeles-bound. The role was a star one- a charming professional poker player who secretly works for the government, spying on Russian charlatans and generally keeping the peace in badass fashion. My character, operating under the pseudonym of ‘Martin Roggle’ throughout the picture, ends up getting it together with Natalie Portman. Texas Soldem Down the River went down a dream, grossing higher than Avatar on its first few weeks, a movie which critics said ‘wasn’t very good in comparison’. I replaced my old dull friend Kevin with the likes of Brad, Dustin and Robby D, bowling with them instead, rails-down (which at times seemed impossible but I soon got used to it).
My newfound fame and prestige brought me great confidence. I frequented the gym, shed the flab and got jacked, putting me in prime position to start relations with a supermodel girlfriend, whom I promptly bought a mansion for, married and got with children.
I received a phone call from Joe Rogan’s agent, inviting me to go on his podcast. I accepted. ‘It feels wonderful to have made it’, I thought, as I sipped my cool margarita, lying on my sun lounger by the pool, with Moby.
I had to double take when I saw the ref come into view, gesturing a TV screen to the third official. My spine went hot and I devoured both nail and cuticle.
On my knees praying to the Lord, I watched him until he pressed his ear piece in, nodded, blew the whistle and waved his arm in the opposite direction.
And that was that. And there I was. Sad, chubby, sweaty and back in the Safecars Direct offices in Ruddington with a 72 page backlog of phone numbers on the screen in front of me, clutching a telephone and I’ll be terribly honest with you; I wished it was a gun.