Then I Watched Mark Whalberg Play Basketball for Five Minutes Before Breaking for Lunch

Yesterday and the day before, I found myself as a hired extra on the set of an upcoming Mark Whalberg film. Our set for this scene was the Galen Center, basketball stadium of the USC Trojans. A week prior, a contractor called my band director, asking if there were any volunteers eighteen or older of the band’s percussion section who could be a part of this movie. Out of the few eighteen-year-olds who were listed, they picked me to help balance out the mostly male dynamic.

When I got onto the set, six fifteen in the morning, I was baffled by the sheer size of the Center. High ceilings and halls with fantastic acoustics. Hair and makeup artists were set up all down the upper hallway.

I was directed into costume and told where to go, and in about an hour, I was in full face-paint, and had my hair teased and styled up into a Mohawk.

What really interested me, however, was the way people looked at me.

Before I was all painted up, just walking in wearing jeans and a v-neck, the people I passed, crew members and extras, looked at me with a keen interest. It was a kind of brief stare that conveyed some kind of curiosity that prior to this kind of all-adult situation, I had not experienced before. I mattered to someone. I became a person in the sight of strangers, and it was entirely liberating. No self-consciousness that comes so often in a high-school setting.

After telling this to my mother, she smiled, a bit of a laugh behind her tone, and said “Welcome to the adult world, and to life beyond High-School.”

Peculiar events. Peculiar feelings. But all felt comfortable, and connected, in a way.