Dear Reader: I wrote this piece a few years ago, however, considering who I believe are the REAL stars of Hollywood today, I think it really is apropos at this time. Mommi is an up-and-coming star!
“Little” Mommi, the Movie Star
By Dr. Diane Cypkin,
Media, Communication, and Visual Arts
“Don’t forget, when it comes to billing, her name is ‘Little’ Mommi.”
It had been a while since I’d been able to do any film work. Unfortunately, my mother was ill for many years and I was her caregiver . . . So, the call I received from a well-known casting office was very welcome. They wanted to know if I was available to work the following day on the set of a movie being produced by a BIG company. They also especially wanted to know if I could bring Mommi. I eagerly said, “Yes!” With that, as soon as I hung up the phone I called to ask my brother. You see, Mommi lives with him. Laughing, he simply asked, “What time do you need her?’ “I’ll tell you tonight,” I answered.
In sum, at 5 A.M. the following day I drove over to my brother’s place and there in the shadowy morning they were, waiting. I decided to take my car–even though it meant an additional expense—because I felt Mommi should go in style. After all, this was going to be her film debut. Besides, it was hot and she’d be more comfortable in an air-conditioned car.
I was sure my brother had told Mommi where she was going. But it didn’t appear to me as if she were very much impressed by the whole thing. In fact, standing there, she looked her usual unruffled, demur self-assured self . . . Then again, she always seems to have much more important things on her mind than my brother or I ever do . . .
I opened the passenger side door of the car. She jumped in and rushed over to me. She’s always happy to see me. I’m kind to her and that really counts in her book. It was at that point while we—Mommi and I—were greeting each other, that my brother distinctly reminded me that her name is “Little” Mommi should billing considerations arise . . . I promised to abide by his wishes.
My brother closed the car door and Mommi, surprised, immediately pressed herself up against the window. Used to being with him, she was, undoubtedly, worried when she realized my brother wasn’t coming along; or, to be more specific, why she was in the car and he outside the car. Indeed, as we drove away, and his image slowly receded into the half-light, I could hear her softly whimpering . . . Then, after a short while, resigned, she looked at me and relaxed. After all, Mommi probably thought, she did know me . . . It would surely be all right.
As we neared the designated “holding area,” a school at 92nd Street and Central Park West, I started looking for a parking lot. What luck, I spotted one just a block from the school AND, wonder of wonders, it had an “Early Bird Special: In at 6 A.M. out by 7 P.M.” only ten dollars and change. It was 10 minutes to 6! I quickly pulled in . . . to learn that for some unfathomable reason, surely lost in translation (the garage owner wasn’t a native English speaker) I wasn’t eligible for the special. To be honest, I still can’t figure out why??? But I refused to let it upset me. This was a special day, a beautiful day, a day of wonderful beginnings. Mommi and I got out of the car and I gave the key to the garage owner.
Even though I was early—the call was for 6:30 A.M.—I could see that the “crafty” food truck was already there and that they had set up breakfast. I approached and quickly scanned the food table to see if there was anything there to Mommi’s liking. I already ate breakfast and didn’t need another one. No. There really wasn’t anything right for her. I just took a Styrofoam cereal bowl for water. That was important . . .
We went into the school where I registered my attendance and was asked to fill out a form. I was a bit hurt that they didn’t ask anything about Mommi—not even her name. But maybe, I thought, they’d ask later? . . . I sat down. Actually, Mommi and I both sat down to await further instructions. In the meanwhile, others arrived: bicyclists, Frisbee throwers, children, men in suits who would obviously be portraying businessmen, and others like me with little and bigger companions.
I admit, I was a bit embarrassed when Mommi wouldn’t mingle with those other little and bigger companions who wanted to get to know her better. But that’s how she is. She doesn’t like sniffers, barkers, or any combination of the two. Consequently, she quickly ran behind me when big and beautiful Simba came over, the aristocratic Ebony, and that man-about-town Jack . . . And there was no changing her mind!
At about 7 A.M. we were all—about fifteen of us—walked to the “set”: a tree-lined path near the reservoir in Central Park. There, a member of the film crew quickly told us where to locate ourselves and what to do. It went something like: “You go here,” “You walk there,” “You throw your Frisbee here,” “You sit there.” At the same time, other members of the crew were ever-so-concernedly huddled about one of the stars of the film making sure his stunt worked just right. The film itself, I discovered, was a modernized version of a conglomerate of well-known fairy tales. And it seems that the star at this point had to jump off a miniature Japanese bridge crossing our path, heavily “be-cushioned” for the purpose. Was he “committing suicide” because he had been spurned by the film’s lady-love? Who knew? No one told us. After all, we were just “background.”
Now another, realizing that they were just “background,” might amateurishly have acted up—but not Mommi. She did her job when called upon. She took every opportunity to rest when it came. She drank her water. She minded her own business. She was already a real pro—like Simba, Ebony, and Jack.
Moreover, lunch couldn’t have pleased her more. The chef, enamored of Mommi’s charms—she does have the most expressive, sincere, big brown eyes—cut her some delicious pieces of beef. Oh, she more than loved it! She wanted more!
Yes, it was all quite wonderful—but for one other-worldly, terrifying moment right out of the Brother’s Grimm. Suddenly, out of nowhere a giant bird in the vulture/hawk category appeared in a tree right above us. I looked at this tremendous bird with its fierce talons, and then at “Little” Mommi . . . and got a horrible thought. Would this flying monster think Mommi was lunch? A tasty snack? A fine morsel on a sunny afternoon? I wasn’t going to wait to find out. I moved fast. I don’t remember which way . . . but at that moment I didn’t think about the camera, the lead actor, the BIG production company, or anybody else—just Mommi. Thankfully, this prehistoric intruder disappeared as abruptly as he had appeared. I took a drink of water.
We were “released” at 7:15 P.M. and Mommi couldn’t have been happier. She probably had an idea she’d be seeing my brother soon and the very thought of it brought her great joy. You could see it in her eyes, in the perkiness of her step, in her tail held proudly aloft. So, the film people hadn’t asked her name. So they didn’t care who she was. So she was just “background” to them. In her mind, the mind of “Little” Mommi, the eight pound Shih Tzu, she had always been and always would be a movie star!