Glory days. The best years of your lives. Yeah, they usually are a daze.
When I was a kid, I thought high school was going to be like Grease, and college would be like Animal House. Boy was I wrong! With all due respect, I'm sure many people had some raunchy memories of their University days. I was a late bloomer, so the beer bashes and panty raids were pretty rare on my list of accomplishments during those years. Felicity practically made me seem like Mary Poppins.
Ah Felicity... one thing I did take away from that late 90s NYU-set dramedy on the WB was the image of the young and ambitious finding themselves in the Big Apple. It inspired me so much that after I got my degree in film studies from the University of Manitoba I enrolled in the New York Film Academy to pursue my dream of becoming a filmmaker.
The school set me up in an apartment in the East Village with another student –- another foreigner; a Brit, no less. My flatmate, Paul, was from Essex, England.
I remember being dropped off at the corner of 1st Ave and 13th Street, pressing the buzzer on the apartment block and hearing Paul's voice for the first time.
"Hi, uh, my name is Mike. I'm supposed to live with you."
We quickly got over that awkward hump of a first meeting and our friendship blossomed. We were close in age and bonded over both being foreigners in the Big Apple. He had been in the city for a few weeks beforehand so he got me acquainted with the neighbourhood. But it didn't take long for me to surpass him as the American culture guru.
"Why do these people like to dress up their pets?" he asked me.
I had to be honest with him. "I don't know. They do the same in Canada."
I swear it was the blind leading the blind.
But the greatest bit of awkwardness came when he came home one day and muttered the now-famous words, "Boy I had the weirdest day..."
It turned out Paul had been approached on the street and offered a modelling contract. He was asked if he could bring in some photos of himself. Of course, he didn't have any, so he came up with the brilliant idea of me (!) taking some shots of him in our apartment that night. I didn't want to burst his bubble and cynically tell him that they probably approach hundreds of people every day on the street. The odds of actually being selected were quite slim. But we were two young turks in the land of opportunity and I think I wanted his dream to realize just as much as he did. Besides, he was a pretty good-looking guy. Tall, blonde... and that accent didn't hurt.
So I agreed to take pictures of him.
He fixed himself up, we set up some lights in an empty white-walled corner, he struck a pose, and I clicked away with my disposable camera. The year was 2002, a year after 9/11, but more importantly a year after the movie Zoolander (2001) had been released, so there was plenty of "Blue Steel" running through those images. Once "Jenny from the Block" came on the radio, I got into the rhythm of things: "Okay look up at me, okay now look over your shoulder, now look surprised, lean up against the wall, put your hands behind your head..."
I was living my dream as a director... although not exactly the project I had envisioned. But life takes many unplanned detours.
After the roll of film was finished, Paul thanked me for my troubles and dropped it off at the one hour developing shop.
The next day he came home again to say that the agency loved the pictures. They asked him where he got them done and he told them we did it in our apartment. They were very impressed. They couldn't believe how professional the photos looked considering they were done with a disposable camera. I was flattered and excited, and for a very brief moment I wondered if my career would take a sharp left turn into becoming Paul's personal photographer -- but alas, those "dreams" did not surface.
Paul and I parted ways a few weeks later. He went back to England and I went back to Canada. He did get signed by the agency. They hired him a personal trainer and were going to give him some work in London, but I never found out what happened. I don't know if he modelled for a few years or found out it wasn't for him. I'll never know. Paul and I haven't spoken since.
I never became a famous director, nor a photographer for that matter. But every time I hear J.Lo, I reminisce about that one crazy night. A daze indeed.
Glory Daze, the new TBS comedy, airs Tuesdays at 10/9c. The show, which follows a group of friends as they navigate college life in 1980s Wisconsin, features all sorts of crazy scenarios that seem to only come about during those years of early adulthood.
Besides offering up a great prize pack to promote the show, TBS is also looking to hear as many crazy and unreal college stories as possible. If yours is good enough, it might even make a future episode of the show! So be sure to leave your best stories in the comment section below.
ShowbizMonkeys.com was not compensated in any way for this post. The prize pack is being provided by Turner.