She stands before me flashing a well-rehearsed smile. A Shirley Temple clone down to her pin curls and dimple. As a casting director for a laundry soap commercial I have seen at least thirty other girls since 9:00. I have been so busy assessing the 'talent' I haven't bothered to take one sip of my coffee and it lies before me with a skin formed from the cream. Like the AA member I am, I feel a force outside my control is creepily mocking my need for caffeine.
My co-worker flashes me his ferret grin to indicate he thinks this child is a keeper. I've taken note that George likes the girls who are blond and light-eyed, which leads me to assume the worst about him. It has been a given he is ill suited for this job. Now as he sweats next to me, I imagine him as the type of 'player' who would be all for six year olds getting breast implants.
I nod to the girl giving my permission for her to begin the line reading, but instead of, "Mommy this blanket is so soft" we hear her sing in a thin off-key voice, "Smile when you feel like crying."
"Stop," I say holding up my hand to emphasis the point. The child looks confused, which further confuses me. Has she not read the script while standing in the hall for the last two hours? Resisting sarcasm, "We need you to read the line as written. Begin."
"Smile when you…"
"Is this some kind of joke?" George asks, clearly no longer enamored.
"My Mommy told me to sing for you."
"Honey," I look on her sheet…"Rachel, this is a commercial for laundry detergent there is no singing required." Tears start to well up in her eyes.
I look away before announcing, "Next."