Dearest Yenta

Yenta is a Yiddish word for matchmaker. I discovered the term while watching Fiddler on the roof on Broadway. There is a song/dance routine inspired by the Yenta. In film school, I too gained a Yenta card. However, I didn’t stand in line for the card, it fell in my wallet.

During my senior year, I had to direct a scene for (surprise, surprise) a directing class. We picked a scene from our choice film and brought it to life using real actors.

The films of Wes Anderson have always sparked my interest. I love his use of quirk, dark humor and overall directing style. Therefore, a scene from the Royal Tenenbaums would be my choice. I picked a scene, which involved romance between a brother and sister.

I had to hire passionate actors who could pull off such a fete. For the male character, I asked my personal trainer Will to star. He excitedly accepted. The challenge was then to find an actress. Through a friend, I had a reference to a theatre major, Jenna. With both actors in place, I was ready to direct.

We did a cold reading. Then came the actual rehearsals. I secured a classroom in the theatre department. They both displayed great pathos as they brought the characters to life.

The scene called for kissing. They smooched. Then they asked to rehearse the kiss again. I politely go “sure.” Something dawned on me; they’re enjoying making out way too much.

By the time, they performed the scene for my class; there was a certain passion I don’t typically see on stage. It then dawned on me; I think these two just fell in love.

Six years later, Will and Jenna dated and are getting married this coming weekend. Little did, I know my directorial debut would lead to marriage. I haven’t fulfilled anymore of Yenta duties. However, If I start singing “matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match” they may comeback to me.

My Life As An Indie Film

The VHS of my life as a teen would look like a cross between a hip looking Sophia Coppola film with the quirk of Wes Anderson. Cool cinematography, quirky but lovable characters & some stupid assholes make up the color & pageantry in “Mr. Alas’ teenage angst.”

In the grand tradition of social outcasts in suburbia, I grew up in a conservative sandwich. Catholic school, Christian church & lots of leftist political views made up the meat. My mom & I were emotionally similar, but politically & socially different. I was obviously a liberal & she, a conservative. There were many strict rules in the house. Madonna, hip-hop & inappropriate films went out the window.

Of course, I had a secret stash of gay literature, inappropriate music & leftist newspapers to keep me in the rebellious side of life. Surprisingly, my mom secretly yearned to leave her very conservative bubble. Rescuing her from the close-minded bubble became the challenge of my youth.

“London looks just like Charles Dickens novel,” she said this while glaring out the window, while driving from Heathrow to Central London. She pictured London like Disneyland, everything colorful & newly developed. Well yes, if newly developed means built during the Tudor era, then it is brand spanking new. Like many new & foreign concepts, it took her a while to warm up. However, after a few days in the city that she dismissed as old & dirty, she fell in love with London. We had a wonderful time going to museums, the Tower of London & the theatre.

After we came back from the States, she found a new church with very conservative views. Especially being gay, they’re anti-gay messages didn’t sit well with me. Instead of conforming to the church’s narrow views, I stayed true to my gay old self. She didn’t love it. I always knew she respected it.

The musical Rent represented many segments of urban life. AIDS, cross dressing, homosexuality were elements of the musicals, all things my mom’s church turned their backs on. However, I took a chance & invited her to see “Rent” on stage. Surprisingly, she accepted my invite.

We sat top balcony & I glanced over at mom. She didn’t fold her arms in disgust. Instead she sang along a bit with the songs & even shed a couple tears toward the end. Overall, neither one of us were musical fans, but we had a remarkably beautiful experience.

Unfortunately, my mom died in 2004. Of course, we disagreed on plenty of subjects. However, the maternal bond stayed strong. It’s not ever easy to deal with a parent’s death. I still miss her. I don’t like to look bad sadly. I take a more positive spin. I was a quirky guy who loved his blue blazer, hated social norms & adored indie films. As an adult, I wear more, black, hate social norms & love indie films, especially documentaries.