by Mitch McGuire
The swap-out is ruined and whatever intern charred the Jesus Christ out of the little Cornish game hens is gonna get it from me when we’re done taping. I can’t let it register with anyone though. I should still put Vaseline on my teeth like my mom used to make me do for giving our spiel selling nonstick pans at state fairs—you can’t ever stop smiling. It’d be useful. Television cameras catch every little emotion your face lets slide. Then any asshole with computer skills can slow it down and freeze frame you grimacing for half of a goddamn split second when you take a sip of something you made that turned out gross, upload it to YouTube, and get a million views.
I don’t mean to let myself get so snippy with people; I just can’t help it. As long as I can hold the warm smile it doesn’t really matter if my eyes read a little cold. I’m not looking forward to pulling the swap-out from the oven and showing the world those shriveled little things. I wish cocktail time came at the beginning of the show, it would probably be easier to get through the rest of the taping without screaming. I massage the ranch powder into the tiny raw bird, digging my French tips into it’s cold nubby skin while I talk about the expedience of powdered dressing mixes for all sorts of things. Pretend it’s your best friend and you can’t wait to tell them an amazing secret- that was mom’s angle with the pans. It really can work, but you’ve got to kind of love those pieces of shit in the audience.
The life coach my producer had me see after I threw the cranberry chutney told me to close my eyes and breath in for four, hold for four, and breathe out for eight. It’s hard to find that much dead space while I’m taping—I have to fill it all with patter to make sure the folks watching don’t get bored. I wish there was enough time in a commercial break for two cigarettes. I wish a life coach could prescribe Xanax. I can’t even think about flinching when I pull the burnt birds out. Just pretend they’re perfect. Voila!