I'm a 40-something intern in Hollywood. I know. For some of you, that may sound like a fate worse than death. Others may applaud my moxie for taking a chance at the mid-point of my life. (Who's got two thumbs and is clutching to her dream like an oxygen tank? This broad!) Others may find it sad and pathetic. But if you're a writer like me, you're thinking about how to work this premise into a TV show. Maybe I'm a "Must See Thursday" 90's sitcom about a plucky middle-aged intern who gets into trouble with her weird co-workers and crotchety boss. My catch phrase is "At least it's not Cleveland." Cue laugh track. Or maybe I'm an inspiring tale about a woman who picks up the pieces from her shattered, downsized lifestyle. "She went from expense accounts to counting pennies. A Mid-Woman Night's Journey airs Sunday nights on Lifetime." Maybe I'm a grizzled, post-9/11 heroine with a semi-relevant blog making observations on Facebook about the comic cruelties of life from her studio apartment. Truthfully, I'd prefer to be a 21st century Mary Poppins; a sophisticated, worldly woman who floats into an office each semester to be helpful and dispense some sage advice. Elizabeth Quinn is...Lady Intern. Lady Intern would be a classy yet cheeky show that BBC America developed at the last minute and is surprisingly popular with small town housewives. Ideally, she'd be played by one of the K/Cates -- Winslet or Blanchett.
Most days it's perfectly pleasant being a lady intern. I think my supervisors feel awkward telling me what to do since they're younger than me, but I don't mind. I complete every task with a smile and a professional attitude. I'm still learning how Hollywood works. But I find if you compare it to high school, you can figure out the appropriate response. Like when one of the executives (aka mean girl) got pissed because I read the latest draft of Cyclops: The Reckoning before she did. I apologized and then told her it was a brilliant move. "You found the last untapped monster in Hollywood. Genius!" She was appeased and I got to deliver a sarcastic slam without her knowing it. I can tell they feel bad sending me on errands, but I have no shame. I'll go pick up their sex toys if I have to, just to leave the office and get some fresh air. It's hard when I say things like, "Let's totally take over that empty office and create a new executive identity like Michael J. Fox did in The Secret of My Success," only to be met with blank stares by the other interns. Then I remember to be patient with them before I quote the entire movie word for word. Most of the time my age really isn't an issue. I think it's adorable when my boss lumps me in with the other interns who are "too young to remember parachute pants" or some other random fad. And he appreciates my initiative to clean up the storage room without being asked, while my younger counterparts wait to be told every little thing. Plus, I'm not afraid to defend why Sixteen Candles is better than The Breakfast Club.
Lady interns are a small sub-section of the internship world. Extremely small. Seriously, I may be the only one. If there is a second lady intern, our paths can never cross or the world will end. I don't know if gentlemen interns exist. They might be up there with unicorns. It would be great to meet one, though. Someone in his early- to mid-40's with most of his hair, and that Gen X fatalism hiding a deeply disappointed optimist. While burning DVDs for the boss, we share our disbelief at becoming middle-aged and how ridiculous it is that we're back in school. We bond over our pre-internet college years and how these kids today don't understand real angst or eye contact. "Remember Walkmans?" he asks. "Of course, I do, George." His name is George, by the way. We share knowing smirks every time an executive yells at their assistant, knowing how lucky we are to be immune to that crap. Then, he verbally asks me -- no texting -- to a 1980s retrospective at the Arclight. We lament how Hollywood would never make a movie like Fast Times at Ridgemont High today, and then trip out when the credits reveal that Lana Clarkson was Mrs. Varga. THE Lana Clarkson, who was murdered by Phil Spector. Whoa. Then, like the sweetest John Hughes movie, we share a kiss over the mini bottle of wine we snuck into the theatre with us.
Well, I gotta run. Those cappuccinos and finger massagers won't deliver themselves.