CHARLES S. DUTTON
You are: 1. A salesman back from a long road trip being welcomed by your wife in a particularly intimate way. 2. A small-business owner just realizing that your brother-in-law has been pocketing the profits. 3. A gambling addict, deep in debt to a ruthless bookie, urging your horse to pass the leader down the homestretch.
You are responding to a very dirty joke.
You are: 1. A fiftysomething veteran middle manager learning that a merger will cost you your job. 2. A high-school drama teacher watching the Academy Awards, hearing your name mentioned by an Oscar winner. 3. A woman scorned.
You are a man at a bar: 1. Overhearing another man telling his friend about your wife. 2. Realizing the conversation is actually about your sister-in-law.
You are: 1. A man listening to your wife and daughter scream at each other at Thanksgiving dinner. 2. A middle-aged tax accountant told by a beautiful young colleague that you’re “incredibly sexy.” 3. A C.E.O. who knows that the compensation committee is going to O.K. your massive raise. 4. A struggling restaurant owner confronting two protection-racket collectors: “That’s it, you bloodsucking bastards, not one more penny!”
You are: 1. A woman who thinks your husband has forgotten your birthday, walking into your house to find all your friends shouting, “Surprise!” 2. The mother of the bride, hearing your daughter say, “I do.”
You are: 1. A four-year-old letting the family’s pet parakeet out of its cage. 2. A four-year-old shutting out your mother’s angry reprimand after the bird flies out the front door. You are: 3. A man imploring your partner to come with you to visit your parents. 4. A man betrayed.
You are a retired cop who has just been told “Fuck you, Gramps” by a couple of young punks on the block.
You are an actor: 1. Hearing from your agent that, after weeks of callbacks and readings, you got the part. 2. Hearing the next day that the director has changed his mind and wants someone else instead.
You are: 1. A woman beginning to wonder if the man you’ve been dating for a year is just stringing you along. 2. The former class weirdo, now a rock star, in your limousine on the way to your high-school reunion. 3. A computer whiz who hacked into your English teacher’s files and has just aced the final.
“Where the fuck is the money?”
You are: 1. A pediatrician with a bright five-year-old cancer patient who is making up an intriguing fairy tale. 2. A senior senator giving a speech on the glory of the American way.
You are: 1. A woman talking with your girlfriends about boyfriends. 2. A young teenager seeing the love of your life kissing another girl.
You are: 1. A maximum-security-prison warden hearing that there’s a riot in C Block—two guards killed, four held hostage—and the ringleader is a multiple murderer serving four consecutive life sentences. 2. A desperate real-estate agent watching a buyer about to sign a contract for an overpriced white elephant: “Sign, don’t read; sign, don’t read … “
You are: 1. A 10-year-old taunted by your older brother’s friends. 2. The Wicked Witch watching the Scarecrow catch fire.
You are: 1. An elementary-school teacher on vacation, flirting with the cabana boy at your resort in Cancun. 2. A working mother coming upon your husband kissing the babysitter. 3. A woman who has just received the failing grades of your daughter in college after she’s been lying about how well she’s doing.
You are: 1. A deli owner, late at night, handing the day’s cash to a crackhead pointing a gun at your chest. 2. A big-time Mob gambler sending one of your goons to pay a visit to a college basketball player who broke an agreement to shave points: “I don’t want the kid dead. Just make sure he never plays ball again. Am I clear?”
1. You’re the ever obeisant wife of a charismatic televangelist, and you’ve just learned that a male prostitute is about to go public with his story of a years-long affair with your husband. 2. You’re a fabulously wealthy Fifth Avenue matron, greeting your building’s doormen—whom you never tip—with a cheery “Merry Christmas!” 3. You’re Barbara Walters, interviewing a recently divorced actress about her latest movie, suddenly going for the jugular with the question “Did it hurt more that he left you for a younger woman?”
1. You’re a geek flirting with a cheerleader, unaware that you don’t stand a chance. 2. You’re departing the nursing home where your wife resides; it is your first visit in which she didn’t recognize you. 3. You’re a college basketball coach, on the cusp of an N.C.A.A. tournament berth, screaming at the referee, knowing that if you’re ejected, your boys will turn it up a notch.
1. You’re a hyperkinetic eight-year-old drama queen at her birthday party, hearing that the clown has just arrived. 2. You’re a mom at your seven-year-old daughter’s ballet recital, watching her execute an adorably imperfect pirouette and an almost flawless curtsy. 3. You’re a high-school senior whose parents are at work, just about to have sex with your boyfriend for the first time, when your kid sister bursts into the room.
1. You’re a man whose daughter has been missing for two months. You’ve been called in by the police to identify the body of a young murder victim. The sheet is pulled back … and the victim isn’t your daughter. 2. You’re a boy at a freakish carnival, watching a pierced performer munch live cockroaches. 3. You’re a 14-year-old girl who’s just opened her 18-year-old sister’s bedroom door to find her having sex with her boyfriend.
1. You’re an ingénue actress, new to Hollywood. Your agent has just called to say you’ve been chosen for a role in a big movie … as George Clooney’s love interest. 2. You’re a construction worker having lunch with your buddies on the street in front of the job, calling out to a sexy woman passing by, “Hey, hon, wanna see what’s in my lunchbox?” 3. You’re a mid-level drug dealer with a big payment due to a Mob boss, getting the news from one of your street runners that he lost the big coke stash in, “like, a weird gust of wind.”
MARTIN LANDAU You are a man:
1. Seeing a shooting on your quiet, tree-shaded block in Brooklyn. 2. Hearing the speeches at your 50th-wedding-anniversary party.