Mohammad was profoundly upset. In the last few years, cancer has wruck havok within his family--it's too personal to him for me to relate; it's enough to say that a dysfunctional family's faultlines turned into chasms. So, of course he said to J. that we'd be there at his party, we'd be glad to support him.
Then a producer called to confirm. Then the producer called to make sure we'd be there at 8:30. I began to get nervous.
We arrived at the apartment. We kissed J. hello, and he suggested we go to the back of the apartment, where we'd be out of the way for the interim. We put our things down. "Quiet on the set."
On the windowsill I noticed a signed release form for extras. Some more people flooded in. Some came with winebottles; they opened them quietly, between takes. Everyone else seemed to know each other.
Mohammad spent the next half hour being calm, trying to understand what the hell had happened. Since I never go anywhere without a book, I read that, in-between trying to figure out what was going on.
And then we realized that we'd been lured on as extras to a shoot, that despite J.'s promises we weren't going to be able to talk to him. And so we left.
Both of would have been fine with filling in as extras to his party-scene. We could have worn more casual clothes, brought books, schooled ourselves in patience. I've been on plenty on student-film productions before; I know what it is. Also, we could have stayed a little longer had anyone bothered to tell us what was going on. J. seemed to want it both ways: a party and a shoot. It would be a miracle if he managed to accomplish both, after we left.