i might date barney

please don’t laugh

Being an actor.

Sometimes it takes all the dignity you have.

Over the weekend Eric found out that he had an audition to be Barney. The voice of Barney. The voice of Barney on the television show.

Until this weekend, Eric had never heard Barney speak before. So I’m trying to explain how Barney kind of sounds like a cross between Bullwinkle and Pee-Wee. But I can’t do a very good Barney at all.

Eric goes to the video store and rents a Barney show. I sit down to watch it with him, and I realize that this is some hack Barney tape.

[scripty]
PAMIE
This isn’t Barney.

ERIC
Yes, it is.

PAMIE
No, this isn’t Barney. That’s not the right voice.

ERIC
It says “Barney” right on the tape.

PAMIE
But this dinosaur is blue.

ERIC
He’s purplish.

PAMIE
Blue.

ERIC
But he’s going to the beach.

PAMIE
What?

ERIC
Barney goes to the beach in this one.

PAMIE
Therefore he’s a different color and has a different voice?

ERIC
Don’t question it!

PAMIE
Sweetie, don’t study this tape, it’s wrong.

ERIC
I’m trying to listen to his voice.

PAMIE
But that’s not Barney’s voice.

ERIC
How can they make a fake Barney?

PAMIE
We aren’t meant to understand everything.
[/scripty]

So Eric downloaded the trailer for the Barney movie. I’m in the kitchen making the terrible wings from the other night and Eric is in the computer room studying how to be Barney. I hear him copying everything Barney is saying. “Teee-rific!”

Now, I’m trying to be very supportive, but this was starting to crack me up. I giggled a little into my pot on the stove.

“I’d appreciate you not laughing at me,” came the voice from the other room.

“Oh, you can see me?” I asked. “I didn’t know you could see me. I’m trying to be very supportive here. I don’t want to laugh.”

“I appreciate that. I’d like you to do a better job of it, if you could.”

So we sat around and pretended to be Barney for an hour or so.

[scripty]
ERIC
Hey, Kenny, that would be a grrrreeat idea!

PAMIE
Higher and dumber.

ERIC
Higher?

PAMIE
You make him sound like he has an MFA.

ERIC
I do have an MFA.

PAMIE
Barney doesn’t.

ERIC
Because he’s a dinosaur, I forgot.

PAMIE
Just dumb him down a bit.

ERIC
Hey, Kenny, that would be a greeeeaaaat idea!

PAMIE
Dumber.

ERIC
I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family… what comes next?

PAMIE
With a knick-knack paddy-whack, give your dog a bone
This old man came rolling home.

ERIC
Really?

PAMIE
No. I don’t know.

ERIC
It has to go in the audition tape.

PAMIE
What else?

ERIC
I have to say “super-de-dooper” or something like that.

PAMIE
Sorry, I don’t know how that goes.

ERIC
Let’s face it, I’m probably not the next purple dinosaur.

PAMIE
Let’s do the tape again.
[/scripty]

So we recorded his audition tape and I tried to be the best seven year old boy I could while he tried very hard to be big and purple. My mind was flashing forward. If he got this job, I’d be dating Barney. I’d have to tell everyone I’d be dating Barney. And we’d have to move to Dallas. I’d have to live in Dallas and be Barney’s love slave. Because I know Eric, and he’d use that damn Barney voice all the time. “Hey, Pamie, I’ve got a greeeeat idea! You can go to the store and buy me some cigarettes you lazy bitch!” And it’s all funny to everyone else because it’s in that dumb voice. And it was fun to talk like Barney. I was doing it too: “Hey, this line to get a movie sucks ass!”

We were walking to the car in our apartment lot to go and return the Barney movie:

[scripty]
ERIC
Hey, I have a teee-riffic idea!

PAMIE
Hey, what’s that, little E?

ERIC
Let us never speak of the purple dinosaur again.
[/scripty]

And then we started saying more profane things in a purple dinosaur voice. I hope no children were listening outside, thinking that their bestest, oldest, purplest friend was out drunk and belligerent at two in the morning…

So, I may end up dating Barney. Will you still love me?

You know, when I was a kid and you had that safe word… you know the word that someone had to say to pick you up from school if they weren’t your mom or dad? Me and my sister’s safe word was “Barney” after our Basset Hound. If I end up sleeping with the new Barney, I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to get another safe word… and another childhood memory will be ruined. I swear that dinosaur is evil.

Oh, and Eric will just use that voice all the time, I’m sure. We’ll be at parties and I’ll hear him going, “Super-dee-do!” And I’ll have to just smile and say, “Barney puts food on my table. I can’t hate Barney.”

But poor Eric, you know? Years of classical training to sit in front of a television trying to mimic a childhood puppet. I felt so bad, but at the same time it was so amusing… trying to make your voice do the voice of a character that people make fun of. That’s the problem we kept running into. It kept sounding like he was mocking the dinosaur when he was doing the voice. So many people mock it all the time, that unless you are in a dinosaur suit, it seems that you are mocking it too. Eric ended the tape, “Thank you for your time… and your sense of humor.” I liked that. It showed that he wasn’t at home wearing a costume with a big “B” painted on his chest because he was going to be the next Barney come hell or high water, you know? It showed that Eric was a person, an actor, trying to get a role that his agent sent him on. It was charming and witty and humble. “I don’t like people that take themselves too seriously,” Eric said to me last night. Some actors take themselves very seriously. They are never the fun ones.

Yes indeedely doodely.

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