Last September I saw Elizabeth Rodriguez in the subway. I had just moved to New York for grad school and was interning at one of my favorite magazines. I spent most evenings and weekends watching Orange is the New Black.
I was doing exactly what I had always wanted to do. But my new roommates sucked. My new apartment lacked air conditioning. And every choice I had made leading up to that September had seemed like the wrong one.
Was this a mirage, induced by too much heat and too little human interaction?
Rodriguez's character Aleida Diaz was in no way my favorite prisoner. Aleida is vindictive and manipulative. Throughout the first two seasons, she is in gut-wrenching sexual competition with her biological daughter and prisonmate, Dayanara. She is as close to Regina George as we see at Litchfield—and that's at a place where the entire infrastructure is based off of complicated female relationships (and sometimes literal backstabbing).
Like any new kid, I had moved to New York ripe with optimism and full of ideas about all of the incredibly inviting and well-connected ladies I was about to meet. I imagined our lives slowly intertwining until we couldn't mention Chelsea without erupting in laughter over something hilarious that had happened there (probably involving booze and a nip-slip).
But once I saw her in the park, I knew the truth: like Rodriguez, Hendricks had come into my life not because I was her character, but because I was the character she talks a little sense into.
When that didn't happen right away, I opted to keep my head down and avoid eye contact at all costs. It seemed better to buy an industrial air filter than ask my roommates not to smoke inside of our windowless loft. It seemed easier to sit alone at lunch.
Then, there she was—Aleida incarnate—standing feet away from me in the sweat dungeon that is the New York Metro in summertime. Keeping my eyes down was no longer an option, because New York City was coming for me with a vengeance. Aleida was here to teach me a lesson.
Was this The Secret? Did I spend enough concentrated hours watching Netflix that I actually manifested the actress into my very world? Was this a mirage, induced by too much heat and too little human interaction? Or was my subconscious projecting onto strangers my own desire for a big old “welcome to prison” slap in the face?
It happened again a few weeks ago when I (maybe) saw Christina Hendricks, walking around the park near my school in yoga pants and big sun-glasses. As with last fall, I had slipped into a steady routine in which Mad Men took up most of my free-time. Unlike Aleida, Joan Holloway was one of my favorite characters.
I tried to mimic her posture as I walked to the grocery store. I tried to mimic her kind smile and mean eyes as I spoke with people who annoyed me. At her urging, I even took to dating older men. But once I saw her in the park, I knew the truth: like Rodriguez, Hendricks had come into my life not because I was her character, but because I was the character she talks a little sense into.
But one thing is for certain: I will not be watching whatever-the-fuck Netflix original series is called “Scrotal Recall.”
I was acting like a Season 1 Peggy Olson, wasting the fresh spring air on little more than evenings with The Rejuvenator ("You’ll love the way it makes you feel!").
So next Netflix binge, I will take my life lessons into my own hands. It's time to start choosing TV shows based off of who I want to manifest into my life. School is out. The job hunt is slow. But one thing is for certain: I will not be watching whatever-the-fuck Netflix original series is called “Scrotal Recall.”