Goggles Mel, The Paula J Riley Story
I would often help Paula read lines and prepare monologues. She was putting together several comedy monologues for audition purposes and was working on Neil Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Ave.
She chose the scene in the second act where Edna is commiserating with her husband Mel about loosing her job because her employer went out of business.
“Test me.” Paula said and started to recite Edna’s lines.
This is what I heard.
“ I don’t understand how a big place like that can go out of business. It’s not a little candy store. It’s a big building. It’s got stone and marble with goggles on the roof. Beautifully hand-chiseled goggles Mel. A hundred years old. They’ll come tomorrow with a sledge hammer and kill the goggles, Mel.”
I started to laugh,“goggles Mel? That doesn’t make sense”. I picked up the script and read the section. “Its gargoyles, the word is pronounced gar-goy-ouls.”
Paula said, “Yes—that’s what I’m saying…goggles!”
It must be explained that Paula is a life-long New Yawker. She always had a hard time with her R’s. In this particular play Edna is a New Yorker, so an accent would make sense…but pronouncing "goggles" for "gargoyles" was a stretch. She sounded like a New York Elmer Fudd.
So we worked on gargoyles and she eventually got it down. However I got the phrase tattooed on my brain and I would blurt out “Goggles Mel !” all throughout the following days.
Remember the Honeymooners episode where Ralf Kramden–rehearsing for a play–gets the word poloponies instead of polo ponies stuck in his head? Now Paula got “goggles” stuck in her head. She never felt comfortable reading that monologue again and eventually shelved it. Sorry Paula.
But I would tease her about it and said if anyone wrote her biography they should call it Goggles Mel, The Paula J Riley Story.
Steve J. Hill