The Summertime Blues

It had been a week since I watched a movie. That’s a long time for me, and it’s a sign of a serious funk. So sorry, folks who come here for acerbic remarks or amateur musings on classic films, all I have to talk about this week is me, so you might not find this interesting at all. I don’t blame you. See you next week.

Then like a lot of things I put up here, that was an untruth. Yesterday – Father’s Day – I actually found myself doing something I NEVER do, which is turn on the TV and flip through the channels. We long ago determined cable was an unfunded mandate, and said goodbye to it with few regrets (mainly Turner Classic Movies and Mythbusters). Lo and behold, a couple of those newfangled digital channels coughed up stuff I would actually watch, even with commercial interruptions – one being David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, which is still superb (and unavailable on domestic blu-ray, grumble gripe bitch complain), and the Danish kaiju flick, Reptilicus, which has somehow gotten even worse. (All you Godzilla 2014 haters go watch this, then get back to me on how bad the modern flick is)

I’ve been put on a mild anti-depressant to help with my sleep problems, which it has, to a degree. I’m not sure if my current tendency toward rumination and self-examination is due to being a bit more rested or a bit less depressed. Anxiety levels are about the same, because little pills do nothing about stressors.

A major cause for pondering was Father’s Day. I’m lucky, my parents are still alive, so I can call the old codger and we can kill some cell phone minutes not talking to each other. But I’m no spring chicken myself, and notes from my mother telling me they’ve paid for their funerals and recently went to see their headstones have my head in a really weird place. Really weird.

As you know, I’m a father myself. That wasn’t something I had really planned for, but my wife, Lisa, having been an excellent, involved teacher and therefore second mother to a lot of children, wanted nothing more than a child of her own, so that had to become one of my priorities, and if I can claim nothing else in my life, I at least did that right. It was a long trip, full of tears and loss, but we finally produced a son, and now we get to worry how he’s going to get to college.

But. That wasn’t what I was pondering. I took stock of the people I hang with, and the number of fathers there is shockingly low. What is shocking about that, though, is the fact that I now regard fatherhood as the default, rather than the extraordinary circumstance. There is nothing profound or life-changing in that realization, as the very fact of fatherhood itself is profound and life-changing enough.

Of course my son has hit his teens, and they’re not as terrible as I had anticipated (and that’s the sort of  statement that will surely come back to haunt me); I guess I’m fairly lucky. He usually only comes out of his pit of a room to ask if dinner is ready yet, then returns to his Xbox. I’d be the same way, except I’m usually the one cooking dinner. I do have my own pit of a room, after all.

I guess I may be in the throes of a slow-motion mid-life crisis, one that crops up every few years like a persistent case of acne. As we all know (because I bitch about it constantly), I work three and often four part-time jobs. Weekends are a foreign concept to me, but then, I was trained as an actor, and for them there is no such thing, anyway.

I’ve been involved with one of those murder mystery dinner theaters for years. I’m going to be saying those lines during my funeral. The money is pretty good, I shouldn’t complain. But there is physical labor involved: loading and unloading the van because it’s a gypsy outfit and we can’t leave any of our stuff up longer than a couple of days. The characters are all human cartoons, and sometimes that gets pretty physical, to the detriment of my bad knee, my asthma and general decrepitude. A lot of the audience have no idea whatsoever what is involved in live theater (and this is loosely categorized as live theater, I guess), have no idea how to behave, and Jesus H. Christ, I hate trying to perform for drunks.

So here we have one of the classic symptoms of what led up to those famous Post Office shootings – remember them? Before they spread out into the community at large? Bad working conditions were coupled with a dependency on the job they hated – the salary, the benefits. I’m not going to go on a murderous rampage, but good God, I’m so tired of it. But the “day job” barely takes care of the utilities – the weekend shows pay for groceries and gas.

Somebody out there is thinking that I should be thankful for what I’ve got. I am. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be reaching for more, for something better.

So tonight I’m going to do something I haven’t done in years. I’m going to an audition at my old theater.

Things have improved since I left for the better financial rewards of dinner theater.  The pay is much better – in fact, it would be almost commensurate with what I’m earning, although the work is spread over several days instead of just two. But there is the bonus of A) portraying an actual human being for a change, and B) doing it for an audience that actually wants to be there, where I’m not perceived as standing in the way of the salad service, or actively attempting to corrupt the frail sensibilities of churchfolk.

This is going to introduce more conflict into my life, if I’m cast. Finding people to replace me at one of the nighttime jobs. A shuffling of cast at the dinner theater. My son won’t be able to work the dinner theater, either, which he does for spending money.

But that might be the sort of thing to shake me out my current doldrums. And then I can complain about not having any time to watch movies, a return to business as usual.

2 Comments

  1. Hey Doc, Happy Fathers Day. As for the funk, take the act of auditioning as “the change”. Just a suggestion, as I was going through a similar funk a few years back and decided it was time to try out for a band… again. I had done band auditions in my 20′s, to little success (plenty of “Thanks for comings” and even lots of practices… with absolutely no “gigs”, as they say in the biz). So I decided to try again in my late 30′s. I had gone to see the band prior to trying out, and with a great deal of hubris thought, “I’m better then THAT guy!” At any rate, after replying to the band’s clandestine audition call and having a few days to imagine my road to “cover band”-level rock stardom, I went and tried out. I thought I nailed it, but I was informed to the contrary that I hadn’t. It stung (maybe even more then in my earlier years). But I eventually drew some comfort in the idea (that was echoed by my friends and family) that “at least I tried”. And that was enough, eventually, do be a funk-ender. I hope the auditions, good or bad, help you as well. And (you know it’s coming), break a leg!

    • Thanks. You’re right, the act of doing it is almost, if not more, important than the result. I did fine, it was good to see some old friends, and it is distinctly refreshing to be at one of these where it doesn’t matter if I’m cast. It served to let folks know I am still alive, still willing and most of all, available. It’s a cool project, and I’d love to be a part of it – but, for the reasons listed abovr, it will actually be much easier on me if I don’t.

      But I did it, I made the move for a change. Maybe now I can freakin’ watch a movie.


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