I Yet Live

I’ve managed to survive that hellish week-and-a-half, though there were times I was fairly certain that it would have been possible to just lie down and die, like you hear about aboriginal elders doing. I would eventually exit those scenarios, and would lie down, but didn’t die, and that’s all to the better, I suppose. We’ve all heard the “I’m tired, but it’s a good tired” canard before, and yeah, I’ve experienced that. Not this time, though. It was a bad, cranky , irritable tired, a good-christ-will-you-people-get-it-in-fucking-gear-so-I-can-go-home tired.

It was a big week for The Show, the interactive dinner theater murder mystery thingie that supplements my part-time day job, almost adding up to a living wage. I have been doing this Show for, off and on, 15 years or so now. Yes, that is a pretty sobering realization.

Here is the thing about The Show: it is a gypsy operation with no true permanent space. There is a bit of room in the hotel’s banquet office where we keep our costumes, but by and large, everything else is packed into an aging minivan. This means I start every show by being a stagehand, carrying equipment from the van into whatever room we are occupying that evening. Then I get to be a technician, setting up the sound equipment and testing it. Then I get to be an actor for two-and-a-half to three hours. Then I return to technician land, breaking down and putting away the sound, then I get to be a stagehand again, loading equipment back into the van.

Sometimes, when you get several shows in a row, you luck out and get to stay set up in the room, with only minimal changeover activity. Last week was not one of those weeks, being the holiday season and all; in fact, the hotel’s schedule is so jammed that we wound up cooling our heels for close to an hour and a half while the room’s prior occupants finished up their presentation. This had happened once before, years ago and in another hotel. That time was bitterly amusing because the offending group was a time management seminar. This time it was a bunch of telecomm suits who didn’t seem much interested in the blather coming from the Power Point operator, and kept coming out into the hall to chat on their cellphones and be glared at by surly actors.

Setting up everything takes an unhurried hour or so. Thanks to this late group and the early scheduling of a weeknight show, we were being asked to accomplish this in 15 minutes. That didn’t happen; most of it was accomplished in 35 minutes, but then actors had to get in costume and make-up. All in all, the client group spent 45 minutes in the bar, which they didn’t mind, oh no, far from it. They were pretty well lubricated by the time they took their seats.

I hate drunks.

This is one very important reason why I never ever seriously considered a career in stand-up. Folks with a genial buzz on laugh more easily as their inhibitions loosen, but drunks have all barriers removed, they think they are funnier than you will ever be (never mind that you have been doing this professionally and successfully for 17 years), and for a drunk, volume is equal to hilarity. That particular show was a struggle to maintain control, and the aftermath, after the laborious loading back in, was the inevitable period of “What the hell am I doing with my life?”

Roger Murtaugh has become my spirit animal, “I’m getting too old for this shit” my mantra. That became very stark Sunday when the Show traveled; we were actually performing at some teenage girl’s birthday. The teenagers, I should hasten to say, were fabulous; they enjoyed themselves immensely, and the only slight problem was getting our stuff loaded out while they were dancing at the end of the evening. But we got really good at dodging each other.

The exhaustion hit in earnest that evening, and now, on Tuesday, I’m only starting to dig out from under. I obviously haven’t done bupkis on this blog, though I’m way behind in reporting on the movies I’ve watched. Then there’s the other writing project, the one I can’t tell you about, but the one that’s actually paying me money. Absolutely nothing got done on that front, but then most everyone else involved in that project was off at some conference all last week, so I’m not the only one.

In case you were wondering, the movies seen were Dark of the Sun, Black Orpheus, and Eyes Wide Shut. One day, I may get to tell you about them. I still have 18 movies left on the Lists to watch before the end of the year. If I don’t figure out how to lie down and die before then.