Friday, October 17, 2014

Today Is My Brother's 80th Birthday

Russell in the Middle, Jimmy on the Right
Four score years ago, my brother Jimmy was born. Jimmy is the oldest of the three of us, the responsible one. To celebrate the occasion, his children decided to throw a surprise birthday party for him last Saturday.

When I  received my invitation, I panicked a little bit. I haven’t been to Crowley since I evacuated there in 2005, running away from Hurricane Katrina. And I don’t remember when I’d last been there before that.

Something about me doesn’t want to go there. That’s ridiculous, because every time I overcome the fear and go, I have a good time. My home town is beautiful, and the people there are kind and friendly. But something is always scratching me behind my ear and whispering that I shouldn’t go. They’ll get me if I do, figure me out, realize I’m nothing, and throw me away.

That’s just me, though, and I’m weird, because nothing like that ever happens, and the visits always turn out to be cool.

Jimmy Sees Me
They kept me hidden so that I would be the last person Jimmy would see when he showed up and survived a crowd of people shouting, “Happy Birthday!!!” He almost had a cardiac event when he did spot me because his eyes got really big, and he froze in his tracks. Then he started to cry a little bit, which made me cry, and he grabbed me in a hug and pulled me out of the room. He apologized for not having seen me since Hurricane Katrina, but it’s just that he’s afraid to come to New Orleans. The city scares him.

My brother Jimmy’s weird like that. Must run in the family.

I learned a few things from this visit. About family. Well, about my family.

I learned that it’s only the people your own age or older who appear to age in your eyes. Younger people never grow old. They carry the same faces they had when you first got to know them as babies and toddlers. And their children are them all over again, only different, like 1.5 or 2.0.

I learned that the people in my family delight in one another. They know they’re family and all and because of that they’re stuck with each other, but once past that, they sit back and enjoy each other’s company. They share their skills, their ups and downs, their kids, their uniquenesses, and their lives with the kind of carefree abandon that comes when you know you are loved and nothing will ever change that.

And, finally, I learned that I need to dive into that mosh pit more often than I have before.

Happy Birthday, Jimmy!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Once Upon a Time

Just when I’ve reached the wizard age
when all the spells
I’ve written in my book in blood
I’ve memorized by heart
they abjure my magick

But not he
He needs me now
my presence and my husbandry
more than ever he did before

Just when I’ve reached the age when
the fingers have begun to loose their grip
the arms their strength
the legs their uprightness and power to move
as once they could
and once they did

Once upon a time

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hitting Rock Bottom

Time was, and not so long ago, I was a Somebody in the New Orleans theatre scene. Then my long-time producer died. I tried producing my own shows and nearly went broke. Nobody else had any gigs for me. I had overstayed my welcome and was just hanging around until somebody got up the nerve to tell me to leave the party.

A few days ago I received an email from a former actor I had once directed. He’s directing now. The exchange went down like this:
He began by saying, “Howdy Glenn, I know you don’t prefer to act on stage, but I do believe it’s worthwhile reaching out to you again. I’d like you to consider auditioning for the role of Harold (the “father figure”) in the play Orphans that I am directing at Allways Theatre. Auditions are this Saturday afternoon. We start rehearsing right away, and open in mid-October through first week of November. Are you familiar with Orphans? Poignant, comic, and poetic. At the very least, I hope you’ll attend the play. But I do think you’d give a strong read as Harold. I need mature men with solid acting chops and emotional dexterity. Let me know your thoughts. hope you’re well. haven’t seen you in a minute. Ciao-ciao.”

I wrote back, “Would it be at all possible to borrow a copy of the script to read the whole thing? I looked at the sample on the Samuel French website and would like to see more. Thanks.”

“Not likely before the auditions on Saturday. Scripts are on order, might arrive by Friday. In the meantime, I have the only copy. And I need it. The sides will be a different scene, from Act 2, where you can see the fatherly influence that Harold assumes over the boys.”

“Well, I guess I can come and read. Can you put me down for a time in the latter part if the afternoon? I plan on seeing Reby at her birthday brunch that morning.”

“Thanks, Glenn. I’ll pass that info on to the producer. He’ll get back to you to confirm a time.”
So today, this afternoon, there I was. For all the world, another loser. A former theatre director, fallen so low he was reduced to auditioning for acting roles. The humiliation was all-consuming.

I decided I couldn’t go through with it.

When nobody was around, I sidled up to the stage manager and whispered that I had to leave, couldn’t stay, had somewhere else to be, someone I had to check on, sorry, have to run. Have. To. Go!

And I was out, away, as though I’d never been.

And there was no one there to see this man dissolve into a dew except for that one poor kid who didn’t have an inkling he’d just witnessed an old enchanter break his staff and drown his book.

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