“Wouldn’t it be better if . . . ”
There are few things in life I hate worse than suggestions having to do with how I might improve – well – anything. For the many long decades during which I was becoming less actor and more teacher/producer/director/performance coach, my dislike of the phrase “wouldn’t it be better if…” became legendary, its utterance by actor/parent/student would instantly silence a room, having the effect of an air raid siren on those present who knew me even slightly. They would, upon hearing it, back quietly away, duck for as much cover as was available and wait for me to explode. My explosions were also legendary. They came in many varieties:
- The quite frequent dismissive-one-liner-snark meant to silence and put one in one’s place;
- The quite frequent dissolve into tears, “excuse me for a minute” sort of “you’ve hurt my feelings – I’m overly moved” quiet fizzle of explosion;
- The less frequent but still relatively common in amused, faux-high dudgeon (*please see etymology note below), how dare you sort of, warning explosion;
- And the blessedly rare, long, slow-simmering until nuclear-cloud-cursing-raging rant leaving scorched earth and scarred humanity in its (my) wake.
But perhaps the most common variety of “explosion” was my babbling rantings and ravings. So well-known was I for my long-winded, tangent-filled, fustian-pontifical orations, that I was eventually hired to write a weekly column called Rants & Raves in which I went off about this or that. Alas, that publication is no more (alas because, one; they paid me to edit and write, and, two; I haven’t had a regular job since and I really need one) but bright side (see, A.B.C., how I am trying) during the course of that gig I became best-friend-forever-soulmate-close to its publisher, who I’d known casually for decades but who I now count among my nearest and dearest.
She knows me really well. Which is why she said with some trepidation and terror yesterday, “I know you hate suggestions, but, might I – well – I have an idea.” Mmm-hmm.
BEST-FRIEND-FOREVER-SOULMATE-CLOSE WOULDN’T IT BE BETTER IF’s
- Oh dear. Yes. She was FULL of ideas. The first she had pre-gamed for by sending me an email link. To a gay-dating service. Really? Really. She thinks I ought not to be alone. She thinks I am a great catch. She thinks I am attractive. She thinks too much and she is NOT a gay man. Alone works for me. And since I am a long in the crooked-toothed, unemployed, sort-of-homeless man with little to no ambition, I’m not really much of a catch. Now, I’ve promised to work on my self-esteem, so, I will admit that there is a very small subset of people who would find me attractive, but, the men amongst them can be found in prison, whilst the women amongst them are driving mini-vans purchased in the course of disastrously un-fulfilling marriages they will never leave so they fantasize about men they can never have and wouldn’t want if they could have them.
- Her NEXT suggestion was that I transcribe my rantings and ravings, those floods of tangent and pointlessness and crazy-pretend-rage into which I so often launch, which render her breathless, red-faced, hysterical. She says I am funny. My writing is too sad, she says. Write funny, she says. Write shorter, she says – like, you know, a short story. Find THAT voice and maybe – she says – THEN, someone MIGHT want to read it? I demurred, explaining that my authorial voice was rather long-winded, that the special discipline of short story writing, its concision and such, not my thing.
- She suggested what I might write short stories ABOUT – all of which were topics that would GUARANTEE my death or another lawsuit.
However, HERE I AM GOING, trying to be – you know – concise and funny and a little ranty – taking all of her “wouldn’t it be better if”s and giving them a roll in the “HEY WHY NOT?”
The irony: she wants me to eschew shadowy, one-night-standy men and find myself a date-y, steady, marriage kind of a guy. Well, it is in the context of suggesting to men a second date (for lack of a better word) in which I am most often greeted with the laughter she thinks I can achieve with my writing.
Maybe I should look into this: Scientists Successfully Grow Half A Dozen Human Penises In Lab. (CLICK THE TITLE) I know, right? I mean, the possibilities. I could get a new, fresh, bigger one to better my second-date (or NSA fuck-buddy-thingy) odds, OR, I could just get myself a penis to have around, on hand (so to speak) without the pesky and irritating actual male-presence-personality attached? Ideal. Oh wait, that already exists, albeit made of silicone. And they don’t talk. Which is sometimes not so great. And they don’t talk. Which is often a really good thing.
I talk enough for everyone. But, if I keep going, I’ll go over 1000 words which is — apparently – where I lose you. (Although, I usually say FAR FEWER than 1000 words with those supposedly dangerous hook-ups of mine and I lose them too so . . . can’t win. Maybe my mouth is the problem – but – wait – no – pretty sure that’s NOT the issue – but then again -)
I’m stopping here. I hope you’ll come back for a second — whatever this is. (Stop laughing, you dog.)
*Etymology note: It is instructive and illuminating to trace the origin of dudgeon to its source (so say some, though not all) as reference to “grabbing a dagger in anger” – that I, who have been so frequently stabbed in the back, would use a dudgeon at all, amuses me. Just me. Which is enough.