We missed the boat, didn’t we? Sitting here wondering what to do when you’re supposed to have kids and grandkids to take care of those empty hours. Or, we should be rich enough to meeting “The Gang” or lunch in NYC or LA or ATL or wherever “it” is “happening.” But, we blew it. We are merely surviving. Sure, there are friends and lunches and dinners, but then we go home alone. Those days of waking up in Queens with a beautiful male model are long, long gone. I don’t even want to see my naked body any more. And yes, sure, Sir, you can still make kids if you want, but do you have the energy to keep up and will you be there to see them graduate, if you can pay for college? I’m not sure why I am still here. I lost a friend last year who told wonderful, magical tales of his huge family and his lunches in NYC and LA and London and after his death, we found out that every story was a total lie. But, I must say, Frank, you did make life more interesting.
I haven’t smoked since 1991 and I never was that good at it to begin with. My mother would shake her head and sigh that a pack a day of the lightest brand wasn’t really SMOKING…and I didn’t inhale deep enough. We were forbidden to smoke in the Ohio University Theater Department, so we all did it. I coughed and choked to get addicted at the age of 20. And today, after enjoying my second gluten-free beer, the thought of a cigarette crosses my palette and slides down my throat and fills my lungs and then it’s over. Not at $6 a pack. My one pack a day habit would be $200 a month and I’d rather spend that on chocolate. What made me quit was my doctors told me that if I didn’t quit, they wouldn’t see me any more. And then, my assistant director of the King’s County Production of “Alice ‘91” offered me $20 to quit. He wasn’t that rich, and no, we weren’t. He was 22 and I was 42; but I just did it immediately. Maybe Mom was right. Maybe I just didn’t know how to do an addiction right.
It’s finally dawning on my pea brain that I have it fairly easy and comfortable and settled. Even accepting that I will live alone and get weaker from the MS, at least I’m not fighting huge regrets and hungry demons. I have seen the destruction the HR and HD can do and while I am not a has been, I am a never was and that’s easier. Remember that, my theatrical children, and concentrate on the work. Concentrate on making the audience think. The stage is an event that only lives in the memory and each performance is its own piece of art. Even the audience changes the dynamic. Have fun with it. All I ask is that no matter how hungry and broke you are, don’t compromise, especially the female actresses who are often asked to prostitute their bodies for a paycheck. That’s when you wait the tables and wait for another break because, if you take THAT one, you may never escape till you age out of it; and then all the doors will be closed. As for the playwrights, well. Write something, damn it. Get your friends to read it for you. Do it in the public square. Get it on paper on the chance it will exist and remember, there’s always Google docs.