Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday

When being interviewed for my current position, I was asked what kind of job I was looking for. My honest answer? Lounging by a pool while a myriad of blonds peel and feed me grapes for $100 an hour. It’s not quite worked out that way.

I am enjoying it. It keeps me busy, but it is much more physical than I am used to. My body must adjust itself. I was used to constant movement, but I am constantly lifting and moving boxes of frozen food fifty pounds or more. Between my age and the rotator cuff surgery I had a few years ago, it will take a while, if ever, that I don’t come home exhausted.

Plus there’s the added element of the freezing temps. Even with gloves, my fingers get cold and a little numb. I’m sure that too will ease in time. What I am surprised at his how much I am slicing and cutting my fingers without my knowledge. I don’t realize it until I get home and kind of thaw out.

I also need to remember not to lick my lips in the cold temps. My lips are dry, cracked and beet red. If anyone says anything, I’ll just fess up to finally having a torrid make out session with Kristin Chenoweth. At least then, they won’t think I’m a total dork.

Funny, one never thinks they will end up where they are. I don’t think I ever thought about where I’d be or what I’d be in my fifties, but here I am, and I’m pretty sure this isn’t what I expected. Not that I have regrets, this just isn’t at all what I expected.

Granted, while I am not blaming anyone but myself, my situation is a result of things totally out of my control. Now I did make the decisions that put me in the situations where I could be backhanded across the psyche a couple of times with no warning, but essentially I’m the one who said “Let’s give this a shot”. I just didn’t mean it literally.

Saturday nights used to be so much different for me. I was never a big party guy, although I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having done my fair share. I was also never big in the social pool. Maybe that was part of my problem.

Working, that’s what I used to do on Saturday nights. Opening up cases of Toaster Strudel and ripping the skin off my knuckles is not the kind of work I’m talking about. I have worked a number of jobs where I was scheduled, and probably because of the way my life was in my 20s & 30s, is why it never bothered me.

Saturdays in many ways are and will always be two performance days for me. There was something wonderful and satisfying knowing that you slept in on Saturdays and relaxed, because you knew you were going to being using every ounce of strength you had. By the time the evening curtain was down and the make up was off, you were still bouncing off the walls.

I miss that, dearly. I especially miss the days in Nashville, when I not only did a couple of shows, usually a musical, but also a late night Improv show. I loved that, finishing up very late at night/early in the morning sometimes knowing you had a great night, sometimes awed at the power of someone else on the stage or knowing that it just sucked.
Nothing can compare to that.

Off the record but up front here, I am not a singer, but I can fake it. I have three left feet and ten big toes, but be patient with me and I can fake being a dancer, too. Adding the bizarre range I have, a nice bass register, nothing in the middle and then a nice tenor range I never had a qualm about going out for musicals.

Being a character actor, I was happier when I had the chance to play a lot of different roles in one production. Now I didn’t mind nice juicy roles, but I always looked so young and I’m not your attractive leading man, so as I aged I was difficult to cast. If you were casting a musical where you needed one actor to be six different people in two hours, I was your man.

While I had my share of successes, I think I always excelled in shows that were either ensemble or multi storied; “The Good Doctor”, “Greater Tuna”, “Cloud Nine”. I think my record (other than ‘Tuna”) was either a production of “Annie Get Your Gun” where I think I was a different character in every scene and a production of “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” where I played seven different roles.

Now I love to sing, but it’s probably the hardest thing for me to do on stage when not part of the chorus or duet, blah blah blah. Solos terrify me, ironically after I leave the stage. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but usually after every solo, I throw up. Stage managers I work with just know this and are prepared.

I remember dear Margie, who stage managed a musical version of “Tom Sawyer” written and directed by Richard Kinter. I played Sid. I LOVED that role and that production, but I had this big time solo in the last act. After I finished it, I had to run around to the other side of the stage and make an entrance for another scene.

Margie would just be standing in the wing, calling cues as I ran off after the song and held up a bucket, which I promptly barfed in. She handed me a tissue and a squirt of Binaca as I dashed past her to hit my next mark.

Of course, I haven’t been on stage in over ten years. Ironically until about a year and a half ago, I was mostly singing to fend off my creative withdrawl, in church, for weddings and funerals. I always did my little Josh Groban imitation and quietly slipped out to worship the toilet as soon as I could.

Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not doing any of that anymore. I have Saturday night’s now to uhm…well…think about what I used to do on Saturday nights. Maybe that will change.

I always said I got out of theatre because I was tired of being in my thirties and still being cast as children. Now that my age is QUICKLY catching up to me, that decision will be rethought.

For now, I am content putting one foot in front of the other in a freezer smashing my fingers and chapping my lips so you can have Jimmy Dean Sausage Biscuits for breakfast. Just remember, in my mind I’m performing in public and throwing up after my big number.