I’ve taken a break from plowing through the recesses of my memory to unearth boys and men who have contributed to my present expectations, fears, and complexes for my book, to work on my book’s proposal. Now, I have made it abundantly clear that I struggle with the confines of…anything; routine, discipline, rules, popular opinion, so it should go without saying that writing this proposal is causing serious strain.
Each time I sit down to put the content of my memoir into a marketable format (chapter summaries, cultural relevance, prospective audience, my credibility on the subject matter, and competitive comparisons), I start to shake and mutter “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!” Because, in the prolific words of the ever-wise and experienced Miley Cyrus, I can’t be tamed.
That said, it must be done, and I have never been one to drop important balls (I could not come up with another way to say that. Sorry. Creativity engaged elsewhere).
I am selecting only the finest of stories from my past to include in the proposal, though I’m sure some smaller characters will make it into the final product. This is similar to presenting the family members with jobs and no obvious mental disorders or addictions to a new beau, but waiting to spring Uncle Eddie, who has a permanent Skoal-ring faded into his Wranglers and was on the 3rd season of Jerry Springer because of his new-found love, who just happened to be his step daughter (fact), until after new beau has become new husband and cannot easily run away.
I thought it’d be fun to drop a character or two who didn’t make the cut here. So, without further ado, I give you the Lumberjacks. They’re called that for two very different reasons.
Late one night, I was sitting at Roger Brown’s in Portsmouth, VA. For no reason in particular, since RB’s is a straight-up sports bar, white people/honkies/crackers are a minority. But not this night. I was there with a Photog from LA. We’d just finished a job for Fox’s release of Avatar to dvd, and this was the spot chosen by the studio for the wrap party. This means that sales teams from every major studio and record label (sales teams- not producers, reader) had descended on Roger Brown’s in the dark of night, ready to get their drink on.
There was no private space, so the back half of the spacious watering hole had been rented, as had a band. A rock ‘n roll band that party goers could join with for karaoke. These 40-something salesmen (primarily) had changed into their best Tommy Bahama shirt and stone-washed jeans.
Being the self-aware person that I am, I kept scanning RB’s other guests to see just how badly the whiskey-doused versions of Pink Cadillac were annoying them (I mean…I was annoyed) and interrupting what they thought would be another relaxed night at RB’s watching the game. Oh. I forgot to mention that the terrible cover band was blocking the big screen.
Photog was pouring vodka past his bleached teeth at record speed, and I was concerned, because he was really slim and had already raided my purse for any pills he could find. I had watched him take a fistful of ibuprofen, a linty sudafed, and perhaps a midol… but he turned his nose up at the mucinex I kept in my car, for the bronchitis I get about every year. I thought this was interesting, because when we had set up our shoot, I had found a plain white pill on the floor, looked at it, and tossed it out and he had shouted, “Are you crazy? What WAS that? Maybe it was good.” So, I believed he did not discriminate.
The night chugged on, but when Photog began to sway and look at me adoringly, and when I had my fill of Lynyrd Skynyrd sing-alongs, I suggested we go outside for fresh air. This seemed to do the trick for us both. Photog became alert and charming, and, with a toss of his perfect Ken-doll coif, he mustered the bravado to chastise the other folks on the patio for their unhealthy smoking habits.
Photog was finishing a story about how he got the wicked scar on his arm that resembled a shark attack, when a very tall, lean man came out of the pub and proceeded to creep along the outer wall of the restaurant as if he were on the ledge of an imaginary 32nd floor. Distracted, Photog stopped to stare, and I followed suit. The man’s eyes were rolled back into his head as he moved, which was bizarre to see. His skin was so dark, and his eyes –sans pupils- were so white, it was as if beams of light were shooting from the sockets. He crept only as far as a potted banana tree, and then wrapped his arms lovingly around it, went absolutely rigid, and then…timber. Like a Warner Brother’s cartoon, legs completely straight, torso parallel to his new tree-friend, which he joined him on his descent, he crashed into the ground.
There he lay. Spooning a tree. Drooling into the pavement. It was all a little too real for Photog and I, so we sat, and ogled, heads tilted in confusion, trying to piece together what had just happened. We didn’t need to wonder for very long. His girlfriend game flying out of the joint, and knelt beside him, where a few bystanders and servers joined her.
“Don’t call an ambulance!, “ she cried, “I’ll take him home!” She rubbed Lumberjack’s face until he came to, and then told him, “I’ll go get the car. Don’t go anywhere.” For some reason, I found that very funny, but I turned my chuckle into a contorted snort-cough-gag-lion roar to be polite.
To us, she said, “He only had a soda. A soda and chicken! He ain’t never had soda before.”
Photog looked at me and said helpfully, “See? You gotta be careful who you get your “soda” (he did the finger quotes) from.”
“Oh.” I replied, while looking sadly at the banana tree as a busser worked at sweeping up the spewed soil.
This story has absolutely no resolution and I don’t believe it’s had any influence on my fundamental beliefs and ideals, so I didn’t bother writing it, until now. I do, however, think that Photog and Lumberjack were sensational in their own ways. If you can draw parallels between the two, or extract helpful nuggets from each character, I’d love to hear it. And please go beyond the obvious “Just Say No”.