Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh Mother, There art Thou!

I’m in a lull. A funk. Full of ennui. Spent. Drained. Devoid of ideas. If I were a color, I’d be grey. Not that really cool, almost black-gray that you see on Harleys, but the kind of gray that makes you believe it would take a horrible, rainy Monday just to cheer it up. It’s the gray in the crayon box that no one ever uses because nothing is as sad as that gray. Just the very sight of that gray can cause tough, grizzled I’ve-seen-it all police officers to want to throw their badges in the sewer and say, “I’m sick of law and order! I’m robbing a bank and I’m going to kick an old lady in the spleen as I make my getaway!” I’m so gray that I can’t even decide which grey to use; gray or grey. I’m even drinking Earl Grey tea and reading Zane Gray stories. I can’t stop watching the opening credits for Gray’s anatomy, just to see the word gray.

“What’s wrong deahhhh?”

That’s my dead mother, Nina. Actually, her name was Serafina, like the Seraphim, who are angels. Even though their last name is apparently Im, the Seraphim differ from the Cherubim. The former are adults who died and the Cherubim, I think, are baby angels. The only thing I am certain about regarding these spirits is this; according to the Renaissance painters, Seraphim have these gigantic, white feathery wings, which makes it nearly impossible to dress them, and Cherubim are never allowed to wear pants, which makes them eligible for a Penn State football scholarship.

Anyway, she died about three years ago at the age of eighty-four from fear. She put off some obvious symptoms of colon cancer for a long while and by the time she was moved enough to act on them, it was too late. So the lesson here is if you are afraid, you will die. But fear not. You will retain the ability, for all eternity, to aggravate the shit out of your kids whenever you want, thereby making you immortal.

I’m fine Neens. I’m working here.

“Deahhhh, you and I both know that’s not work. Work is what you do for someone else...for money. This is play. Now come on. I know something is wrong. Come on, tell me.”

I don’t want to talk about it, Ma.


Jesus! You can be as annoying in the afterlife as you were when you were here. Alright! I’ll tell you.

“Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain, deah.”

To be honest, I don’t really know what’s wrong, Nina. Everything is going pretty well actually. The Blog is moving along, I’ve got ideas for material, and for a change my right hip doesn’t feel like a farsighted, circus sideshow Italian knife-thrower is having a bad day at work ...hmmmm that’s it really...I want to work more. I need to work. I have got to get to a stage. But it’s been awfully quiet. I’m afraid, that’s all. Just a little scared.

“Did you piss someone off again deahhh with your caustic comments? Remember when you were banned from coming to your Aunt Lil’s wake because of your smart mouth?”

No. At least I don’t think so. Not yet anyway. Maybe? I mean maybe...Wait... Will you please stop that! It’s nothing like that. The whole thing is a process. I let eleven years slip away. All of my friends have moved up the ladder of success. There’s a whole new group of comics out there who are young enough to be my grandchildren. Bookers I never heard of, who were in grammar school when I started, are deciding if I should have the right to work their clubs. I’m right back where I was in 1980. I have to prove myself all over again. And the thing of it is, I KNOW how to do the job already. Sure I’m old. But I’ve still got comic chops. But maybe it’s THEIR time now. Maybe mine has past. What do you think, Ma? I could really use some wise, after-life motherly advice here.

“Honestly, I never thought you were funny. There was that time in New York...”

Yes, for the six-THOUSANTH time, I remember. You, of course, are speaking of that time when I was in the business for about six months and you came to see me at the Improv, and I didn’t get on till midnight, on a Tuesday, and I performed for about seven people, and you were sitting ringside, and the flop sweat that formed a puddle at my feet was so deep I was afraid I would be electrocuted if I touched the mike. And all because I wanted to impress you so you wouldn’t think I was total loser. You mean THAT time, Ma?

“Don’t yell at me, deah. And yes, I did mean that time. As I said, You weren’t funny. I’m going now. You’re harshing my mellow with all this gray talk. Good night.”

Good night.....So back to Gray Gardens.... By the way, I’m not like head-in-the-oven depressed here. I’ve been having these conversations for years with various dead people, like Amelia Earhart and John Kennedy. And for those of you who know me, please don’t call and ask me if I’m okay. I’m just having a little moment. This is the same feeling I had at the thought of going back to college when I was in my mid-forties. I dreaded the time it would take to finish. I hate beginnings, you know? I want to be in the middle already, working, booked solid, like I used to be.

But I’m not booked solid and I just have to face it. So my choices are that I can choose to do nothing or I can move forward, work hard, and make it happen. Of course I know what I’ll do. I always pick the tougher road, because I am a crazy, lunatic woman who doesn’t realize that people my age should be home watching all three hundred variations of the CSI series and starting to think about moving to Boca Raton for their friggin golden years. I should be thinking of auditioning for the part of Yenta in the Palm Tree Gardens Adult Community Theater of the Performing Arts production of Fiddler on the Roof (produced by the great  Lenny Nussbaum, of course) than to be standing on a stage in Geronimo, Texas (or wherever the hell they have clubs now)  trying to make people laugh. But you know what? WHO CARES? If I’m going down, I’m going to go down fighting; doing the things I want to do with my ONE life. So.....FUCK OLD AGE! And these young kids! And Bookers I don’t know. I WILL KNOW THEM. I WILL WORK. I WILL SUCCEED.

You know what Nina? I feel better. I think it’s time for some Gray Goose on the rocks!

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