Monday, September 8, 2008

"Do I Miss It?"

It’s September. The new television season is about to premier. And once again – for, now, the fourth season – I won’t be a part of it.

I’m sometimes asked, “Do you miss it?”

I miss it a lot.

I miss the big checks. I miss the excitement of putting on a show. I miss working at the top of my game (though this blog continues to yield substantial creative pleasures). I miss driving through the studio gate. I miss having an office on the lot. I miss eating in the commissary. I miss the energy. I miss the interaction. I miss having my hair cut by the studio barber.

I miss being who I was.

But there remains an enduring satisfaction. I can best describe what I’m talking about by recounting a sequence from a movie called Northwest Passage.

In Northwest Passage, Spencer Tracy plays Robert Rogers, the leader of a company of guerilla-style soldiers who fought alongside the British in the French and Indian Wars.

Walter Brennan, a regular soldier, accompanied Rogers on his last harrowing adventure. The expedition had come close to annihilation, but had finally returned safely.

In the sequence I remember, Rogers and his men are heading out on another perilous patrol. As the company marches past the tavern on their way out of town, the Brennan character watches from the tavern door, a smile on his face and a tankard of ale in his hand.

“Ain’t you goin’?” Brennan’s asked by a drinking companion.

Brennan’s eyes crinkle up, and he utters the line that capsulizes his character’s condition.

“I’ve been,” he replies.

The enduring satisfaction.

I’ve been.


MikeThe Blogger said...

I also remember Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore's (Robert Duvall) line. When they storm "Charley's Beach". He, a war lover, turns to a young soldier and says with disappointment. "Someday this war will be over." Yep, That's retirement no matter what we have loved doing.

GrangerBaxters said...

Hey, we could use a couple of guys to take tickets... It's not Hollywood, but it's baseball :). I'll even get one of the players to cut your hair.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

You're still you, of course, but your words remind me of the first time I laughed at a line spoken by Zero Mostel in The Producers:

"You know who I used to be?!"

:) Best to you

Anonymous said...

Bill, Why does a writer have to retire? What does age have to do with intellect? I don't see why you can't keep on doing what you love best....

Pidgy said...

Your hunch that the audience 'they' are after ain't watching is bang on. I asked my high school students how much TV they watched and they almost asked me what TV was! When I told them we used to plan our week around listings in the TV Guide, they almost died laughing. If it isn't on Facebook, forget it. Meanwhile, there's nothing for me to watch anymore. American Idol? I saw Judy Garland singing with Barbra Streisand one evening long ago. I am not impressed.