Friday, February 20, 2009

"Earl Descartes"

The philosopher, Rene Descartes, tried to figure out what could be proven to be verifiably in existence (in contrast to what might possibly be a dream), and the only thing he could determine with a certainty was the existence of the thinker who was trying to figure this stuff out.

His efforts provided his now-famous conclusion: “I think. Therefore, I am.”

I come at it from a different perspective.

I’m attending a play at an outdoor amphitheater. As the audience is about to take their seats, a woman approaches me. Attractive, mid-thirties, a number of months pregnant.

“Hi, Earl.”

Her voice is friendly.

“Hi,” I reply, taking an equally friendly tone. But my betraying eyes are screaming, “I don’t know who you are!”

She picks up the cue.

“I worked with you on Best of the West.”


Best of the West was a television show I’d created and produced a decade or so earlier. This woman had apparently worked on it with me. I have no recollection of her whatsoever. But she’s nice. And she’d taken the time to say hello. Pregnant and all.

I owe her my attention. Which emerges as hyper-interest and concern. What have you been up to? When’s the baby happening? Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl? My guilt at her absence from my memory bank sends me into “interest-overdrive.” I’m just jabbering away. Blah-buh-blah-blah-blah.

It’s totally meaningless. Except for the underlying message. Which is: “Don’t hate me for forgetting who you are.”

The play’s about to start. I unnatural a, “Nice to see you again”, and we take our seats. The play begins.

Don’t ask me what it’s about. I am way too upset. I had insulted a totally nice person. Right in front of her prenatal child.

I can’t let it go. I am determined to make amends. When the play ends, I search for her in the departing audience, hoping to send her home with a finishing dollop of Pomerantzian je ne sais quoi. I discover her, still sitting in her seat. The pregnancy suggested that she not buck the crowd.

“Remind me,” I inquire familiarly. “What exactly did you do on Best of the West?”

To which the woman replies,

“I was your assistant.”

Moments like this provide the verifiable evidence of my existence.

“I embarrass. Therefore, I am.”

Ironically, it’s on precisely those occasions when I wish I weren’t.


Anonymous said...

These blogtapas of yours are amazingly filling. (According to The Joy of Cooking, the first tapas were bread slices.)

Anonymous said...

Ouch - 'tis embarrasing. Though it might have been worse had it been Carlene Watkins, your female lead Best Of The West!

Thanks for all the great stories Earl!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, once again. You have such a gift for writing that I don't just read your stories, I experience them. I read, therefore I am embarrassed. And laughing, which is chasing away clouds right now.

Anonymous said...

At least she didn't say "I love your blog."

growingupartists said...

I hate to tell ya Earl, but I'm pretty sure I heard at least PART of this story once before on your blog. Not that I'd je accuse (or however the hell you spell it!)

Miles said...

Indeed, this story was briefly mentioned last May...

But this version was much more fleshed out.

Love the blog Earl, keep it up. Spent a very happy few weeks going back and reading all your old posts recently, which is why I remembered I'd seen this one before :)