Last weekend, we attended a milestonish birthday party for a good (and kind and generous) writer friend named Lisa, who, after an extended period in the wilderness, had landed on a hit show, and was now, deservedly, doing well.
The party had an interesting dynamic to it. What I noticed was that the older guests (such as myself) arrived closer to the party’s announced starting time. During that eight to nine period, the gathering was friendly, and of a manageable size.
You could casually converse, move around freely, easily get to the food table. I felt comfortable there, or as comfortable as I can feel at a party, parties, on the Earl Pomerantz Continuum of Comfort, registering close to the borders of “Get me out of here!”
The party, early on, was surprisingly enjoyable.
A couple of hours later, I looked around, and it was a totally different party. Gradually and imperceptibly, it had transformed itself into a Happening. The once convivial backyard venue was now roaring, and overstuffed with revelers. You could barely move anymore. (A serious concern for a chronic claustrophobic.)
Aside from its size, it was also apparent that the burgeoning crowd had grown increasingly younger. The later it got, the younger the guests. By the time we were leaving, babies were being born in the driveway, fashionably dressed and ready to party.
A word about “young.” Despite my personal preference in this matter, people continue to be born. By the immutable rules defining age, anybody born after I was is automatically younger than me. This, without any effort or malice on their part, pushes me up the line.
I realize this – “this” meaning being born after me – is not something people do to spite me, or to remind me that, at least statistically, I’m closer to death than they are. I can’t blame them for doing that. Though I can’t help resenting them for the reminder.
My reaction, however, was not just to the age of these partygoers. Their arrival had brought a discernable difference to the evening’s tone.
The more elderly early arrivers were television writers (and their spouses), the majority of whom, including myself, were no longer working. A couple of graybeards were still plying their trade, though you could sense some defensiveness about where.
Then, this tsunami of youth thunders in. These, too, were primarily writers. The difference was that the young guys (and gals) had jobs. Good ones.
They seemed healthier, these people, and not just because of their age. They were bright-eyed and buzzing with energy. I picked up a snippet of conversation where this fresh-faced writer’s crowing, “My office is so amazing, when they were interviewing with my boss, they did it in my office instead of his.”
The guy could barely contain his exuberance. He was prancing with excitement. And that was just about his office.
They were definitely a different breed. Their haircuts seemed fresher, their wardrobe, more au courante. (I don’t want to know about their cars.) Lisa’s boss, formerly on the “shlubby” side, was now stylishly turned out, ready, at a moment’s notice, for the cover of GQ.
Wrahrr! (That’s a catty noise.)
I know. It’s disgusting. But that’s what happens. Old lions, involuntarily sent out to pasture – we’re not nice people. Having at least some measure of self-reflection (and blog space to fill), I stopped to ask myself, “What exactly is going on?”
This part is tricky. You can easily fool yourself. What are my current aspirations? Do I still want to do stuff, the stuff the Young Exciteds are doing? Or am I happily and gratefully out of the line of fire?
At the party, I heard myself tell a director, in response to his question about whether I still interested in working,
“I don’t want to be in a position where people say “No” to me ever again!”
But if an opportunity came up, would I jump at it? Or would I smile and say, “Pass.”
Maybe if it’s a consulting job on a show a couple of days a week. I still think I could do that. And make a positive contribution. But basically, what I’d said to the director felt fundamentally right.
There’s a parallel with the fact that I can’t visit Canada in the winter anymore. It’s simply too cold for my body. They say your blood gets thinner. I don’t know about that. Whatever the reason, certain conditions, which your body could formerly tolerate – you can’t handle them anymore.
I feel the same way about dealing with rejection. Though I never loved it, my system could absorb what was required, and after an appropriate Moping Period, let it go and get back in the game.
I don’t think I could do that anymore.
This blog is a blessing. I write every day, and I write what I want. Nobody says, ”Don’t do that”, except when I rewrite, me. But it’s not a business. It’s a technological gift to people who want to work but can no longer muster the energy to convince themselves they can sell.
I used to be those young writers. And someday, they’ll be me.
I hope they handle it better.
Three hundred posts. Whoo-hoo!