On the rarest of occasions, something happens in my life that reminds me that I actually once did something.
When it happens two days in a row, I feel the impulse to write about it.
Dr. M and I are standing outside a restaurant after an enjoyable dinner with another couple. The other couple is waiting for the valet to bring them their car. Our car is parked in the nearby parking lot. We wait with them because we are nice.
Enjoying a break in the action, I repair unobtrusively to my “Venue of Choice” – my own head – where I am daydreaming, at night, which is challenging because it is more difficult to see. (I know that makes no sense, but I am leaving it in, exercising the last vestige of authority that I possess.)
Interrupting my reverie, Dr. M comes up to me and says,
“Jim Belushi is standing behind me. Why don’t you go over and say hello?”
I immediately say no. I know Jim Belushi from my two-year assignment as one-day-a-week consultant on his long-running sitcom According To Jim. He was always cordial, respectful of both my resume and to my contribution to his show.
So why didn’t I want to say hello?
I don’t know, that’s just me. I’m sure included somewhere in the calculation is, “Why doesn’t he come over and say hello to me?” with all its hierarchical implications, reflecting a (possibly exaggerated) lifetime of “Status Abuse”.
For another thing, I want no part of the inevitable “What are you doing these days?” question, for fear of blurting a cantankerous response like, “Waiting for the next medical emergency.”
Most importantly, I dread the possibility that… well, the prototypical “Nightmare Scenario” is on view in The Dirty Dozen, involving Donald Sutherland, pretending to be a general, reviewing the troops:
“Where are you from, son?”"
"Madison City, Missouri, sir.”
“Never heard of it.”
You really want to take that kind of a risk? You go up to somebody you’ve had minor dealings with, you introduce yourself, and you come face-to-face with a pasted-on smile accompanied by a glazed look in the eyes, the smile saying, “Oh, yeah” and the eyes saying, “Not a clue”?
The drawbacks outweighing the advantages, I am insistent on taking a pass.
(Even though Dr. M strongly encouraged me to do the opposite. Yeah, like she’d walk up to some noted psychoanalyst she’d crossed paths with. I have to make her do that. The only difference being she does.)
Our dinner companions’ car finally arrives. I step into the street to say goodnight to the man entering the driver’s side, reiterating that I was glad he was feeling better – he was recovering from a serious illness – and hoping for healthier days in the future. To which he replied some version of “Right back at ya.”
If an artist had painted that tableau, he’d have entitled it,
“Conversations of Convalescents by Cars.”
Bidding the couple farewell, I begin my return trip to the sidewalk. Suddenly I hear a voice from behind me say,
“Didn’t we work together one time?”
I turn around.
It is Jim Belushi.
The man had stepped into the street, walked around the car whose driver I’d been talking to, and had accosted me – in a friendly manner – from behind.
Lacking any alternative but deliberate snubbing, I graciously surrender my name.
We shake hands. Jim Belushi man is smiling.
Steering the conversation from the get-go, I say, “Sorry about the Cubs.” (Belushi, I knew, being a fanatical Cubs fan and his team had recently been eliminated from the playoffs.)
I then immediately instruct him on how to respond.
“Now you say, ‘Sorry about the Blue Jays.’” (A reference to the team I rooted for that was also eliminated from the playoffs.) To which he dutifully replies,
“Sorry about the Blue Jays.”
We spend the next thirty seconds or so in serious “Baseball Mode”, Jim explaining, correctly, why the Cubs lost – they were too young and experienced – me assuring him that the team’s youth portended a promising future.
And then it was over.
Painless. Collegial. Flattering that someone arguably higher on the show biz “Food Chain” would make the effort to say hello.
A lesson to be learned.
And if the situation happened again…
I’d do exactly the same thing.
We are out of time for the second story. Which occurred on the very next day.
Which seems fittingly appropriate then, to wait for tomorrow for me to tell you about it.
Hopefully enticing teaser:
It involves the “Lord of Late-Night TV”,
I’ve got shivers. Do you?