Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"Inside Looking Out"

As I am walking at the beach trying to memorize all six verses of “Ballad of the Alamo” that I am learning to play on the piano,

“Injun scouts with squirrel guns, men with muzzle loaders
Stood together heel and toe
To defend the Alamo…”

… I spot this giant tent set up in the sand beside the “Walking Path” and, since it does not display the trademark alternating blue and yellow stripes, I know it is not Cirque De Soleil.  (The regular locale for their temporary L.A. “home” being Santa Monica Beach.)

Then I remember that our beach is also the “home” on the evening before the Oscars of the “Independent Spirit Awards”.  I am not certain what the “Spirit” awards are, but I believe they are given to movie participants with particularly good attitudes.

“Five A.M. ‘call’, but we’re in the movies!  Whoo-hoo!

Though I could be wrong about that. 

(I would never give those people an award.  I would more likely want to smack them.  “It’s too early!”)

Anyway, all I know is, walking by the venue preparing for that evening’s festivities, I catch sight of the temporary “Security Fence” surrounding the area, and the row of orange cones blocking access by vehicle, all of which unequivocally scream:

“Keep out!  Unless you’re ‘in’.”

This was an exclusive show business celebration. 

The kind I was once “in.” 

And I am now “out.”

And I can tell you…

It did not feel good.

Sniffle, sniffle.

Note:  It is not just show biz venues that elicit this discomfiting reaction.  I react in a similar fashion being barred from the “Employees Only” area at Pancho’s Tacos.

But the show biz rejections are more difficult. 

It is then, as an antidote to this embarrassing self-pitiation, that a palliative anecdote comes to mind.  Which is the following:

I am recalling a scene from a movie called Northwest Passage (1940), starring Spencer Tracy and Walter Brennan. (Also Robert Young, but he has nothing to do with the anecdote.  Though he was pretty good in the movie.)  

Spencer Tracy plays Major Robert Rogers, who was an actual person, though I would not look to this movie, or any other movie for that matter, for historical accuracy, and do not get me started about that!   

Rogers led an independent (of the British army) ranger company on dangerous reconnaissance and “special operations” missions during the “French and Indian War” (1754-1763, which was part of the worldwide “Seven Years War”, though it incongruously lasted nine years.)

In the final scene of the movie, having survived near annihilation during their previous campaign, Rogers and his company set off on another precarious assignment.  As Rogers leads his men off to further adventure, a character played by Walter Brennan, a veteran of the previous excursion, stands at the alehouse door, his hand wrapped tightly around a tankard of “brew” as he watches his former comrades marching away. 

A tavern-mate standing beside the Walter Brennan character inquires curiously,

“Ain’t you goin’?”

To which the contented Walter Brennan character replies,

“I’ve been.”


I’ve “been” too.

And that ought to be enough.

And yet, being selfish, greedy, nostalgic, or something that could easily be a form of mental illness…

It isn’t.

I walk past that restricted, fenced-off area…

Still longing to be invited inside.

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