During a recent Thursday walk to the Groundwork coffee emporium for a small, freshly brewed cup of “Venice Blend” which I did not really want but having discovered that if there is no stated objective to my walk I will refuse to walk anywhere – the foregoing topping my previous record for introductory extraneousness – thoughts once again come to my mind of my first dentist in Los Angeles, Dr. Sydney Garfield, (author of “Teeth Teeth Teeth – The Incredible World of Teeth”), a man who abandoned aeronautical engineering for dentistry and later dentistry for screenwriting.
Sydney Garfield was a dreamer. That dreaming, I am almost certain, triggered his untimely and unfortunate demise.
A friend read about his passing in the newpaper, and, knowing I would want to be informed, immediately communicated the unwelcome information.
While crossing an intersection in Beverly Hills – the location of his dental practice about which he at that point cared nothing, committed as he now was to authoring screenplays over fiddling around in mouths – Sydney Garfield was struck by an oncoming automobile, instantly, and tragically, losing his life.
The report sent crippling shock waves through my body. Dr. Garfield was not just my dentist. He was a kind and sensitive spirit. When I confessed of being too frightened to come in for my appointment, Sydney Garfield drove to my condo and chauffeured me back to his office. Then, after putting in a filling, rather of instructing me not to eat anything for an hour, he instead generously took me to lunch.
I bet your dentist never did that. Neither did any dentist I have had since.
My attachment to him, however, reached beyond the man’s empathy and non-traditional approach. In a deep and visceral manner, Sydney Garfield and myself were kindred spirits, both of us longstanding members of the daydreaming fraternity. Which, I will bet money, was the precipitating genesis of his demise.
As he traversed that Beverly Hills intersection, I can easily imagine Sydney Garfield deep in thought, his mind bursting with scriptorial improvements for his current magnum cinematic opus, Le Juicy Giraffe, his idiosyncratic “take” on the unpublicized inner workings of the plastic surgery industry.
And then, distracted and possibly smiling at his latest inspiration…
Sidney Garfield – R.I.P.
The following anecdote pales in comparative severity. But it is not entirely dissimilar. And it reminded me of Syd.
Cradling my recently purchased cup of Groundwork’s “Venice Blend” in my right hand, I head westbound on Rose Avenue, crossing a stretch of notoriously uneven sidewalk.
When I am walking outside, I will never wear headphones, preferring instead to fully appreciate the environment I am currently perambulating. And also to think.
Because your brain cannot execute two tasks at the same time, one is unable to simultaneously listen and think. Unfettered by headphones, I am available to glorious flights of imaginatorial wonderfulness.
That Thursday Walk was a bountiful example.
Heading home with my coffee, promising ideas for two future blogs posts popped miraculously into my head.
The way this goes, an idea comes to you and then, little by little, you embellish it, conjuring lines and perspectives, giving the skeletal notion weight, meaningful import and narrative direction.
Since I do not, on such occasions, bring along pen and paper, I have to endlessly repeat these nuggets of creativity, hoping to remember them when I reach home and have access to a scratch pad.
I recall an old Ellen DeGeneres routine about this, in which, dropping off to sleep, Ellen tries desperately to remind herself that she has left money in her pants by ingrainingly repeating to herself,
“Money in the pants! Money in the pants!” “‘M’ in the ‘P’!’ “‘M’ in the ‘P’!”
That’s what I do. I continue repeating what I want to remember for my upcoming blog post until I finally make it back home.
Typical self-reminding inner prattle:
“When does, for example, a hotdog which I could once buy for a dime become so outrageously expensive that, although still affordable given my financial situation, I cannot in good conscience bring myself to…”?
And before I knew it…
I had caught my foot on the notoriously uneven Rose Avenue sidewalk and had toppled to the ground, seriously scraping my right knee, the lid popping off the coffee cup, its contents darkening the pavement in front of me.
I would be an understatement to say that I was surprised.
But that’s what happens – or can at least easily occur – when you are thinking and walking.
Suddenly, you are thinking and falling.
Or, in some sad cases, tragically worse.
So what do we learn here?
“Keep your wits about you”?
That is definitely wise advice.
The prohibitive price of that advice…
You won’t fall, most likely.
But you'll miss out on the magic.