You know by now that my way of thinking about things is often a little bit “off.” But I never believed it was this “off.”
I am sitting in an airplane, blogging away, when suddenly, in an unused synapse in temporary repose – if that’s actually a thing – this bizarre realization pops into my head. Which is the following:
If this plane I am flying in suddenly dropped from the sky, I would continue writing until “KAPLUIEEE!!!”
Can you believe that? Neither could I. Fortunately, I was not required to put that theoretical happenstance to the test. Because we landed safely. (A choice I overwhelmingly preferred.) Still, what an “imagining”, huh?
Everyone praying and hugging and screaming,
And I’m finishing a sentence.
Disclaimer: Had my beloved spouse been accompanying me, all bets would have definitely been off. Who wants the last words you ever hear to be
“We’re crashing and you’re writing?”
My priorities would unquestionably change under those circumstances. More hugging and less typing, eventually joining the other passengers in a collective “AHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
Still, while the plane heads in a direction unsuitable for survival, at least a portion of my brain would be thinking,
“Did I get that right?”
This laser-focused proclivity is not just about writing. Consider the character “Golda” in Fiddler on the Roof. The Jews have been deported from Anatevka; everyone must leave immediately. And where’s Golda? Feverishly sweeping the floor of a home she is departing forever. Teyve exasperatedly exclaims,
“Golda, what are you doing!”
To which Golda intensely replies,
“I am not leaving a dirty house!”
I am not leaving an unfinished sentence.
Professionalism and personal integrity – that’s the ticket. The situation is hopeless. But you continue to do your job. I’ll bet somebody was still shoveling on the Titanic.
A situation I clearly recall from my television days.
Despite receding ratings, substantially because we’d been scheduled against the “Number One” show in the country, Dallas, Best of the West had been picked up for the “Back Nine” of its series order. We had made thirteen episodes. We were now contracted to make nine more, filling out the show’s full-season’s complement of twenty-two.
As Dallas skyrocketed, our ratings continued to tumble. Finally, while we were preparing “Episode Twenty”, my boss called me into the hall and informed me that Best of the West had been cancelled.
The chances of the remaining episodes being broadcast were zero. But the network had ordered them. So we had to deliver them.
We had to produce three episodes of a show that was no longer on television.
And we did it.
With energy, enthusiasm and the best creative effort we had in us.
We were professionals. That’s what we do.
But boy, was it weird. Best of the West had become the “Flying Dutchman” of half-hour comedy, our final three-episode commitment, a wandering vessel that would never reach port.
Did “Gallows Humor” pervade the proceedings? How couldn’t it? Re-working the story? Upgrading the jokes? Bringing the episode precisely to “time”, careful not to go “over” on a show that would never be seen?
Deeply sad. Also, darkly hilarious.
You complete your work. It’s your job, and you do it. Whether it’s a doomed flotilla of sitcom futility. Or a forcibly abandoned hovel in Russia.
Your plane veers in an unfortunately direction…
You just keep at it until “KABOOM!!!”
I mean, really.
What else is there to do?